Erectile dysfunction & porn: diving into the world of PIED

Written with
Silva Neves

We’ve probably all had a look at pornography at some point. A quick porn sesh before work here, a porn marathon during a night in there. 

The pornography website, Pornhub, revealed that there were over 42 billion visits to their website in 2019. That means there was an average of 115 million visits per day. That’s a lot of porn-watching. 

Psychologists have done a deep dive into the negative effects of porn on our behavior – from shifts in sexual interest to unsafe sex. But one potential problem has fallen under the radar: porn’s connection to erectile dysfunction (ED).

With some help from psychosexual and relationship therapist Silva Neves, we’ll be uncovering: 

  1. A definition of what Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction (PIED) is
  2. Porn induced signs & symptoms
  3. If porn really can cause ED
  4. Cure and treatment for porn & ED 
  5. How to recover from porn induced ED 
  6. Whether porn can actually help with ED

What is Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction (PIED)?

Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction (PIED) is a term used for linking erection issues to porn use, although PIED has not been proven scientifically. 

Often, men with PIED can get an erection when they watch porn, but struggle to get it up with a sexual partner or while masturbating without porn. This is because it is normal for people to experience better erections with porn than partners, because there isn't the anxiety of being a good lover with porn.

How to know if watching porn has a role to play in your ED 

According to Silva, it can be tricky to say whether your porn usage can be connected to your sexual issues.

That’s because the concept of PIED is based on the ‘problematic’ use of pornography, but the amount of porn use that is considered ‘problematic’ is unclear. 

“The issue is that clinicians haven't agreed on a fairly objective measure to determine what 'problematic' viewing of porn actually is.”

- Silva Neves, Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist

One person’s ‘excessive porn’ is another person’s Tuesday night in, so everyone will have a different idea of what ‘too much porn’ really means.

And, problematic may not only relate to the amount of porn you watch. Read the other signs and symptoms below, which could suggest that porn has become problematic.

Silva’s advice is to recognize what is ‘normal’ for you. Analyze your porn habits in the context of your own personal life, feelings, and sexual responses – not anyone else’s.

Porn induced ED symptoms & signs

If you can relate to several of the following statements and you’re struggling with your erections, it could be a sign that you’re experiencing problematic porn use:

  • You can only get hard and/or stay hard while you’re watching porn
  • Porn interferes with your work 
  • Porn is negatively impacting your relationships, even though you have the same values about porn 
  • You bail on seeing friends last minute to stay home and watch porn
  • Porn takes over a lot of your life in general, and stops you from meeting your important responsibilities 
  • Masturbating to porn does not feel pleasurable
  • You continue to watch porn even though it's not making you happy or giving you any satisfaction 
  • You find it difficult to stop watching porn
  • You find yourself thinking about porn all the time – to the extent that it impairs the functioning of your life

If you can’t relate to these, and feel like your porn-watching habits are pleasurable, satisfying, and well-integrated into your life, then it may be less likely that porn is having an impact on your erections.

A sneak peek from Silva Neves:


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