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Men who watch too much porn enjoy sex less: study

A new research study found that men who frequently indulge in pornography enjoy a less fulfilling sex life, a situation that one local doctor says is at the root of many of his patients’ personal perils.

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Arkansas and published in the December 2014 issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior, claimed that too much porn negatively affects “men’s expectations and behaviors during sexual encounters.”

Researchers surveyed 487 American college men, aged 18 to 29, to understand the role pornography plays in real-world sexual encounters between heterosexual men and women.

Dr. Dan Pollets, a credentialed sex therapist based in Medford, offered Metro insight on porn addiction, and tips on how to tackle the habit.

Metro: Have you found that porn negatively affects men’s sex lives?

Pollets: Yes. I treat a lot of sex addicts, specifically those who have become addicted or compulsive regarding pornography. That is the biggest category, and it’s growing.

Metro: What are the effects?

Pollets : A lot of wives complain that the man is not present during lovemaking. The earlier the exposure, and the higher the frequency and the longer the duration of viewing, the more it affects real life sexual behavior. It is difficult for men to focus on their partner and become aroused with real human contact. Common symptoms are that they can’t get aroused, they have erectile dysfunction, they can’t ejaculate, they just don’t have an interest in the ho-hum of real life sex.

Metro : Is porn ever a problem with women?

Pollets: I think women who have sex addictions don’t go seek out help because of shame or discomfort. In my 33 years of work, I could count on my fingers the number of female porn addicts. They exist, they’re just not telling me. But I have a steady, non-ending flow of men, and I don’t know where the women are going. Plus, women tend to be love addicts, not porn addicts.

Metro : Does porn set the bar too high?

Pollets : In porn, men’s penises and the length of their erections are highly unrealistic. The average [erect penis] is 6 inches, but the average of porn actors is about 8 or 9 inches. So men have an unrealistic sense of inadequacy about their bodies. And the way the women look and act in porn don’t typically match up with real life, either. If your brain becomes seared with those images – if that is your sexual diet – of course you won’t enjoy real life sex.

Metro: So how much porn is too much?

Pollets: People who deal with addiction are a little bit hesitant to give specifics; much like those who drink alcohol. But I’d say if pornography is affecting their capacity for intimacy and relationships then it’s a big problem. If you’re spending more than four times a week, and more than 15 minutes each time; if you’re doing it every day, for multiple hours per day; and obviously if you’re choosing that over other things… If you’re honest with yourself, you know whether it’s just a relief and you’d much rather have an orgasm with another human being, or whether it’s your avoidance of other human beings.

Metro: Why do guys love porn so much?

Pollets : It’s free. They think, ‘Hey, there’s no down side… I’d rather watch my screen.’ Nowadays, they don’t even have to buy a magazine from a store clerk and deal with that shame. Looking at such provocative images releases dopamine in the brain, and that feeling is just a click away.

Metro: But isn’t masturbation healthy?

Pollets : If you want to masturbate, I’d recommend you do it to images in your brain. If you do use porn, just set a limit. Regulate it, manage it, and be aware. It’s a slippery slope.

Metro: Can’t porn spice up a couple’s sex life?

Pollets : If you view it together, and use it as an enhancement, the argument can be made that it’s fine, as long as it doesn’t take you out of the moment. It’s better than a man being isolated, watching it alone.

Metro: How can porn addicts get help?

Pollets : The first step is to acknowledge that their sexuality and behavior are out of control. Are they not managing their lives appropriately? Are they not able to have relationships? There is a 12-step program called Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. There are also sex therapists who can help rewire and reset your sex template.

 
 
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