Sunday Mail Lost generation to porn

Porn: The Hidden Epidemic

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What links the rise in the past decade in NHS prescriptions for erectile dysfunction to younger and younger men and the number of registered sex offenders? The Reward Foundation believes the research from a range of sources points to compulsive use of internet pornography as the common denominator. It’s time to join the dots.

The Health Issue

The Scottish Sunday Mail covered the story on 20th August 2017 quoting our CEO Mary Sharpe. In the article, psychosexual therapist Pauline Brown confirmed our findings. She said “I would never see patients with erectile problems under the age of 45 when I was working 25 years ago. Now it’s quite common for young men, even as young as 19 to be seeking help”.

NHS prescriptions for the problem have soared nearly 500% over two decades from 67,515 in 2000-1 to 324,953 in 2015-16. According to the academic literature there has been a 1,000% rise in the past decade alone of men under 40 years of age seeking treatment for sexual dysfunctions.

It can take as long as 9-12 months for a man with erectile problems to get a referral from a GP to a sexual health clinic. He’ll usually be prescribed with Viagra or the like in the meantime. This has little effect as the problem is not with blood supply to the genitals that Viagra is designed to regulate, but rather with the nerve signaling from the brain to the genitals which Viagra doesn’t cure.

Many men on porn recovery websites have complained that too few doctors are aware that chronic overuse of internet pornography can cause sexual dysfunction in young men. Doctors shy away from asking such personal questions and look to treat symptoms with pills or in extreme cases with penile insertion surgery to restore function.

The Criminal Potential

You may think that this is the man’s problem alone but it has major implications for others too. For many men, the loss of their “mojo” is their biggest fear. Many find that after years of bingeing in private they need increasingly more shocking porn videos to get their dopamine pumping sufficiently to stimulate arousal. See this presentation at yourbrainonporn.com to understand why. Apart from the desire to act out the violence they see and cause havoc within relationships, it also leads increasing numbers to watch child abuse imagery just to get an erection.

Production and possession of child abuse imagery is illegal. As increasing numbers of men succumb to porn-induced erectile dysfunction, their demand for child abuse imagery is driving the market to supply more. The legal authorities are getting better at catching users of the dark web where much of this material resides. They are closing in.

Two years ago, CEOP (Child Exploitation & Online Protection) stated publicly that there were around 50,000 known users of child abuse material in the UK. That figure was revised to 100,000 earlier this year. However child protection charities estimate that the real figure is now closer to 500,000 users of this illegal material in the UK. That is half a million men (mainly) in a population of 64 million. Removing young children, old people and most women from that figure, it means a heck of a lot of men are accessing this material. And it’s on an upward trajectory.

So it’s not only children who are being harmed through exploitation to feed the growing porn addiction epidemic, but also the families of those men and women who are caught with it too. The whole family is tarred with the same brush. One sex offender told us that his innocent wife was shunned by her extended family, no longer invited to family events because, they said, she “should have known” what her husband was getting up to in private.

This is a worsening social health crisis and criminality issue. We need more healthcare providers to be aware of the deeper problems and signpost appropriate roads to recovery. Understanding neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt to changing experience, means that most people can recover if they quit using porn. It’s time to start raising awareness now. Porn addicts need help now.

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