Tag Archive | Porn-ED Out

Porn-ED Out: Erectile Dysfunction in the Age of the Internet

 

One of the things I successfully treat in my practice is porn-induced erectile dysfunction. With the ease of the internet and on-line accessibility erectile dysfunction has become more of a brain affliction and less a of phallic performance problem. Of course, by the time someone shows up at my office their symptoms of ED are very real and they have tried everything from: supplements, medication, injections, abstinence, isolation, and maybe even no more porn. The bottom-line: ED is a lonely, shame-filled business.

What the research supports is that 4 hours of porn a week can change the neuroplasticity of the brain. In brain scans of chronic porn users the brain shows increased grooves and density. Miraculously, after 2 years of recovery a follow-up brain scan depicts a very different brain. All the old thinking suggested the brain was a fixed entity after early childhood development. Alas, 5 years of age or earlier your brain was fixed for life! We have discovered this is not the case; the brain just like the rest of the body can and does, heal and change.

A typical client gets caught in the porn loop often as a way to “check-in” on their erection so they can be prepared for sex with an actual partner. Unfortunately, sex with yourself and sex with a partner don’t run on the same cerebral juice or physical sensation. The wife of one of my clients said to her husband in recovery, “I remember watching you masturbate once and thinking my vagina will never be that tight.” Once an arousal template of on-line images combined with the controlled pressure of masturbation is set in place, the vagina of a partner ultimately becomes less and less satisfying. For starters none of us make love in real life like porn stars and once another person is involved in sex play the “in control factor” goes out the window.

Many of the clients I treat are highly successful with a heavy performance agenda outside of the bedroom. This makes it all the more baffling that the one thing in their life that cannot be controlled or changed without seeking help is their erectile function. Treatment of ED from an anxiety perspective is not necessarily long term therapeutic work. You won’t be on the couch forever talking about your dreams with a shrink. That said if the healing solution to porn and masturbation is a sexual re-set, i.e. putting boundaries around porn, without a combined exploration of the psychological underpinnings successful partner sex is usually short lived. In other words, just saying no to porn doesn’t appear to entirely heal ED.

I do recommend that my clients see a doctor in order to rule out any physical connection or cause when it comes to ED. Without question, seeing a physician along with an urologist is an important step in the recovery process. Once in a blue moon the cause of ED can be physically addressed but usually it becomes an endorsement for clients to really dig in and do the necessary psychological work.

One of the interesting aspects about the availability of internet porn is that addiction and sexual compulsivity used to be held in the therapeutic community as part of a grievance story: my parents locked me in a cage in the basement and fed me only cold potatoes so I started masturbating. Yes, sometimes compulsive masturbation does initially start from a trauma and become an on-going numbing process that is perpetuated by an anxiety driven grievance story, but not always. Sometimes masturbation to on-line porn begins as a part of normal adolescent sexual development and then becomes a numbing process, a way to self-regulate. Can’t sleep, I think I will masturbate. Tough day at work, I need to masturbate. Lonely, how about masturbation? To put it simply masturbation feels good and men without wrecked childhoods get caught in the porn/ ED loop before they know what hit them. So internet porn has birthed 2 camps of porn users, those with childhood traumas and those without childhood traumas. Wherever you or someone you know falls, in or between these 2 camps, the road to recovery is the same.

The saddest thing about ED is that it is highly treatable and yet some men don’t want to see a therapist, don’t believe in therapy and wait years before seeking help. Men are at a disadvantage sexually because there is so much cultural stigma around being a “sex god”, virility, and hard erections as the defining factors of what it means to be a man. The social norms do not give men a very large window to define masculinity or support the communication skills necessary to talk openly about sexual dysfunction.

I want to add this twist to a familiar saying, “See the change you want to be in the world.” Therapy provides insight, inner-sight and regardless of what started the porn /ED problem, the solution looks similar: start with a porn masturbation fast, see a therapist that specializes in sexuality and addiction and your life will change. I have seen it in my practice without fail.

Links that might be helpful:

http://www.amenclinics.com/the-science/spect-gallery/alcohol-and-drug-abuse/

www.addictionrecoveryguide.org/articles/article151.html