Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction: (PIED)

Erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence is sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis during sexual activity in humans.

Porn is designed to capture attention. The performers often do things that would typically not translate into real life. The men watching can become conditioned to this type of sexual arousal that does not carry over into real life sexual situations. Men with PIED are unable to become sexually aroused with a partner, but have no difficulties while watching porn.Regular sex no longer meets the person's expectations, resulting in a decline in dopamine. This can cause some men to no longer be "in the mood." Men who suffer from ED when in the presence of a partner but have no problems when watching porn are said to have PIED. Studies have shown that some men with ED who watched porn were able to obtain a regular erection once the porn was removed.However, the younger the age of the male when they begin to regularly watch porn, the greater the chance of it becoming their preference over partnered sex, and the less overall enjoyment they get. PIED can also lead to other health problems. Many men recognize that there is a problem but are unable to break the cycle. They can become embarrassed or depressed when unable to perform with their partner, which can cause them to watch porn more.

ED can affect men for many reasons, including physical and psychological causes such as performance anxiety, depression, or poor physical health. But what about from watching pornography? Here’s what the research shows.

Other Causes Of ED 

  • Stress
  • Alcoholism
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Side effects from medications (such as SSRIs)
  • Hormonal disorders

Therefore above factors need to be kept in consideration while evaluating effect of pornography.


Porn and sexual anorexia: While ED mostly affects older men, a study conducted in Italy found that an increase in internet pornography viewing among teenage boys can cause “sexual anorexia,” or a pathological loss of appetite for romantic-sexual interactions. The notion that watching too much porn causes ED has since spread like wildfire.


But porn can affect your sexual appetite. Experts do say, however, that watching pornography can influence a man’s sexual appetite. This may make it difficult for them to achieve an erection and have an orgasm with a sexual partner.

Nikki Martinez, PsyD, LCPC, says modern access to a wide array of adult material can make it difficult for a man to become aroused with their partner or to participate in sexual activities as they always have. “They have unleashed their true desires and proclivities, and now they struggle to become aroused when this is not involved,” she says. “The other partner feels rejected, and as if they are not attractive, and the first partner is most often too embarrassed to tell them what is really going on.”

SELF-PERCEPTION: It can also affect how you look at yourself

Natalie Finegood Goldberg, LMFT, CST, says that pornography can create unrealistic expectations of what sex should look like and what your partner should look like and be able to do. For lots of men, she says, pornography can engender shame if they feel they are not living up to the standards of the actor.“ Also, not to mention the piece where people can get any fantasy hand-delivered to them through channels of pornography, rather than having to open up to their partner about what turns them on. ”Alexis Conason, PsyD, who practices in New York City, says she doesn’t think porn causes erectile dysfunction, but it’s important to look at how someone views pornography. “For example, compulsive porn viewing, or watching several scenes at once, or quickly switching from one scene to another, creates a lot of stimulation not typically experienced in real life sexual encounters. This may create ED issues,” she says.“In addition, watching men in porn can create feelings of insecurity if men compare themselves to the actors, and this can lead to ED.”

The role of the brain

It is necessary to understand how the brain works to be able to understand why watching excessive amounts of porn can lead to ED. Neurons are cells that receive and send messages between the body and the brain. The brain has about 100 billion neurons, which are the basic working units of the nervous system.Neurotransmitters send chemical messages between the neurons. A neurotransmitter called dopamine helps the flow of information to the front of the brain, which is linked to thought and emotion. It is also linked to reward systems. Brain cells are activated by what people see or hear. If a person receives a hug, the brain releases dopamine, which makes the person feel good. A person's response to natural rewards such as sex are largely regulated by the dopamine pathway as well. Erections are dependent on the activation of this pathway. Dopamine signaling plays a crucial role in sexual arousal and erections.

Dopamine overload: When a person watches porn, their brain is flooded with dopamine. Too much dopamine can cause problems. The brain is overwhelmed by the overload of chemicals, and it automatically takes away some of the dopamine receptors.Although the brain continues to release the same levels of dopamine in response to porn, eventually there are fewer receptors to receive the messages. Watching porn no longer arouses the person as much or as quickly. They then have to look at more porn or search for stronger porn to obtain the original sensation. Sexual activities that would normally give people a burst of dopamine and make them happy are no longer enough to sustain them. They constantly have to look at porn to get the sensation they need, and this can lead to ED.Many men find themselves unable to maintain an erection in the absence of porn. The internet and other avenues provide an unlimited amount of content, so some men begin to watch massive amounts of porn to maintain high levels of sexual arousal.When they try to engage with a real sexual partner, the arousal they feel does not fit their expectations and they are unable to maintain an erection.

There are some other porn-induced problems that can arise, including:

Lower sexual satisfaction and sexual dysfunction: Studies have shown that some men have to use porn to become aroused with a partner. Others have developed negative feelings toward partnered sex.

Risky behavior: For some men, porn increases their need for multiple sex partners, more alcohol, drugs, and other risky behavior. They often do not use protection and have no fear of the consequences of their actions.


So, what’s a guy to do?

If you think any of these aspects of pornography might be affecting your sexual functioning, its recommended going on a pornography fast for at least 90 days. 

This can help soften visual cues that can become overdeveloped through regular pornography viewing. 

People should explore their sexuality and sensuality through their other senses during this break.“ This [exploration] can also include arousal through visual cues, but the visual cues must be 3-dimensional,”.

“Formal partner exercises like sensate focus are very helpful in restoring a person's connection to a more robust sensuality.”

For self-pleasuring purposes,  masturbating to sensations rather than recalled pornographic images.

“I would encourage people to dig deep and explore their sexuality by also making an inventory of their turn-ons outside of the porn and visual realm,”.