Can watching porn make you better in bed?

A UCLA/Concordia Univeristy study shows viewing erotic stimuli is associated with enhanced male sexual responsiveness.

In a study published earlier this year in the peer-reviewed journal Sexual Medicine, Drs. Nicole Praus of UCLA and Jim Pfaus of Concordia University (Montreal) have concluded in a study of roughly 280 normal (i.e., non-hypersexual) adult males that watching visual sexual stimulation (VSS) — or as it’s more commonly referred to, “porn” — for between one and two hours per week increased the participants’ desire for sex, both with a partner and solo, by about 30 percent.

“Those who reported viewing more VSS in their own life reported higher sexual arousal to films in the laboratory,” Prause and Pfaus reported in the study Viewing Sexual Stimuli Associated with Greater Sexual Responsiveness, Not Erectile Dysfunction, reports AVN.

“Self-reported erectile functioning with a partner was not related to the hours of VSS viewed weekly. Finally, those who viewed VSS more also reported higher desire for both partnered sexual behaviors and solo sexual behaviors.

This pattern suggests that those who view more VSS likely have a higher sexual drive and experience a stronger sexual response to standardized VSS than those who view less VSS. Sexual arousal responsivity may not be impaired by viewing more VSS at home, as it actually was related to stronger desire and sexual arousal in two of the three relationships tested.”

The authors wanted to study the claim that increased porn viewing led to erectile dysfunction, as had been found by other researchers studying men who self-identified as “porn addicts” or as “hypersexual.” For this study, the authors looked for volunteers who were enrolled in psychology courses in Pocatello, Idaho and Albuquerque, New Mexico, as well as some who were solicited by flyers for the study which were distributed in the target communities.

Jillian Janson DVD cover for Brothers & Sisters 3.
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Jillian Janson teases on the seductive box cover for Brothers & Sisters 3.

The test subjects, all of whom were first questioned about the usual sexual activity and porn viewing habits, were left alone in rooms with computers which were programmed to display video recordings of sexually explicit activity lasting anywhere from 20 seconds to three minutes’ duration, with so-called “neutral,” non-sexual films in-between so that the arousal generated by any one film would have a chance to subside before the next sexy film was shown.

According to one of the charts showing results of the study, the men’s desire for sex with a partner went from 40 on the Sexual Desire Scale for those who watched no porn at all, to 53 for those who watched between six minutes and two hour of porn per week, while the desire to masturbate rose from 7 to 11. However, watching more than two hours per week seemed to decrease partner-desired sex by a couple of points, though the desire to masturbate rose by about 3 points.

One might ask why it’s taken this long to discover porn’s effect on the sexual desire of the average male, and Prause and Pfaus have a tentative answer: “[I]t may be the case that VSS viewing promotes both positive and negative feelings and outcomes. Many studies simply do not ask about positive effects, which may contribute to poor identification of the possible benefits of VSS use… The positive relationships between VSS viewing and many indices of sexual responsiveness suggest that VSS viewing might even improve erectile functioning.”

The Prause/Pfaus study should put the nail in the coffin of the dysfunctional views of such so-called experts like Dr. Gail Dines, who said in a recent interview, “What I’ve found with my interviews with men is the more they watch, the more they want porn sex, because they become habituated to that kind of industrial-strength sex. Once you become habituated to that, anything else looks boring or uninteresting. What I find is that some men lose interest in their partners altogether and use more pornography. Other men nag and cajole their girlfriends to perform porn sex, or they use prostitutes because that’s who they think they can play this porn sex out on.”

And while Dines has claimed that porn has become more and more violent over the past few years, which had led to men being turned off to ordinary sex, the Prause/Pfaus study came to the opposite conclusion.

“Many clinicians claim that watching erotica makes men unable to respond sexually to ‘normal’ sexual situations with a partner,” Prause stated in a press release regarding the study. “That was not the case in our sample.”

And it’s not just watching porn, but watching more porn that has the added benefit.

“When we analyzed the data from these prior studies, we found that the men who had watched more sex films at home were more aroused when they watched sex films in the lab,” Prause stated. “While one could object that this was expected since they like sex films, the result is important because clinicians often claim that men get desensitized by watching these films.

“They are responding more strongly to very vanilla erotica than the guys for whom the films are more novel,” she added. “While this association doesn’t establish a cause, it proves viewing erotica at home is not desensitizing and perhaps even sensitized the men to respond more strongly.”

The full Prause/Pfaus study can be found here.


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