What is Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction and How to Beat It

What is Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction and How to Beat It
Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
15th July 2020

Erections aren’t always easy for millions of men in the UK. It’s no big deal. Choose from highly effective, clinically proven solutions.

In 30 seconds…

PIED (Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction) is a relatively new phenomenon, where viewing a lot of porn on a regular basis is thought to result in ED. While there’s concern among many young men about this condition, more scientific research is needed to prove a solid link between watching porn and suffering from ED. If you feel that porn could be negatively affecting your sex life, there are ways to kick the habit and enjoy better sex with your partner.

ED (Erectile Dysfunction) Defined

First, what do we mean when we talk about ED? ED is the inability to achieve or maintain a sufficiently hard erection, so that sex with a partner becomes difficult or impossible. Millions of men across the UK experience erectile dysfunction  – it’s a very common condition.

There could be many different causes of ED. Your physical health is a major factor: serious medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes can lie behind ED, as can lifestyle choices such as drinking a lot of alcohol, smoking, and taking recreational drugs. 

ED can also be a result of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and childhood trauma. Temporary ED due to stress or tiredness is also very normal, and often corrects itself in time.

What is PIED (Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction)?

It’s thought that too much exposure to porn can negatively impact your ability to get an erection and enjoy a healthy sex life. Men suffering from PIED often have decreased sensitivity to real-life sex, and they can also become dissociated from sex as a physical experience to be shared with a partner.

Moreover, viewing the impossibly perfect (and airbrushed) bodies of male porn actors may also have a damaging effect. Men can lose self-confidence and suffer from poor body image, which impacts their ability to perform in bed. This can be coupled with an unrealistic expectation of women’s bodies, and also of sexual acts and performance (e.g. multiple orgasms, lengthy 1hr + sex, etc.). 

As higher numbers of young men are now experiencing erectile dysfunction than in previous years (around one in four new ED patients are under 40 years old), it’s easy to see why the prevalence of internet porn is widely blamed for this phenomenon.

PIED: The Evidence

Judging by the number of people researching PIED online and seeking help from therapists for porn-related sexual disorders, it’s clear that many men are feeling the negative impact of porn on their sex lives. There have also been a number of small scientific studies into the effects of excessive porn viewing, but more research is needed to prove a solid link between porn and ED.

One 2014 study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal found a moderate link between more hours of porn watched and a reduction in the grey matter in the sections of the brain associated with sexual stimulation. The media jumped on this story at the time, prompting the NHS to engage in some myth-busting.

There was also an Italian study in 2011 which found evidence that high porn consumption caused a drop in libido and an inability to get an erection in young men. However, the condition was reversible with “proper assistance”. In contrast, other research has shown that viewing erotic material can have a positive effect on men’s sex lives. A 2015 study published in the Sexual Medicine journal found that watching sexual content was associated with an increase in desire for sex with a partner.

So, although there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that porn is causing or contributing to ED, more research into porn induced erectile dysfunction is needed to build up a clearer picture.

Viagra (Sildenafil)

The little blue pill

It’s the active ingredient in Viagra. MHRA approved and clinically proven to be highly effective by increasing blood flow into the penis.


Best for
One off use
Effective in
8 out of 10 men
Dosage
50 to 100mg

How to Beat PIED

If you feel that you’ve become too dependent on porn to become aroused and it’s impacting your ability to maintain an erection or have satisfying sex with your partner, don’t despair – you can beat the condition. Here are some first steps to consider:

  • Go to your GP: The first thing to do is to rule out other causes for your ED. Going to your GP and getting yourself checked out will make sure there’s no underlying health condition behind it. If your ED has a physical cause, they may prescribe an effective medical treatment such as Sildenafil or Tadalafil.
  • Talk about it: You could also talk through your dependence on porn with a trained counsellor or sex therapist. They will help you understand why your enjoyment of porn has got out of hand and work with you on any mental health issues that may be contributing to the situation.
  • Involve your partner: If you have a partner, their support will be crucial to help you get through PIED. Don’t shut them out – be honest and open about your problem and your hope of recovery.

Once you’ve sought the right medical and psychological help, there are also some practical steps you can take to break your dependence on porn and get back to a satisfying sex life:

  • Go cold turkey: First, you can stop watching porn completely. Set a goal of how long you will aim to go without – 90 days is a sensible period.
  • Stop masturbating: At the same time as you’re giving up porn, it’s also important to stop masturbating for a while – perhaps a month. This will help draw a line between these old destructive sexual behaviours and your new approach to sex.
  • Fill your time: You can fill the time you would have spent watching porn and masturbating with a different activity. Physical exercise is ideal, as this will also boost your overall health and wellbeing, preparing the way for better sex.
  • Rediscover pleasure: After the set time off, you can start masturbating again but – and this is the important part – without porn. This way, you can remind yourself of the pleasure of the physical sensations that don’t depend on porn. Try to avoid visualising images from porn while you’re masturbating, though.
  • Enjoy sex with a partner: When you’re confident that you can achieve and sustain an erection while masturbating, you might feel ready to try sex with a partner again. During sex, focus on the physical sensations you’re feeling as well as on your partner and their responses.
Cialis (Tadalafil)

The weekend pill

Known as the “weekend pill” because it is effective for up to 36 hours, Tadalafil is the generic, unbranded version of Cialis. Clinically proven to help you get an erection when you need it.


Best for
Weekend use
Effective in
Effective in 8 out of 10 men
Dosage
2.5mg, 10mg, 20mg

Key Takeaways…

We’ve got a way to go before we fully understand the link between ED and porn, but it’s clear that dependence on porn is getting in the way of fulfilling sex for a lot of men today. Remember: Porn doesn’t have to take over your sex life. If you’re experiencing ED and you think porn might be the culprit, you can kick the habit and rediscover satisfying sex. Just reach out and find the help you need.

Erections aren’t always easy for millions of men in the UK. It’s no big deal. Choose from highly effective, clinically proven solutions.

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Further reading

From our health centre. Experts, information and hot topics. See all Erectile Dysfunction articles