Gentlemen's time

Viewing smut doesn’t affect your sexual ability, but here’s what does…

porn arousal, adult films, Nicole Prause

Perhaps you’ve heard that if you (ahem) “enjoy” too many adult videos, it’ll make arousal difficult. Well, sex researcher Nicole Prause is here to tell you — that’s a gosh durn lie.

Prause studies human sexual behavior, addiction and the physiology of sexual response, and in a recent article, she wrote, “Seven independent labs have been unable to find an association between time spent viewing sex films and experiencing more erectile difficulties with a partner.”

Looking at previous sex studies, Prause found that sexual images and sex itself activate entirely different regions of the brain. For example, being touched by another person stimulates brain regions associated with socializing and sex. Watching someone else being stroked or stroking yourself doesn’t.

“Pictures of sex are not sex,” she writes. That is, the mere watching of adult videos can’t possibly account for a person’s lack of interest or physical response to sex. Rather, she found that masturbation is likely to be the cause for men’s non-arousal.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s an important distinction because few studies on smut-viewing and sexual response actually take masturbation into account — they assume that triple-X films alone are to blame for lower arousal. But if you watch Man-Slammerz in a lab without touching yourself, you’d probably run home to hump your honey(s) afterwards. Watching alone wouldn’t reduce your desire.

Related: GOP Platform Is Going After Internet Pornography, Which It Calls A “Public Health Crisis”

But you know what does affect your ability to get hard? Alcohol, medications, tiredness and anxiety, and a lack of sexual interest in partner(s). In fact, all of these often compel people to watch adult videos in the first place, she says, and all of them affect your ability to stay erect during intercourse. If your partner values non-penetrative sex or blames you for not getting hard — projecting their own insecurities on you — that’ll affect your wood as well.

She quotes Olympic fencer Jason Rogers:

“Most men think they should be able to snap their fingers, immediately get an erection, and perform like a champ. But sex is a complicated physiological and psychological process and virtually all men have struggled with this in the past. So cut yourself some slack.”

Blaming adult videos for a lack of arousal may actually drive some men away from them, when videos could in fact help them better understand their bodies, fantasies and sexual responses.

Rather than blaming smut for a lack of arousal, Prause says, “having open conversations about sex, admitting unusual sexual preferences, finding a partner who is supportive, and exploring fears about our own sexual body” can all help guys better understand their bodies much better than merely avoiding another viewing of Latex Bottomz Vol. 4.