Does Masturbation Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Some people believe that masturbation can cause erectile dysfunction. It’s important not to fall for false rumors, as this is a myth.

a man depressed by his erectile dysfunction that might be caused by masturbation

Masturbation does not cause erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is defined as a man having difficulty achieving an erection; or not being able to maintain an erection long enough to have sex. This is a common condition. Most men struggle to get or maintain an erection at least once in their lives. But this is not the same as having full-blown ED.

While masturbation is not a cause of erectile dysfunction, Is there any truth to the idea that it can lead to temporary erection problems? In this article, we’ll take a look at the science behind this debate.

Key Takeaways

  • Masturbation does not cause erectile dysfunction
  • Erectile dysfunction can have physical or psychological causes
  • Many cases of erectile dysfunction are treatable
  • Masturbation is a normal and healthy activity
  • Excessive masturbation with porn might contribute to psychological erectile dysfunction

Masturbation is normal, natural, harmless, and in fact, healthy. It’s also incredibly common. One survey found that 94% of men admit to masturbating regularly.

Masturbation actually has some significant health benefits. Orgasms, in general can help improve mood, reduce stress, release sexual tension and improve self-esteem. Masturbation also leads to a burst of feel-good chemicals called endorphins, and this can help lower your risk of depression.

Scientific research has also shown that masturbation may help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. Another study showed that masturbation helps to keep the immune system healthy. Finally, masturbating can help you become a better sexual partner, as it allows you to develop a greater awareness of your own sexual responses.

So, given all of the benefits associated with masturbation, how is it that some people still believe it can lead to erectile dysfunction?

After orgasm, men experience what is known as a “refractory period.” The refractory period is the time after ejaculation in which an erection is not physiologically possible. However, this is not the same as having ED: everyone experiences a refractory period after sex. If you want to learn more about healthy masturbation habits, have a look at this article.

Does masturbating to porn lead to erectile dysfunction?

In short, scientists are not yet entirely sure whether porn use can cause erectile dysfunction. This is a hotly contested topic on which research and opinions are conflicted. Some researchers believe that porn use desensitizes a person to sexual contact. This makes it less likely that they’ll become aroused and get an erection.

In 2015 a study was published that suggested a possible link between the two. However, porn-induced erectile dysfunction has not been recognized as a true disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s bible of psychological conditions: the DSM 5.

In many cases, the true cause of ED is not necessarily porn use but performance anxiety. Men who watch a lot of porn often start to develop unrealistic expectations of their body, penis size, and sexual abilities. These sorts of ideas can trigger performance anxiety. Anxiety hijacks the brain-body systems that help make an erection possible.

Do you want to learn more about porn-induced erectile dysfunction? If so, you can read this article we wrote on the topic.

What does cause erectile dysfunction?

Age is the single most important factor in predicting physical erectile dysfunction. All research suggests that the older you are, the more likely you are to have ED. Therefore, if you are physically healthy and under 40 years of age but still experiencing erectile difficulties, your problem is most likely psychological.

a chart that shows the prevalence of erectile dysfunction by age

Here are some of the psychological factors that can cause ED:

a chart that lists the psychological causes of erectile dysfunction

What are some other ways to tell whether your ED is psychological? Can you still get an erection while masturbating or spontaneously when you wake up in the morning? This tells you that the mechanism necessary for getting an erection is still working. It suggests that when you do experience ED, it’s due to psychological factors.

To learn more about psychological erectile dysfunction and how to treat it, read this comprehensive article we wrote on the topic.

When to see a doctor

It’s important to see a doctor for physical erectile dysfunction. Why? ED can serve as an early warning sign for more serious medical conditions, such as diabetes or coronary artery disease.

If you are overweight, over the age of 40, or suffering from conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, or diabetes, it’s important to see a doctor for a check-up if ED is present.

On the other hand, psychological erectile dysfunction is not medically dangerous. But it can lead to psychological issues and relationship problems. If your mental health or relationship is suffering, speaking to a doctor can help you better understand and treat your ED.

Treat ED by understanding the real causes

There are many myths about masturbation, including the idea that it can cause hair to grow on one’s hands or lead a person to become blind! But what about the idea that masturbation can cause erectile dysfunction? This is yet another myth.

Masturbation does not lead to ED, and in fact masturbating is associated with a whole host of health benefits, which we have discussed above. If you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction, it’s important to understand the real causes in order to get the right treatment. This article has covered everything you need to know to treat the condition and regain control.

About Daniel Sher, MA

Clinical Psychologist and Sex Therapy Expert

Daniel is a registered clinical psychologist and a sex therapy expert practicing in Cape Town, South Africa. He is the creator of the Between Us Clinic’s Performance Anxiety Program, an online mindfulness meditation program for erectile dysfunction.

He gained his master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2014. A component of his training and practice involves working in the context of sexual and sex-related issues.

Daniel also treats patients at his clinic for male sexual dysfunctions including, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction and sexual performance anxiety.