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Quick nut: Has unfettered access to free internet porn killed men’s sexual stamina? Experts say it could play a part

Experts have concerns over the ways it's impacting men.

 

Andy Jones

Pleaser

Posted on Oct 29, 2022   Updated on Nov 4, 2022, 2:16 pm CDT

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Porn newbies John and Annie Campbell are, on the surface, unlikely heroes in changing how the world consumes pornography.

John, who is 77 years old and a father of six adult children, and his wife Dr. Annie Campbell, a 75-year-old neuroscientist, are sex therapists who swear by couples having hours of slow sex every week together. Now they’re making their adult film debut, having sex on a king-size bed under microphones and lights, in view of more than a dozen production staffers.

They want to show the world’s pornography fans, particularly young men, that sex doesn’t have to be like it’s typically seen on-screen.

“Porn is all up here,” John says pointing to his head. “Porn is all about the visual and how it looks, but not how it feels.”

Pornography is almost always goal driven, focusing on getting off and penetration, which Campbell says creates a belief for men that sex should be rushed and fast rather than long and lingering. “Instead of learning to play with themselves or their partner and experience what feels good to them, young men disappear into the internet. Enjoying sex then becomes a mental thing—about what you can see—rather than a pleasure thing.”

The Campbells don’t preach from an “anti-pornography” position, nor does anyone else quoted in this piece, even though many of their patients are reportedly young men impacted by watching too much porn. Their belief is that pornography consumers are changing sex from a sensory, feeling experience into a visual one, where the mind is excited only by what we see. In this framework, pornography is showing us sex is something done to others rather than being experienced by oneself.

Pornhub, the biggest adult site in the world with billions of views per year, reveals the typical user of their site spends 9 minutes and 20 seconds in each browsing session, scrolling through an average of nine pages to get their fix. While having a quick orgasm isn’t inherently a bad thing, when racing to orgasm becomes a habit, it tricks the mind into believing sexual gratification is achieved only through fast, rushed sex, says Campbell.

Interestingly enough, according to Pornhub’s own data, those who preferred viewing more hardcore pornography were shown to browse for less time on the site than the average, suggesting those who watched it raced more quickly to their orgasm than those who watched more vanilla sex. According to the data, professed fans of videos containing double penetration spent 89 seconds less than the average on the site. Similarly, those who searched for rough sex lasted 65 seconds less than average, and users who searched for gangbangs finished 58 seconds less than average. 

The quick fix vs. true satisfaction

Academics have long been criticizing our porn habits, suggesting it can turn you off from real sex and stop you from completing basic mental tasks. Some researchers even attribute pornography to getting young men hooked on Viagra.

This is because the fast, risky, or taboo sex that porn provides triggers similar responses in the brain as addictive behaviors, says Annie. “That area of the brain is about the three Fs—flight, fright, fuck. This is based around releasing adrenaline in response to risk—and so you need more and more to get that same rush or it doesn’t work.”

Erika Lust is a multi-award-winning adult film director and creator of XConfessions adult film site and, naturally, loves watching people have sex. She began her own porn consumption in the ’70s with magazines, photographs, video cassettes, and later DVDs, but in her eyes, these mediums were tame compared to tube sites, today’s free porn sites which offer millions of videos on demand. Lust believes many users are sleepwalking (sleep wanking?) into damaging their future sexual behaviors.

She says, “They are not after a mindful, erotic experience they are going on these sites,” says Lust. “They are opening window after window, chasing impact after impact and they do it almost just to feel something. Like eating junk food—it doesn’t fill you up or satisfy you, you enjoyed it only for the moment you tasted it. It leaves you miserable afterward.”

Paula Hall is a sex addiction psychotherapist from the Laurel Centre, based in the U.K. Hall saw a spike in porn and sex addiction during the initial coronavirus lockdown in 2020. She has helped young men who can’t have sex with real partners after a long-term diet of pornography. These men reportedly find real sex disappointing, so much so that the feel, sound, and even smell of real-life sex is off-putting. “They get so used to the constant stimuli of novelty that they no longer experience the same arousal from a partner,” she says.

However, Hall is keen to point out this is the impact on “addicts” as opposed to the casual porn consumer: “Certainly addicts would say that it has affected sex with their partners. But a lot of non-addicts would say it’s not had any impact because the kind of sex they have with a partner is completely different. You could argue that people turn to porn when they want a quick fix, or when they only have 9 and a half minutes, but turn to partners when they want something more indulgent.” 

While the DSM-5 doesn’t currently recognize pornography addiction, it does recognize compulsive sexual behavior, and the two may overlap. Likewise, Lust accepts many porn users are able to enjoy it for what it is without it impacting their lives. But, in the absence of comprehensive sex education and many couples failing to openly communicate about their sexual habits and preferences, hardcore, penetration-focused pornography can alter expectations of real sex.

“I like watching people having a sexual encounter together, where somehow I can understand why they are attracted to each other and how I can become attracted to them,” says Lust. “But much online porn is dominated by language of sluts and whores and bitches; of banging, railing, smashing, choking, fucking, or ‘Tiny teen gets destroyed.’”

‘There’s nothing wrong with struggling to get an erection

John Campbell says that when you watch porn, no one suffers performance anxiety, you see no open discussion about their sexual preferences or stops for a rest. In real life, such things happen. It happens on set too, it just gets edited out. He says, when filming, he couldn’t get erect. He says, “My penis rebelled, it saw the cameras and said, ‘Fuck this, I don’t want to be here!'” 

John also reveals he’s not immune to body hang-ups, he says he has a “slightly bent penis,” which drove him to drink for many years. “A doctor years ago recommended I just have a stiff drink before sex to calm my nerves. Then, for however many decades, I never had sex sober and it made me unhappy,” he says.

While different from alcohol, John says that many young men are similarly dulling their sexual pleasure by watching porn and are missing out on so much of the experience. “With sexual pleasure, you don’t have to race to get an erection, you don’t have to even enter the vagina. Just feel.” 

Young men who approach the Campbells for guidance on their platform Innocent Sex describe being addicted to rapid masturbation and increasingly provocative videos. A cycle that leaves them depressed and, until they reduce their consumption, unable to function in relationships. 

To counter this cycle of self-satisfaction, the Campbells suggest making love, slowing down sex, or masturbation, because these activities release greater amounts of oxytocin, says Annie. “You’re triggering your oxytocin and bonding chemicals. If you make love this way, it will always feel new and exciting, and you won’t constantly chase porn or necessarily demand constant new partners. People who demand fast sex get bored quickly, but if you get into slow, nurturing touch, sex gets better rather than tailing off.”

Both Lust and the Campbell’s believe a new sexual revolution happening online where people are looking more inwardly about how sex makes them feel, both in terms of touch and mentality. “In the same way we are examining how our food is produced and how our clothes are made, many people are thinking, ‘Can we do sex better too?’” says Lust. “Is porn and just ‘getting off’ really what I want or can it be something deeper and more exciting than what I see on-screen?”

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*First Published: Oct 29, 2022, 4:31 pm CDT