Can Watching Too Much Porn Affect Your Sex Life? There's A Link Between Porn Watching & Sexual Dysfunction In Young Men, Study Finds
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I'm not against porn in any way. In fact, I have a select few bookmarked videos set for whenever the mood arises. But one of the things that I really dislike is how mainstream porn can affect people — especially guys I've hooked up with in the past. Most of my bad sex stories tend to center around guys who've clearly set their expectations from whatever they've seen in mainstream porn. Long story short, it was always disappointing for me, and as a new study found, maybe even for them. According to a study presented at the American Urological Association's annual meeting, watching too much porn can take a toll on your sex life, especially if you're a young and sexually inexperienced male.

"Pornography viewing and consumption is usually done with solo sex," licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex addiction therapist Jenner Bishop, LMFT, CSAT-S, tells Bustle. "Solo sex has this kind of mesmerizing feedback loop. The pressure of masturbation that you like, the speed of masturbation — all of which are gauged to what’s going to feel good to the individual. So when you pair the intense and arousing imagery that porn can provide with that perfect feedback loop of self arousal, it's really hard for another real, live, flesh and blood person to touch you exactly how you want to be touched."

The study, which was published in The Journal of Urology, was conducted by lead researcher, Dr. Matthew Christman, a staff urologist with the Naval Medical Center in San Diego and colleagues who surveyed 312 men between the ages of 20 and 40-year-old. All survey participants visited a urology clinic in San Diego for treatment. Although the study found that only three percent of men say they prefer masturbating to porn over actual sexual intercourse, there was a statistically significant relationship between porn addiction and sexual dysfunction. Here's what the study found:

Men Who Prefer Porn Are More Likely To Be Dissatisfied With Their Sex Lives

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This isn't entirely surprising, but the men surveyed who prefer masturbating to porn over actual intercourse are more likely to find sex to be disappointing. Younger men, in particular, were more likely to report a preference for porn as well as a dissatisfaction with their sex life.

The Number Of Men With Sexual Dysfunction Issues Goes Up With The Amount Of Porn They Consume

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According to the survey, about four percent of men say they watch porn more than 11 times a week. While only three percent say they prefer porn to intercourse, a majority of them (nearly 80 percent), admitted to having sexual dysfunction issues. On the other hand, the rate of sexual dysfunction was lowest in men who said they preferred intercourse without the use of pornography.

While the authors note that sexual dysfunction in younger men tends to be extremely low, there has been an increase in cases recently. Naturally, this led them to conclude that porn-viewing habits may be a key to explain why.

Too Much Porn Viewing Can Increase A Person's Tolerance

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One of the explanations for why too much porn viewing can cause dysfunction issues is "tolerance." Similar to certain drugs, regular porn viewers get a sort of high from watching it. They're less likely to respond to real world activity because it doesn't match up to the expectations they have, so they need to rely on porn for release.

"It's really is a no-win situation when porn is used as the mechanism by which we learn about sex and sexuality and relating with others."

As Shirani M. Pathak, licensed psychotherapist and founder of the Relationship Center of Silicon Valley tells Bustle, this really has been a trend. "Many women report to either being unable to get their men off, which leads to the women feeling inadequate and their men feeling frustrated, or men are not able to get or maintain an erection, which leads to the men feeling inadequate and women feeling frustrated," Pathak says. "It really is a no-win situation when porn is used as the mechanism by which we learn about sex and sexuality and relating with others. Sadly, due to the increased accessibility of our digital age, it's becoming more and more the norm."

Women Aren't As Affected By Porn Use As Men

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A separate experiment they conducted also looked into women and how porn viewing affected them. Unlike men, there was no significant relationship between porn use and sexual dysfunction.

"I believe this happens because one, women aren't exposed to pornography as early on in life as men are and two, because women tend to rely on feelings and emotions to help them with sexual arousal whereas men tend to rely on visual cues and imagery," Pathak says. "Unfortunately the visual stimulation men are receiving and interpreting as the thing women want is an inaccurate representation based on actresses who are in it for the purpose of pleasing a male driven adult film industry."

So if you've ever wondered if watching too much porn can affect your sex life, it sounds like it can. Overall, this study is a good reminder that most mainstream porn isn't like sex in real life. If you think that, you're likely to be disappointed — and it seems like your sex life could take a hit too.