What is Porn-Induced Impotence in Women?
A majority of female porn-users report feeling conflicted about using the “outside-in supernormal stimulus” of pornography. In addition to the human rights violations common in mainstream porn production, women’s sexual functioning can be damaged when conditioned in this way. I call this “Porn-Induced Impotence in Women.” Read on for more info and a list of symptoms.
What is Porn-Induced Impotence in Women (PIIW)?
By Staci Sprout, LICSW, CSAT
May 31, 2018
The world is starting to wake up to the fact that men can suffer sexual dysfunctions as a result of pornography use. The best known problematic symptom for men is called Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction, or PIED, but the most common porn-induced sexual dysfunction reported in male case studies thus far is difficulty climaxing during partnered sex, also called delayed ejaculation. One startling peer-reviewed study on PIED reported
…that sexual difficulties appear to be increasing sharply among young men (under 40) in recent years. For example, 15 years ago erectile dysfunction rates were negligible (2-5%) in sexually active men under 40. Now, researchers are reporting rates as high as 30% in this same age group. Many of these men are able to attain erections and ejaculate when viewing porn, but experience sexual dysfunctions (difficulty climaxing, low sexual desire, sexual dissatisfaction, ED) during partnered sex.
The rapid increase in sexual dysfunctions in men under 40 cannot be adequately explained by smoking, diabetes, obesity, or cardiovascular disease, factors commonly associated with such problems in older men. These factors have not increased proportionately. However, a major change in men's sexual environment has been the advent of streaming porn at the end of 2006. (1)
A generation of young men – mostly under 40 – are beginning to recognize the connection between their sexual problems and their porn use, and they are talking openly about it. Thousands of peer-support online forums have sprung up to help them take a break from porn and/or masturbation. Some of the most well-known are YourBrainOnPorn, Reboot Nation, RedditNoFap, and Your Brain Rebalanced. These and many YouTube stories of painful withdrawal the young men experience when they quit watching porn are striking in their similarities – as are their accounts of return to healthier sexual functioning without porn.
But what about women? Do women use porn? In a word: yes. A 2015 study by Marie Claire, which surveyed 3,000 women, discovered that 1 in 3 women watch porn every week, while 1 in 10 watches it every day. But 53% of those who do feel conflicted about it.
WHAT WERE THEIR CONCERNS?
- I'm concerned about how the industry treats women and/or I feel it perpetuates negative stereotypes
- It's something secretive I don't want anyone to know about
- Men seem to conflate porn with real-life sex
- I'm embarrassed and feel ashamed afterward
- I don't feel like I should "need" it
- I just watch to please my partner(s)
Everyone agrees that porn use is on the rise for women – whether it’s anti-porn researchers or statistics published by the porn industry itself. Accessibility is a key part of this: women can see more nudity in five minutes than their grandmothers could see in a lifetime!
A study in the 2017 book Cheap Sex, by Mark Rengerus, showed that 18 – 29-year-old women were six times as likely to have viewed porn than the oldest women in the study, and far more likely to masturbate while viewing. But the kind of porn many women use is different than men. According to some studies, men prefer watching visually sexually explicit media, like pictures and movies, while many women prefer engaging in interactive erotica such as chat rooms, social media sites featuring explicit material, and webcams. The fan-fiction sites that are in the top five sites visited by women contain stories, often of a romantic and sexual nature, between fictional characters (from television, movies, novels, and so on) and include both heterosexual and homosexual tales. The other sites women frequent tend to be traditional romance novel sites. (3) Still other women favor non-relational porn, the kind more often viewed by men. But regardless of type used, all this sexually explicit media can have harmful effects on women’s sexual development.
As a sex addiction specialty psychotherapist, I’ve been working with women since 2006 to support them in dealing with extreme problems with relationships, sexuality and pornography. I’ve also researched hundreds of additional case studies, mostly from women under age 30 describing the negative effects related to their porn use. Analyzing the results of my clinical experience and research, combined with my own experience and common sense, I have concluded that women who use various forms pornography are suffering from symptoms of what I have come to call Porn-Induced Impotence in Women (PIIW).
PIIW can occur for women with problematic porn use that hasn’t reached the severity of addiction. It can cause harm to women’s emotional and sexual development and relationships. It is the feminine correlate to Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunctions in men.
Porn Induced Impotence in Women (PIIW) includes the following 20 symptoms:
1. Loss of attraction to real partners or attempting to find a partner – choosing porn instead and staying isolated.
2. Inability to enjoy partnered (or even solo) sex without pornography – conditioned sexual response to porn, so that in-person sex becomes boring.
3. Escalation to using more disturbing, violent pornography that is outside your value system.
4. Desensitization – seeking more and more stimulation, more extreme input, and constant novelty.
5. Loss of genital sensitivity during partnered or solo sex – less feeling, less pleasure – more a “mental push” or fantasy, rather than a recharging connection in real-time. May be influenced by vibrator or other sex toy overuse.
6. “Premature Orgasm” – having fast orgasms that feel premature – while physical excitation is low and quality of orgasm is mediocre; you feel a physical release that doesn’t feel great – more a partial reflexive orgasm than whole body pleasure.
7. Anorgasmia, or the persistent inability to achieve orgasm despite responding to sexual stimulation, either alone or during partnered sex.
8. Feeling a sense of insecurity and competition with women viewed in porn, and constantly comparing yourself to all other women, searching for superiority or feeling less than.
9. Changing your appearance to move toward the unrealistic standards of porn (e.g., labial surgery, breast surgery, anal bleaching, waxing, etc.). See “Uncovering the Trend of Porn-Inspired Plastic Surgery for Teen Girls” article: https://fightthenewdrug.org/growing-trend-of-porn-inspired-plastic-surgery-for-teens/
10. Dependence on porn use to relax, get to sleep every night, get up in the morning, and deal with stress.
11. Over-focus on genital arousal, and losing the urge for non-erotic touch, cuddling and closeness.
12. Absorbing extreme/non-authentic fantasies from the outside in, based on porn, and then looking for this in real life.
13. Flashbacks of porn images during sex that intrude on your ability to be present to a partner.
14. Inability to be present mentally, concentrate or focus in everyday life due to fantasies from porn.
15. Seeing men and/or other women in life as sex objects (like porn images); not enjoying their real beauty and complexity as individuals.
16. Binge use of porn that interferes with natural life, time, relationships, social life, school/work.
17. Irritability when you can’t get porn or feel separated from your “source” of porn.
18. Feeling pressured by porn to try sexual behaviors that are uncomfortable, against your values, or injurious – or pressured by porn-influenced male or female partners.
19. Acting fake; pretending to be like a porn performer during sex as opposed to being yourself.
20. Feeling shame yet continuing to use porn or practicing porn-influenced sexual behaviors.
If you’re experiencing these painful symptoms, stop using porn and see if you feel better! If you need more support, check out these resources that have helped many other women:
Porn Problems: Here Come the Women on YourBrainOnPorn
YourBrainOnPorn – Research on Porn and Females
Reddit/NoFap for Women:
The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction 12 Question Screening Test
Christian Women and Porn Addiction Support: Dirty Girls Ministries
Covenant Eyes: Resources for Women Who Struggle with Porn
If you try to stop using pornography and you cannot, and fear you have developed a porn addiction, here is my definition:
Porn addiction is a neuro-biological-social-learning process with a toxic experience that, when engaged, offers distraction, pleasure, and/or pain relief for the addict. Addiction can be looked at as a four-part cycle that typically starts with thoughts/obsessions, ramp-up or ritual actions, the addictive act itself, and the aftermath, which may be shame, regret, swearing off the behavior, or right back to anxiety and cravings for more.
However, it comes with costs, primarily:
• loss of control over the porn use,
• repeated failed attempts to stop using porn, or modify one’s use
• Development of tolerance: diminishing positive returns, which can lead to escalation of what kind of porn you use or the extent of time you use it, or risk, and
• negative life consequences brought on by the porn use, including:
• Personal distress
• Relationship problems with significant others
• Problems with family or friends distress
• Problems with your job, school, or other areas
• Health risks as a result of porn use, like loss of healthy emotional and sexual functioning – we see this a lot with porn causing sexual and emotional desensitization; self-harm or engaging abusive relationships that involve coercion, rape or other violence; and the threat of disease transmission
• Increased feelings of loneliness
Other considerations for addiction include:
· Secrecy – do you live a double life with porn which leaves you feeling isolated and alone?
· Do you compromise of your values – by doing things that go against what you know is right for you, but can’t stop?
· Do you feel shame about what you’re doing, which leads to hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, or attempts?
Resources treatment for porn addiction in women can be found at:
or find a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist in your area by searching at https://www.iitap.com/therapists-search/
You might find these videos of women finding success in recovery from their sex, love and porn addiction problems helpful:
“Female Faces of Sex Addiction Recovery” on Sex Addiction in the News YouTube show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIOb0fXUIg4&t=374s
Women's Sex and Love Addiction Recovery with Lacy Alajna Bentley 5.25.18:
Porn problems are very normal for women. Some reach the level of porn addiction. Some research reports that as many as 17 per cent of women describe themselves as "addicted" to online porn. (3) Other research shows it is much higher! But even suffering from porn addiction does not have to be life sentence. If you are having any symptoms of Porn-Induced Impotence in Women and/or pornography addiction, you are not the only one. Please reach out for help now. Help is available!
(1) Team of US Navy doctors suggests internet pornography may be fueling rise in sexual dysfunctions
(2) Bold text source unknown – trying to find original author!
(3) Sex: Women ‘just as easily hooked on online porn as men.’