Portions of this article were originally published on BBC’s website here and here.

Previously, erectile dysfunction was unheard of in men younger than 40 years of age, but now due to the amount of porn being consumed by teens today, erectile dysfunction is being found in males as young as 15-16 years old. This has never been seen before in our society.

Gary Wilson, author of Your Brain On Porn, recently said in an interview:

By the time they find real partners, perhaps as much as a decade later, some guys discover they have trained intensely… for the wrong sport. (These young men) had simply conditioned their sexual response to screens, isolation, constant novelty, shock/surprise, fetish porn and watching other people have sex. Their erection problems with real partners resolved only months after they quit porn.”

And for some consumers, their obsession with porn can literally replace actual sexual experiences and relationships with real human beings.

“I’m 31 and a virgin because I’m addicted to porn.”

Jim is 31 and recovering from porn addiction, and he says that porn has stopped him from functioning “normally.”

“The internet gives you this private space that nobody knows about,” he says. “You can try things with a complete absence of consequence.”

Jim says seeing women treated in aggressive ways on screen changed how he treated them in real life.

“I built up a huge amount of resentment and anger towards girls… There was something inside me that was like, ‘these women should be with me.’ There’s a lot of negative, angry, violent thinking … I’m receiving these messages through pornography, that women are essentially objects—that they’re yours to own.”

Unsurprisingly, this objectification that is exceedingly prevalent in porn culture is raising up consumers to have unhealthy attitudes about sex without ever having a real sexual experience with another human.

“If you go back 15 years it used to be you’re either sexually experienced or you’re not, and now you’ve got people like me who have never had sex, but have seen every single sex act under the sun. They’re going to be carrying all these expectations given to them from porn about what sex should be like, and what they should be like… I don’t think that’s having any healthy consequences,” Jim says.

Related: How Porn Twisted My Sexuality

And Jim’s story is not isolated. Thanks to the internet, porn is raising up an entire generation of teens who have accessed the most hardcore pornographic images and videos, all before having any sexual experiences for themselves. This warps their expectations of what reality is like, and sets them up for damaging and harmful repercussions later in life, including the inability to have sex at all.

Erectile Dysfunction And Porn

British psychosexual therapist Angela Gregory says more and more men in their late teens and early 20s are suffering from erectile dysfunction. She puts the blame on people becoming addicted to watching online porn.

“What I’ve seen over the last 16 years, particularly the last five years, is an increase in the amount of younger men being referred,” she said. “Our experience is that historically men that were referred to our clinic with problems with erectile dysfunction were older men whose issues were related to diabetes, MS, cardio vascular disease.”

But those were the days before Internet porn. These days, online message boards are flooded with complaints from porn consumers in their teens and 20s complaining that they can’t maintain an erection. [1] But for this kind of ED, the problem isn’t in the penis—it’s in the brain. [2]

“These younger men do not have organic disease, they’ve already been tested by their GP and everything is fine… So one of the first assessment questions I’d always ask now is about pornography habit because that can be the cause of their issues about maintaining an erection with a partner.”

Related: My Husband Has Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction & Refuses To Have Sex With Me

The problem is that porn consumers have wired their brain to get aroused by sitting alone in a room looking at virtual images rather than connecting arousal to being with a real person. [3]

Erections are powered by chemicals in the brain’s reward center that are released when a guy sees, hears, smells, or feels something that turns him on. [4] The problem for porn consumers is that they’ve hijacked their reward center by using porn to get it to overload on these chemicals. [5] As a result, the consumer’s brain responds by cutting down on the amount of pleasure chemicals it produces and stops responding as well to the chemicals that are being released. [6] It’s like when you’re standing next to a fire alarm that goes off; it’s too much noise so you cover your ears. That’s what porn consumer’s brains are doing. When chemical levels are too high, the brain fights back by blocking some of the flood of chemicals released.

Due to their lowered sexual response and altered brain pathways, many porn consumers find they just can’t get excited enough to maintain an erection without porn; and for many consumers, over time, even porn isn’t enough. [7]

“Wired to porn”

Like so many others, Nick, (not his real name) started watching porn when he got his first laptop age 15.

“It quickly escalated and it was every day. What I was watching, it definitely got more extreme over a short period of time in my case … There was nothing that would give me a kick. Normal stuff didn’t do anything anymore, so I had to get more and more extreme material. [It was] disturbing stuff that disturbed me that, in normal life, I wouldn’t dream of doing.”

Related21-Year-Old: I Had Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction

It wasn’t long before Nick’s own sexual health began to suffer.

“I found that when I was lying next to a girl a lot that I just wouldn’t be horny at all, despite being really attracted to the girl and wanting to have sex with her, [because] my sexuality was completely wired towards porn.”

Once Nick realized he had a problem, he tried to get help. In the end, Nick went 100 days without watching porn and was relieved when things got back to normal.

“My libido came back with a vengeance and I met this girl and it was great… For the first time in ages I was able to flirt and within quite a short time I was able to have normal sex. I was feeling so balanced and happy.”

Related: Why So Many Young Men Are Giving Up Watching Porn

He also has advice for anyone suffering from a similar problem.

“Once I recovered I spent a lot of time on online forums trying to help others do the same… There’s a lot more information online than when I had problems. You should tell your friends, tell people who are close to you or just a couple of people you trust. And don’t worry, there are many of us in the same boat.”

Click here or here to read the full articles on BBC’s website.

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This is the new norm for our generation and the next

Nick is right—countless other teens and adults are in the exact same boat.

“Internet porn is killing young men’s sexual performance. … It starts with lower reactions to porn sites. Then there is a general drop in libido, and in the end it becomes impossible to get an erection,” says Dr. Carlo Foresta, past president of the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine.

And Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and director of Men’s Health Boston says, “A lot of the men who grow up now watching internet porn learn their sexuality and how to get stimulated down there in a way that is not mimicked by actual sex.”

Related: 3 Reasons Why NOT Watching Porn Is The Most Sex Positive Thing You Can Do

Think about it. Porn is not real. It’s literally pixels on a screen made up by acting, exaggerating strangers who have been edited, photoshopped, and surgically altered. There is nothing real about it. That kind of objectification is what kills relationships, and that’s what kills our perceptions of what love and physical connection should be about. That kind of exaggeration is killing viewers’ ability to have actual sex, and have healthy perceptions about sex.

Bottom line—porn can kill love and can hurt the health of your sex life. In the end, watching is most definitely not worth it. Choose love, not porn.

Get Involved

Spread the word on the harmful effects of porn. SHARE this story so we can continue to shine a light on the facts and make a change in society.

Spark Conversations

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Citations

[1] Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books, 105.
[2] Capogrosso, P., Colicchia, M., Ventimiglia, E., Castagna, G., Clementi, M. C., Suardi, N., Castiglione, F., Briganti, A., Cantiello, F., Damiano, R., Montorsi, F., Salonia, A. (2013). One Patient Out of Four with Newly Diagnosed Erectile Dysfunction Is a Young Man—Worrisome Picture from the Everyday Clinical Practice. Journal of Sexual Medicine 10, 7:1833–41; Cera, N., Delli Pizzi, S., Di Pierro, E. D., Gambi, F., Tartaro, A., et al. (2012). Macrostructural Alterations of Subcortical Grey Matter in Psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction. PLoS ONE 7, 6: e39118; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books, 105.
[3] Hilton, D. L. (2013). Pornography Addiction—A Supranormal Stimulus Considered in the Context of Neuroplasticity. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology 3:20767; Robinson, M. and Wilson, G. (2012). Are Sexual Tastes Immutable? Psychology Today, November 8. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201211/are-sexual-tastes-immutable
[4] Pfaus, J. G., Kippin, T. E., Coria-Avila, G. A., Gelez, H., Afonso, V. M., Ismail, N., and Parada, M. (2012). Who, What, Where, When (and Maybe Even Why)? How the Experience of Sexual Reward Connects Sexual Desire, Preference, and Performance. Archives of Sexual Behavior 41: 31–62; Pfaus, J. G., Kippin, T. E., and Centeno, S. (2001). Conditioning and Sexual Behavior: A Review. Hormones and Behavior 40: 291–321.
[5] Nestler, E. J. (2005). Is There a Common Molecular Pathway for Addiction? Nature Neuroscience 9, 11: 1445–1449.
[6] Hilton, D. L., and Watts, C. (2011). Pornography Addiction: A Neuroscience Perspective. Surgical Neurology International, 2: 19.
[7] Cera, N., Delli Pizzi, S., Di Pierro, E. D., Gambi, F., Tartaro, A., et al. (2012). Macrostructural Alterations of Subcortical Grey Matter in Psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction. PLoS ONE 7, 6: e39118.

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