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Does watching porn decrease sex drive?

Last Updated: February 21, 2014

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

In her recent Men’s Health interview, the iconic Raquel Welch made some newsworthy comments about our culture’s view of sex. She says today we equate happiness with packing in as many sexual climaxes as we can get, regardless of what excites you. She says we live, unfortunately, in a culture of sex addicts.

What does Ms. Welch blame for this? She believes the “era of porn” is at least partially responsible for it.

These are ironic words coming from the lips of someone like Welch (a woman dubbed by Playboy the “Most Desired Woman” of the 70s). What does this international sex symbol have to say about modern porn?

Where is the anticipation and the personalization? It’s all pre-fab now. You have these images coming at you unannounced and unsolicited. It just gets to be so plastic and phony to me. Maybe men respond to that. But is it really better than an experience with a real life girl that he cares about? It’s an exploitation of the poor male’s libidos. Poor babies, they can’t control themselves…I just imagine them sitting in front of their computers, completely annihilated. They haven’t done anything, they don’t have a job, they barely have ambition anymore. And it makes for laziness and a not very good sex partner. Do they know how to negotiate something that isn’t pre-fab and injected directly into their brain?

Does watching porn “exploit” the male libido? Raquel says yes, and science agrees with her.

Participants in a study viewed only about five hours of pornography over a six week period. Afterwards they noticed a direct impact on their sexual satisfaction in real relationships. The more participants were exposed to porn, the less satisfaction they had with their intimate partners: they were less likely to be pleased with their partner’s physical appearance, affection, and sexual performance.

The delivery methods of porn are different than the days of Raquel pin-up posters. The Internet offers an endless stream of images and videos, offering a seemingly infinite supply of variety. Neurobiologist Peter Milner says “unfamiliar stimuli” have a rewarding component. Around every corner is something unfamiliar: a new girl, a new experience, a new video. Milner says it is possible “to become addicted to novelty and uncertainty.” When we train our minds to associate sexual excitement with novelty, they become impotent without their porn-fed fantasies.

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  • Comments on: Does watching porn decrease sex drive?
    1. zipporah on

      YES….. it COMPLETELY RUINS THEM and could make men PERMANENTLY IMPOTENT!! even young men! I’m noticing young people or couples together; SHE has her arms around HIS shoulders BUT he doesnt his arms around HERS….affection is ALWAYS before sexual activity. SHE is ALWAYS taxiiing HIM around but not Him..he is being too much of a gamer or porn boy…it’s horrible. I’m hoping it changes for my 17 yo daughter by the time she wants to marry in a few years. I’m also hearing women around 30 never married?! that was unheard of years ago–because I married at 30 and people in the family said FINALLY! they thought I wouldnt find someone later–1989

      Reply
    2. zipporah on

      LORD GOD forgive me : BUT I WOULD LOVE TO ‘BURN HUGH HEFNER IN EFFIGY’- since 1953-if it wasnt for him, we wouldnt have this problem today—also Candace Bergen that made the fatherlessness in the early 90s—maybe GOD will GRANT a miracle and have the PLAYBOY mansion become a place for unwed mothers to have their babies

      Reply
      • jake halsted on

        The title of this article misleads the reader into thinking that watching porn somehow biologically effects “sex drive.” While it may be true that watching good porn makes a man scrutinize his partner, in general it’s scientific fact that watching porn acutely increases testosterone.

      • Luke Gilkerson on

        More specifically, increased use of porn leads to greater sensitization—the appetite for porn gets stronger and more things in life become triggers for that desire. However, this also leads to desensitization—real life sex and other pleasures lose their luster. This post is about the process of desensitization. This book, The Porn Circuit, has a great explanation of the whole biological process.

    3. Janny on

      Thank you zipporah. I couldn’t agree more. My cousin who was 4yrs older found porn in his fathers nightstand. I was 6yrs old when his “innocent” eyes turned sinister and I became his target for the next 9yrs. Since he was also my neighbor I had nowhere to hide. I finally met and married the neighborhood bully believing he would protect me, but I didn’t realize he would beat me too. Another 10yrs of abuse until he finally decided to leave me for another woman.
      Àfter the pain settled I met and married the kindest man who gave me love and a child. I thanked God everyday for His grace. Within 2 yrs of soaking up all of this goodness I so longed for, I collapsed with kidney disease and am fighting for my life.
      Yesterday I just found him viewing Internet pornography. I cant even describe the pain it has left in me. Just as it began, so shall it end. God bless all the innocent lives who have felt the hurt, take your story and teach. Help. Tell. Only you know the damage. Only you can reach out with the compassion another child or wife needs. It can be your pain or your purpose to help others.

      Reply
    4. Steven Uhrik LCSW, CEAP on

      I don’t look at it, don’t subscribe to it. It becomes stimulus overload and ruins the imagination. I love a real woman and/or my imagination. Porn is not real, it’s only actors playing a role. Some people feel inadequate because they begin believing it is real or begin to compare themselves to it. That is corrosive to self-esteem. I am no prude, if you like it, that’s your personal choice. Not for me.

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    5. Rok on

      …Which seems like a great solution for men with a higher sex drive than her couple, doesn’t it?

      Reply
    6. Kristine on

      Observing my 51-year-old partner has led me to agree…Porn indeed slightly does diminish the sexual desire (erect penis) within our intimate sexual moments. ..He is still good…but does have problems a little more often :-/
      He is so much better with his focus and performance when not using porn.

      Reply

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