Study: Porn Does Not Ruin Your Sex Life

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A new study from UCLA and Concordia University questions an old assumption about the hazards of too much porn. There have been a number of reports warning that watching too much erotica will make a person unable to perform with a real-life partner or, even worse, lose the desire to even try. But many of those studies are lacking. In fact, this is the first study that has actually looked at the relationship between how much porn a man watches and his erectile functioning. "It wasn't mean to be a be-all, end-all," says Nicole Prause, associate research scientist at UCLA. "We just saw that there's absolutely no data right now and that's nuts, given how much people write about it." 

For this research, the authors collected data from previous studies that Prause had run. In total, they looked at 280 male volunteers who had reported on their pornography viewing (up to 25 hours), viewed erotic films in the lab, and answered surveys about their sexual desire. Some of the studies involved also had men who filled out surveys about their sexual relationships and functioning. Overall, the results showed that even the most avid porn watchers were doing fine in the realm of real-world sex. Reported erectile functioning with a partner was unrelated to the amount of time a man spent watch porn and men who watched lots of porn at home actually rated higher in terms of their desire to have sex with a partner and their arousal response to the videos in the lab, which were fairly "vanilla" films.

Although these results may prompt you to up your porn consumption, that would be a loose interpretation of what Prause found. "This is not a blanket statement to go watch as much as you can and [that] there will only be positive and good things coming to you," says Prause. Since these results are correlational and involve men who chose to be studied (and reported much of this information from their perspective), a lot of different things could be going on here.


One possibility is that guys who like porn also like sex. That seems like a fairly safe conclusion but all of those people who have warned that high porn consumption ruins a person's sex drive are offering a nearly opposite argument. "At some point in there I know we wrote, 'It's possible that viewing sex films may increase your sex drive.' And it's like, do we really have to write this?" says Prause. She says that, rather than wearing a person out or warping their mind, a predilection for porn might be akin to a love of chocolate. Sure, you can overdo it but overindulging doesn't usually ruin chocolate for you forever.

Of course, masturbating to porn right before another sexual encounter can create some functioning problems but this research opens up the possibility that some non-partnered sexual activity may actually improve the partnered sex. More strongly, this study suggests that people shouldn't be so fast to blame performance or relationship issues on porn. It could be a factor but results like this encourage people to consider issues that have better support as being potential causes of erectile dysfunction, like stress, obesity, and poor cardiovascular health.