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[flagged] Is porn making young men impotent? (theguardian.com)
82 points by drugme 43 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 84 comments

Fully quitting porn has had a tremendous positive impact in my life. But it was extremely difficult to do it. I’ve found a group of people to help and support me through this and our experiences are fairly similar.

I would say that anyone who thinks porn isn’t affecting them should try to quit fully for a few months and see. It costs nothing, and you might find out that you have less control than you thought. The effects can be more subtle than what is mentioned in this article: for example constantly craving for novelty despite being in a good relationship with someone you love.

I kinda went the opposite path to the same end result. In my 20s I watched almost no porn. This was kinda crazy to most people.

When I did pick up the habit for a while after I had kids, I noticed a marked decline in my interest in putting out "effort" to have romance when a video would suffice.

I found porn made me lazy, not impotent. Anyway, cutting that out has been really good, it makes me have to work to maintain a healthy relationship with my wife.

This is obviously anecdotal, I went through a lot of changes in that time period as well, not working out as much, having kids, etc. But it's a little thing I can control to make life happier.

I haven't quit (yet) but I did have a moment of revelation. I realized that I was taking all this effort, closing my eyes trying to bring back moments from videos. Then I opened my eyes and looked into the face of my spouse, and rediscovered something.

How did you quit? I just can't seem to do it for long :(

I'm struggling with it. I guess that realizing that it is a problem helps. Remember, porn is not the problem, abuse of it is.

Its to the point that I can't sleep well without it. That's bad.

What I'm doing, right now, is to create a simple chart of the days that I venture to the "dark side". So when I do go, I know in the back of my mind that I will have to write this stuff down.

Another step is, when you find yourself going down that rabbit hole, to do you best to stop it immediately. Your mind is very clever at making excuses like "You deserve to see this. Its just this one time. Promise." For me, what I ended up having to do is to get out of the room of the device and let myself relax.

Its getting warmer out. So I'll probably take a walk around the block if I notice the habit returning. I want to get rid of it so badly.

Support groups are out there either virtually or in person. Perhaps that's another way to go about it.

Good luck!

I tried a lot of things. Ultimately admitting it was an addiction and seeking professional treatment. This program was very powerful for me and is ultimately what got me clean.


Every time you feel like looking at porn, do 25 push ups.

Have you been successful with this? I think there is a real need to go much deeper psychologically into figuring out why you are drawn to it, what needs it fulfills and how to fulfill those needs in healthier ways. That plus vigorously pursuing a set of goals.

Isn't it much more likely the marked decline in testosterone is to blame?


Relevant Image: https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/1*n6SXZ6_p4vX9sprDI...

A man in the 1980s had a testosterone level of around 525, that level is now getting into the 400s, this is a massive change in the hormone that is responsible for sex drive, etc.

But what might be causing the decline in T? That's what the article is trying to address.

My bet, BTW, is with "multiple factors".

> But what might be causing the decline in T?

The things that T contributes to becoming less important to survival, social status, and economic status probably are all factors. There's a number or candidate physical environmental factors, too, IIRC.

Sure, but if one of them is more easily controllable maybe more research in the direction would provide some low hanging fruits.

Not to go all MRA here, but nobody cares. Nobody's going to bother with the research and meta-analyses required to get to the bottom of the matter. Our health concerns are of no concern to this society.

And while many states are legalizing marijuana, it's still a life-ending felony in all 50 to get caught with a vial of Testosterone Enanthante in one's gym bag.

Even if you have a valid prescription, e.g. for ART / TRT?

I'm not going to raise the MR issue, but when you say "nobody cares" it seems you're definitely hyperbolizing a bit.

We've also been weeding out high testosterone men to some extent. For the last century, we've been putting a large number of high testosterone men in prison.

Being in prison for part of your life doesn't rule out passing your genes off to your kids. Your post made me do a bit of googling, and it looks like about half of the men in prison have kids before they go in. Some will certainly have kids after they are out.

> Being in prison for part of your life doesn't rule out passing your genes off to your kids.

It plausibly could have a negative impact and the probability that you have children that themselves have children; I suspect that children of imprisoned fathers are more likely than the population average to die before having children themselves.

My money is still on cell phones radiation from the front pocket.

I'm betting it's more from change of diet and physical activity. Increased exercise or just walking will increase your testosterone levels (in men.)

I can almost immediately feel the effects myself from just a week’s exercise and the major benefits in general well being and lust. No scientific evidence of course, but I think research should begin looking there...

There is so much shit (literally) in our water and food supply. But also birth control, opioids, microplastics, you-name-it. Seattle mussels test positive for opioids(1). Chemicals leech from plastics. America has mass-scale addiction to prescription drugs. Pollution is everywhere the world. Neurotoxins are household gardening or anti-pest remedies.

Livestock have also shifted from grazing to eating soy- or corn-based products. Fish are more-likely to be farmed.

Nobody knows what the true long-term consequences of this are.

I think people would also be surprised to see what happens on farms. Seeing chickens and pigs eat mice and rats while knowing how much garbage and neurotoxins are laid out for those pests--they end up inside humans.


Things testing positive for opioids is more of an artifact of how sensitive these tests are. You would also test positive after eating a poppy bagel.

Yup. I don't have the study unfortunately, but it was in the past couple years that a university did a study on males who kept their phone in the pockets. They found they had a lower sperm count than those that didn't keep their phone there.

Not this again.

I actually watched Larry King on CNN when he had the person with the brain tumor say 'My cell phone gave me this tumor'... And lo and behold the meme is now "Cellphones cause X"

If, however you want a good hormone disruptor candidate, look no further than BPA and other estrogen-like compounds. With the amount of plastic we have in our biosphere, along with 'interesting' resultants from decomp, my money'd be on hormone disruption.

I have to wonder if any uni is actively investigating this. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/xenoestrogen is very much a thing.

It’s porn? No, it’s low testosterone. No, it’s cell phones. No, it’s plastic.

We are so adamant about finding the “one true cause” of any given thing that we don’t stop to consider that it doesn’t matter what it actually is.

If we pretend it’s all of them, what’s the worst outcome? We watch less porn, eat better food, spend less time with our phone and use less plastic? What a terrible scenario that would be. We might do all these good things for no good reason!

It’s the same problem we have with climate change. Always looking for the scapegoat instead of recognizing that the problem can be alleviated without finding the one true cause, assuming there even is one.

The problem is, how do you know those are good things?

Clearly all of those things have some benifits, else we wouldn't be doing them in the first place. To stop doing them because they might be harmful would make the world a worst place if they are not actually harmful.

And if we actually want to solve a problem, understanding its cause is generally important.

For instance imagine solving global warming without establish the cause is greanhouse gasses. Sure, we might make the world "better" by starting a campaighn to cure all the gay people, but that won't actually help with global warming, and would actually make the world worst (the first statement is fact, the second is a value judgement)

We know that excessive porn consumption is bad. We know that excessive cell phone use is bad. We know that excessive single use plastics are bad. You don't need a research study to confirm these things the same way you didn't really did a research study to know that smoking was bad. We all feign ignorance because we want to keep doing the thing that's convent or feels good.

Global warming is such a great example. Instead of doing anything we all argue about what's really causing it. Some people say it's a natural cycle, some people blame it on cars, some people want to blame it on livestock. It doesn't really matter. In fact, I hope somehow the "climate deniers" end up being right. I really, genuinely hope, that we find out that the rise in CO2 is part of a natural cycle. Because then there's a real sense of urgency. Reduced consumption is no longer a single solution. If it's part of a natural cycle we have to reduce consumption to zero immediately AND find a way to remove CO2 form the atmosphere or we will just be the next victim of mass extinction.

For a lot of problems the exact cause doesn't matter because we already know what the solution is. We just have to accept the fact that solution is bundled with a bunch of other things, and if we do them all we might accidentally do something excessive, like make the air cleaner in the process.

Spending less time carrying a device that can call an ambulance in minutes would have serious consequences.

No it wouldn't.

You don't need to carry a phone with you everywhere you go all the time and keep it in your pocket. Hell, a lot of phones don't even fit in pockets anymore. You can keep it on your desk or in your bag. You can even do something crazy like leave it at home or in your car and go to the beach. You probably won't die. And because you live in a world with other people in it, it's possible that if you do set your phone down for a little bit and you have a medical emergency someone else could call for you.

So, you're a science denier? Or do you have specific refutations of the linked GP paper to the NIH?

I also linked to a valid area, and asked if there were human studies in synthetic estrogens and plastic byproducts. You know... Science.

Did you respond to the wrong comment?

Bad diet is much more likely the culprit.

In my personal experience, no.

My testosterone level is currently lower than even most women, and I can still get an erection.

I don’t think that was really his point? There are always outliers, but in general the trend is still true...

From the linked study:

"While non-organic sexual dysfunctions have been presumed psychological in origin, and therefore the province of mental health experts, the unexplained sexual dysfunctions now rising sharply in young men (ED, difficulty orgasming, low sexual desire) are, to the extent they are reversible by quitting Internet pornography, not arising from “performance anxiety” (that is, psychosexual dysfunction, ICD-9 code 302.7), although performance anxiety may certainly accompany them."

It seems they fall short of saying porn is "making" these men impotent, but rather that quitting porn does improve the situation.

Today's porn is just too crass to compete with real life. Hans Billian's oevre was slightly silly, and Patricia Rhomberg could actually act, and nowadays it's violent excess, and good sex isn't like that. No surprise that laying off BIG COCK DESTROYS ASIAN STEPSISTERS ANUS improves things.

The porn market is very diverse, there's plenty of loving/reasonable porn, you just have to work to find it. Your criticism about porn being "crass" is a good description of mainstream porn, which being "mainstream" is of course a problem. The porn industry is influenced by tracking data - this is why the popular "tube" sites are dominated by extremes, family and taboo porn - it gets clicks.

Similar to Facebook, and other social media - giving people more (and more, and more) of what they like can have serious dangers.

>there's plenty of loving/reasonable porn

A lot of it has a blue icon beside it on a certain website that also has orange in its color scheme. The whole point of that icon is to denote content less likely to be of a mainstream/professional nature. Of course that never stopped anyone from putting every keyword imaginable in the title.

This website has orange in its color scheme. I suspect you mean a different one, however.

>> "The porn market is very diverse, there's plenty of loving/reasonable porn, you just have to work to find it."

Very true. Furry porn is overflowing with loving expression. It might not be coincidence that most furry artists (and furries in general) are something other than cisgender and heterosexual men.

Not sure reasonable is a word I would use to describe furry porn...

I'll take sifting through the weird stuff over the rape simulation and fake moans popular in commercial porn.

PornHub's statistics [1] don't really indicate that violent excess is all that popular. Now lesbians, hentai and milfs are unlikely to feature in the average male's sex life, and maybe that leads to unrealistic expectations, but it's still far from violent.

[1] SFW, it's just a chart https://cs.phncdn.com/insights-static/wp-content/uploads/201...

Here it is at imgur: https://i.imgur.com/sPG2575.png

I rehosted it because the domain phncdn.com could get people in trouble at some employers, even if the content is not pornographic.

Now lesbians, hentai and milfs are unlikely to feature in the average male's sex life

I've read that many prostitutes are single mothers. (I think such activities should be allowed between consenting adults, but please don't break the law in your jurisdiction.) Hentai can simply be downloaded and watched.

Ah yes, including the ever-popular mythical 'teen' category, which strictly speaking limits your pornstars to women aged 18 and 19.

It must be hard for the actresses when they enter the gap between teen and milf porn age wise (unless you are Japanese according to that chart).

Get off my lawn of porn.

Discussions around the negative effects of pornography are infected with insufferable religious moralizing. Nevertheless there is some really interesting and concerning evidence that porn is a uniquely addictive behavior. A striking pop-sci illustration is at [1]. The source cited for this graphic is pretty dodgy, but there's plenty of research out there that supports the same conclusions. I like [2] for summaries and links to studies.

1 - https://visual.ly/community/infographic/health/porn-effects-...

2 - https://www.yourbrainonporn.com/relevant-research-and-articl...

Alternate hypothesis: We want the problem to be the porn, otherwise the issue is societal. And that's terrifying because we would have no tools to investigate or understand the problem (let alone fix it).

If stopping porn treats the symptoms though: phew, we can all sleep at night knowing that there is nothing wrong with the way society collectively rears children (through parents, school, "SFW" media) that leads to anything less than healthy sexual relationships.

Here's a more specific take in that vein. It's an interesting way of thinking about the topic, even if it doesn't convince you of anything: https://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2011/02/hes_just_not_that_in...

Came here for the dumpster fire, was not disappointed.

My own take: Erotica is a good thing to the degree that it takes the edge off of libido. Being dragged around by your "little man" is a curse, and your life will greatly improve once you figure out how to stop this (one way or another).

Your first reaction to a naked woman should be "meh". It's only after you know her well that it might be more.

Is there a similar problem with romance novels, addicting women to the domamine/norephinephrine rush, less interested in the local talent? Maybe we can extend the issue to the whole hyper stimulated media saturated culture.

A paleo media diet may be the right direction. Confine ourselves mostly to the nearest practical approximation of the info environment we evolved with, a bubble of a few dozen people and the work that sustains us. That would result in people with smaller lives, but maybe also healthier ones. But then people inclined to believe this wouldn't be reading this.

I have always dreamed of doing this, but wouldn’t this also allow me to shut out all the negative impacts my own existence is tied to? Like political and environmental news? I think we all have a slight social responsibility to be aware of the world around us.

I forget where I heard this, but one approach is to simply lag behind the news by a week or so, on the premise that anything meaningful to you as a citizen/voter will continue to be relevant a week later. (Obviously there are exceptions for policy makers, or when some news is otherwise salient to one's profession.)

In practice, a significant portion of the news habit is a sort of FOMO, a desire to be included in water-cooler conversations, complete with intelligent opinions and "hot takes". Which is fine as far as it goes; but, it does come at the cost of the emotional rollercoaster of a highly manipulative news cycle (not to mention tribal battle lines[0]). Those who focus their water-cooler game on relative trivialities like sports and pop culture might actually be on to something.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE3j_RHkqJc

Nope, and this is part of the building case against Porn in the UK. Please ignore the lies coming from the UK, this will only ramp up as the Porn Ban is rolled out - that is correct, porn will be blocked by default in the UK.

Downvoted. If you live in the UK, you will need to buy a 'perverts card' in order to prove your age. This will of course lead building of biggest Blackmail database outside of the Intelligence Community. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

It's more the constant variety of HD porn that triggers the dopamine so much that men built up such a high tolerance for the level of depravity. Sort of like a drug addict.

And it all stems from the mind. Think about it. The trigger/need to watch porn stems from the mind before the body responds with an erection.

The mind is a powerful tool which can be used for good or bad.

I think this is related to the foods we are eating. It does catch up with you. Also exercise as well can help keep testosterone levels up.

I would agree that this probably is a variable, but I wouldn't dismiss the effect of porn either.

> When he was 23, he said: “I tried to have sex with a beautiful girl, a woman I was extremely attracted to, and nothing happened. I couldn’t feel any physical arousal and couldn’t get the slightest bit of an erection.”

Could that be due to an entirely different reason? A gay man would react in the same way, for example.

I can't wait for their follow up article:

"Are eggs making young women fertile".


you really need to read things before knee-jerk blaming everything on "moral outrage"


If your rights and confidence are inversely proportional to other's people rights and confidence then you have a seriously toxic problem that you should address.

They aren't and I was being flippant

Betteridge's law of headlines...

This isn't a cast iron law. There are many, many, 100's of examples even, where this law isn't true.

Sure, but as heuristics go, this one is pretty good.

No. News at 11. Leno after. You won’t stay up for midnight at the Apollo.

> News at 11.

The saying is "film at 11."


shrug I’m quoting myself.

My naive hypothesis is that health problems are only going to get worse because we've killed the fundamental constant force of improvement in nature: natural selection. Industrial countries people have way weaker health and more health problems than countries with bad health and hygiene systems. I'm definitely not advocating for a Social Darwinism but our genetics will only get worse in the context of an ever changing ecosystem that surround us. Sometimes we think we live in a bubble outside of the ecosystems but we don't. If we don't find a solution for this we're definitely doomed.

The fact that first world countries/ wealthy people are not having many kids and that third world countries/ poor people are having a lot of kids is very problematic. Natutal selection is seemingly going in the opposite direction to were we want it.

Though to argue against this point, humans every year score on average better than they did last year on old IQ tests. The size of human skulls and brains are also increasing too, so natural selection may be working, just in a different way than we would expect.

The Idiocracy hypothesis you're basically expressing is false.

I only follow US data somewhat closely, so this is a US-centric claim, but I suspect the same is true elsewhere.

Teenagers, the poor, and the less educated are seeing much sharper fertility declines than the wealthier or better educated.

Teen births are down 55% since 07.

Statistically poorer minority groups are seeing the sharpest fertility declines, more than double the decline that White or Asian groups are seeing. (I can't find income-based data, just racial)

Likewise, fertility has fallen for the college-educated (bachelor's degree) by only half as much as for the less educated.

Birth rates are getting less like the "Idiocracy hypothesis" than they were before, not more.


I don't agree with many of the political views of this organization, but they do wrap up all the data in a nice article with good graphs here:


> Though to argue against this point, humans every year score on average better than they did last year on old IQ tests

This is called the Flynn effect. It unfortunately peaked in the mid 80's, and is now on a steady decline.

Did not know that. It makes sense though, because a lot less people are malnuiroshed than before.

> Natutal selection is seemingly going in the opposite direction to were we want it.

You have to compare childhood mortality rates. Countries with high rates of childhood mortality see mothers having more children.

The cost of having a child also factors into it, in Western countries each child is really expensive. (30k for birth in the US! And that is just the cost to get started!)

Also you are making the implicit assumption that people in poorer countries are having "worse" babies than people in developed countries.

Off the top of my head, a few countries that used to be looked down upon by everyone else include England, Germany, Ireland, and the US. Also all of northern Europe, all of SW Asia, and all of East Asia. The fact that China thought the same thing about Europe that Europe thought about China is also a good indicator that "undeveloped" is a rather crude benchmark.

Every major study has shown that if you correct for environmental pollution, childhood nutrition, and childhood health care, IQs between regions of the world are all within spitting distance of each other, and human potential falls along a nice bell curve.

tl;dr clean up the air, feed the kids, get them to doctors, and everyone thrives. Also stable environments means there be less pressure to have lots of kids, so the population will stabilize than decline.

Natural selection is definitely still at play. For e.g. look at the parents who've decided against vaccinating their children which is now leading to the re-emergence of many diseases and viruses we've already eradicated. That's natural selection. It comes in many forms. Humans will never defeat nature, and we shouldn't be so arrogant to think we can. We are still subject to climate, weather events, and our own stupidity. At least we can complain about it on [insert internet forum/social media of choice here].

rafiki6 43 days ago [flagged]

Not sure why I got down voted. Is there anything I said that's factually incorrect?

Unfortunately it has the knock on affect of effecting those who are too young to get vaccines and people who really do have issues with vaccines and can’t get them.

m0skit0 43 days ago [flagged]

So I'm getting downvoted for proposing a hypothesis? Not that I really care but come on, at least discuss it ;)

I didn't downvote you, but it's not a new hypothesis and it hinges on a giant assumption: that gene-level evolution is all that matters, and that gene expression, environment and culture aren't also important factors in evolution and life outcomes.

Never said it is new, and still not a reason to downvote but to discuss. Very disappointed at HN.

Yeah, epigenetics, however that is not my point. My point is that the genetic pool is degrading and environment and culture are not going to fix that.

Please take this as helpful feedback rather than a rebuke:

None of us are entitled to upvotes or replies on HN, or indeed on any web forum.

Some people have made thoughtful replies to your comment and that's great.

Others have signalled their disapproval of your comment by downvoting.

Chances are it was just one or two people out of the thousands/millions who frequent this site, yet you criticise the entire community.

There are good reasons why complaints about downvotes are against the guidelines [1]: they make for uninteresting reading, and the time would be better spent thinking about how to express your ideas in ways that are better received.

In this case: I replied with a reason why people may have downvoted your comment on the basis that it may not be scientifically sound, but you simply dismissed that response out of hand, without providing any evidence or material from which anyone could learn anything new.

Dang recently wrote a helpful comment about HN's downvoting culture [2].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19214965

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