The Day The Boner Died: Does Online Porn Cause Erectile Dysfunction?


When I got the angelic iPhone, it became my new boyfriend. I was on it 24/7: downloading apps, surfing Blendr, snuggling with it in bed watching Netflix. Then, it started: headaches. Eyestrain. Blurry vision.

“You need computer glasses,” my doctor announced. I protested weakly – my eyesight was perfect! Or at least, it had been. Doc said it was simply inevitable; as you get older, eyesight starts to deteriorate. But I have a sneaking suspicion,seeing as I’m not an AARP member quite yet, that my new boyfriend was more likely the culprit of my new four-eyes status. But give him up? NEVER!

Which leads me, quite circuitiously, to this topic. A friend who is a sex therapist (yes, that’s right, my friends are bad ass) passed along this article in New York Magazine about how the rise of online porn is affecting male libido – namely, the manner in which pornography is now viewed is affecting desire–and performance. My friend shared that more and more of her patients suffering from intermittent erectile dysfunction are getting younger – some as young as mid-20’s.

When I squealed in horror, she shook her head. “Think about it,” she said. “This is truly the first generation that has literally grown up with online porn.”

A possible reason for this boner killer? The article describes a kind of sexual ADD that is now prevalent amongst viewers of online porn:

“Most of the men I interviewed admitted having a similar habit of jumping quickly from porn clip to porn clip (which explains the rise and popularity of ‘cumshot’ montages and other rapidly edited compilations). Kerner went so far as to coin the term ‘sexual attention deficit disorder.’ For a lot of guys, switching gears from porn’s fireworks and whiz-bangs to the comparatively mundane calm of ordinary sex is like leaving halfway through an Imax 3-D movie to check out a flipbook.”

This quote from a guy describing sex with his wife in particular unnerved me: “‘In order to come, though, I’ve got to resort to playing scenes in my head that I’ve seen while viewing porn. Something is lost there. I’m no longer with my wife; I’m inside my own head.'”

See…I have been there myself. In a relationship that was trudging steadily downhill, and where sex was coming in a distant second to “Masterpiece Theatre,” I found myself during intercourse not only doing the whole “pretend he’s someone else” bit, I was trying to recall porn scenes verbatim that got me off – at more desperate times, desperate measures called for a literal “top ten highlight reel” played in rapid succession in my mind’s eye. I remember being silently furious when he suggested we watch a porn whilst doing it, because it wouldn’t be the one I liked, the scene I liked, nor the necessary shot I needed to get off; instead it would be a maddening, frustrating distraction.

The article goes on to describe how women are now trying to compete with porn stars, not only in appearance (pink starfish, anyone?) but with Oscar-worthy turns, causing their male counterparts to freak the fuck out (STOP ACTING LIKE YOU’RE ON MY COMPUTER!). This goes both ways – from the unfortunate pussy-slapping to the tragically misguided notion that anal sex is as congestion-free as the 405 during Carmaggedon. As my sex therapist friend explains, “online porn has become our go-to for sex ed,” and it’s worse than the unedited version of Rick Perry’s Wikipedia entry. (No offense, Rick.)
I personally would agree with the double-whammy of performance anxiety and appearance that this rampant proliferation of porn has caused; indeed, I have mewled to a lover on occasion: “are you SURE I don’t have a muff-burger?!?”, while attempting to enthusiastically power-fuck him through the wall to the neighbor’s living room.

So, what’s the solution to all this insanity of a 30-second clip (wait, 37 seconds…buffering…) quite possibly dictating the continuation of the human race? Turn off the damn computer. You don’t have to throw the babe out with the bath water; my friend suggests images of a more static nature. “Not a bad idea to dust off those Playboy mags,” she says with a wink. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to bond with something other than your deflowered keyboard. As for me? I’ll try to keep the mental masturbation to a dull roar; and whilst Michael Fassbender may be one of my pinch hitters, I don’t care to have to someday imagine him like this:

New York Magazine: He’s Just Not That Into Anyone