Ask A Sex Therapist: Can Porn Damage Your Sex Life?

by Cay L. Crow

hands holding phone with porn on it and words porn tube behind it

Can Porn Hurt My Sex Life?

Dear Cay,

How much damage can porn do to one's sex life? I don't have much sex, which I really don't mind. I've got my hand, and I’m too worried about infection to enjoy casual sex. In the meantime, when I do have sex, I am slower to get a full-on erection than my partner. And a couple of these guys have been way-out-of-my-league, how-did-I-ever-score-this-guy attractive. When I'm out-of-shape and experiencing what seems to be ED while getting hit on by an aerobics instructor, it's a little disconcerting. But in front of the right kind of porn, I get rock-hard fast. I think that I've had too much of the porn fantasy and my brain and penis expect it every time, and the little flaws that even an aerobics instructor has will throw me off. Do you have any thoughts on the matter? I'd be interested in hearing about the potential dangers in porn from someone who is not approaching the matter from a religious mindset.

Tab

Porn Is Not The Problem

Dear Tab,

I don’t think that porn damages one’s sex life. It is the power that our culture hands over to porn that does damage. Erotic images have existed for thousands of years but it is our Puritan heritage that assumes such images are negative. It is not porn that is the problem but how we use it.

Porn Is Different Than Real Sex

With porn, everything is perfect and happens just like you want it to - that is NOT the case with real sex. You have a level of control with porn that you will never have with a real person - you can, using your imagination and technology, design the perfect guy who says and does just the right thing at the right time. With porn, there are no expectations of you. You don't even have to brush your teeth for a date with the computer. All you have to do is relax and engage your imagination. It is truly a short cut to orgasm. So what happens when you are with the twisted steel and sex appeal Bobby Biceps is anxiety and that can definitely hinder Mr. Happy from doing his thing. I would not label this as ED, since that usually occurs consistently across situations; let's call it erectile balking.

Go to the doctor and have a physical if you have not had one in the last six months (you did mention being out of shape). This is just a precaution to make sure there isn't something like heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes contributing to this issue. If everything is fine physically, you will know it is a contextual issue.

Make an effort to have more partnered sex. I get the impression that you are passively waiting for a potential partner to approach you. Part of what you are experiencing could be a conditioned response; you are having more sex with your hand and have associated erotic imagery with a quick erection. You are not having much partnered sex and are therefore less responsive in that context.

Try using porn every other time you masturbate and observe what happens. Use only your imagination for arousal. Also, try slowing down and being in your body during solo and partnered play. Take your time, don’t rush through it, feel what is happening and savor it. I sense that you have certain expectations of how sex is supposed to proceed. It is fine for an erection to occur slowly. Some of this might be based on your experiences with porn. There is no rush. Take your time. Talking with an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist will help thresh out other contributing factors.

There is no such thing as porn addiction. Sex or porn addiction is a cultural and social construct of a society that is sex negative. Neither term is an official diagnosis. Concepts like sex or porn addiction are based on the idea that there is such a thing as “too much sex.” I recommend that you read Dr. David Ley’s book, Ethical Porn for Dicks.

CAY L. CROW, LPC, AASECT-CERTIFIED SEX THERAPIST

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