Watching porn: a harmless diversion or a dangerous epidemic?

Man watching porn on internet in bedroom

It’s now been more than 20 years since pornography began migrating to the Internet, and boy, has it taken off. Statistics from one of the major porn websites indicate nearly 30 billion visits in a recent year, which translates to more than 80 million visits every day. And that’s just for a single website. (Of course, porn has been around a lot longer than the Internet. But online access made porn easily and immediately accessible to anyone with online access.)

It’s estimated that about 75 percent of this porn audience is men, although some people think this is a low estimate. Likewise, men of all ages watch porn — and those who do, often watch a lot of it.

How is all this porn-watching affecting men and their sex lives?

From my perspective, it’s not good. As I mention in my book The New Naked: The Ultimate Sex Education for Grown-Ups, I see the harmful effects of porn on men and women every day in my office. I believe porn is the single largest non-health issue that makes relationships crumble. It’s harming nearly every aspect of sexual health, and it’s the number-one issue that many sex therapists deal with today.

Porn affects men in different ways. But many of my patients who watch porn regularly are experiencing sexual performance problems, such as not being able to get or maintain an erection. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and the wrong kind of friction in the bedroom.

The reason this happens is that some men, after watching (and often masturbating to) porn, develop idealized or unrealistic views about sex and the way male and female bodies look.

Can porn become an addiction?

People often think of addictions in terms of substances, but it’s definitely possible to be addicted to — or obsessed with — certain behaviors or activities. I consider porn to be an addiction when it affects your life or hurts a loved one. If you look at it this way, porn addiction is probably a lot more common than most people realize.

How to break the cycle

If you suspect that porn is messing with your mojo in bed, here are a few things you can try:

  • Take a break from all sex, including porn and masturbation. After a few days, you’ll be a lot more sensitive and more likely to orgasm within a normal period of time. (And if at first you don’t succeed, try again as soon as possible.)
  • If you typically watch porn at a certain time of the day or night, try to do something else during that time to get your body and mind focused on something else.
  • Ask your partner to touch you the way you like to be touched.
  • Talk with your partner about your feelings for them, including the emotional aspects of your sexual relationship.

If these approaches don’t help, you should find a sex therapist who’s experienced with porn addiction and sexual dysfunction. Be prepared for a hard time: Withdrawal from any addiction can be difficult. But also keep your mind on the goal: an improved emotional and sexual connection with your partner.

If you want to find out more about erection and ejaculation disorders, porn addition or other men’s health issues, contact Dr. Harry Fisch in New York to request a consultation.

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