Watching online porn kills your sex drive?
Researchers say that the Internet makes people much more vulnerable to sex addictions because it gives them instant access to pornographic material. A growing number of young, healthy Internet pornography users are complaining of delayed ejaculation, inability to be turned on by real partners, and sluggish erections. The cause appears to be physiological, not psychological, given that such diverse men change only one variable (porn use), yet report a similar recovery pattern. For these men, anxiety is secondary. Recent behavioral addiction research suggests that the loss of libido and performance occur because heavy users are numbing their brain’s normal response to pleasure. Years of overriding the natural limits of libido with intense stimulation desensitize the user’s response to a neurochemical called dopamine. Dopamine is behind motivation, “wanting” and all addictions. It drives the search for rewards. We get little spurts of it every time we bump into anything potentially rewarding, novel, surprising, or even anxiety-producing.
Animal models have established that both sexual desire and erections arise from dopamine signals. Normally, dopamine-producing nerve cells in the reward circuitry activate the sexual (libido) centers of the hypothalamus, which in turn activate the erection centers in the spinal cord, which send nerve impulses to the genitalia. A steady stream of nerve impulses, which release nitric oxide into the penis and its blood vessels, maintain an erection.