When I get a call from a urologist to refer a patient suffering erectile dysfunction, my mind typically sees a 50 plus year old gentleman. Recently this image in my mind is being replaced with a 20+ year old that is addicted to internet porn. Viewing porn has been around for some time, but it has never been as accessible 24 hours a day to the majority of men. Women also view internet porn, but not to the same extent. Women aren’t as visual as men when it comes to sex. A clean dishwasher, red pumps, or an expensive handbag is more likely to turn women on.
Marnia Robinson, a former corporate lawyer, reported in “Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunction” that low libido (which is now happening to men in their twenties) is caused by continuous over-stimulation of dopamine, the same neurotransmitter that activates the body’s reaction to sexual pleasure by repeatedly viewing pornography on the Internet. This causes men to become desensitized to normal stimuli, and they need increasingly extreme experiences to become sexually aroused. Most of the young men I see never believed this could be a problem with Internet porn. In fact, the majority of them see me after seeing their Urologist only to hear that everything checks out normal. Although their testosterone and other health measures may be normal, the fact that they cannot achieve an erection is not normal. They suffer from an addiction and like all addictions, denial of the problem, and continuing to use the “vice” keeps it in place.
Internet porn addicts differ from porn addicts in that they don’t frequent strip clubs, and adult bookstores; rather, they isolate themselves while engaging in their addiction. They can spend hours or even lose days looking at Internet porn. Therefore, it is likely they are in a loveless marriage, or not dating. Their addiction takes over their life totally.
The most common signs and symptoms of an Internet porn addiction are listed below from a book titled, “The Porn Trap:”
Using the internet for hours with or without breaks
Becoming more anxious or depressed
They ignore friends, family, or personal responsibility
They lie about spending time on the internet and what they are doing while on the internet
They become irritable when internet use is disrupted
They anticipate when they may be able to use the internet again
If you are in a relationship with someone addicted to internet porn, you will notice they want less sex with you, seem to lack interest, and withdraw intimacy with you in many ways. They prefer spending time alone, and in the case of marriage, they withdraw from “family time” more and more.
There is a way out of addiction to Internet porn, but like any addiction, beginning is easier than quitting. These three suggestions are the best place to begin:
Cure depends mostly on the addict’s ability to see the problem. Knowing you have a problem is the first step to improving your life. If you are trying to help your partner give up Internet porn, try not to accuse harshly, but rather work with them at setting stronger boundaries. Just as with smokers or drinkers, the first time doesn’t always work with quitting.
Whenever you quit something that has been your main vice, you will have lots of extra time on your hands. During that time, you are not calm, but incredibly anxious and depressed, feeling flu-like and impulsive. Trying to quit an internet porn addiction without being enrolled in a support group will be less effective. When you are feeling at your weakest, being able to call a sponsor who has been where you are is reassuring and helps you stay away.
Explore new healthy coping mechanisms to help you deal with stress, anger, boredom, depression, and life. This is done most effectively with the help of a counselor or treatment center. Counselors and treatment centers work as a team to help make you stronger, since being isolated with your addiction is the worst thing you can do.
What may have begun innocently with a group of friends, can turn into a monster; isolating you from everyone, especially the one you love the most. At that point it is important that you shut off your phone, close your laptop, and take a good honest look at your life. The addicted mind will tell you all sorts of lies. When you believe your own lies, the addiction has conquered you. Having erectile dysfunction at the age of twenty-five or thirty because you cannot get turned on normally with your wife or girlfriend is not normal. For the health of it, get help.