Is pornography causing a drop in testosterone levels?

Science and Health

Testosterone levels are dropping in young men – and it seems that intense pornography viewing is the cause. The male hormone is responsible, among other things, for facial and chest hair growth, muscle mass increase, bone density, sperm production and sex drive.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, low testosterone affects about 2% of men, with symptoms ranging from depression, body hair loss and decreased libido to fertility problems and low sperm count.

According to information published in The Sun, testosterone levels in young men decrease due to excessive pornography and/or gaming. A 2017 study found that men who played video games release dopamine, the same “pleasure hormone” released during orgasms, which could contribute to a lack of desire/need for intimacy. 

Playing video games is enjoyable, but it can also be stressful, which may lead to an increase in prolactin hormone and a decrease in testosterone. High prolactin levels in men can cause impotence.

Similarly, continuous exposure to pornography can also contribute to decreased sexual desire, although there is still no consensus on this issue. A 2016 study found that “chronic internet pornography use led to erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation.” However, some experts have found that watching videos doesn’t necessarily decrease testosterone levels but rather numbs sexual desire.

Banana sitting comfortably in a condom. (credit: CREATIVE COMMONS)

“Porn addiction can lead to desensitization to sexual stimuli, which can decrease arousal and lead to difficulties achieving and maintaining an erection,” clinical sexologist and psychotherapist Dr. Rob Weiss told the New York Post in May.

What can it also cause?

A number of young men have openly shared their sexual difficulties: they couldn’t achieve an erection with their partner after years of watching pornography. In fact, a 2020 study found a link between watching adult videos and the increased time it takes for a man to reach an orgasm with their partner.

According to The Sun, pornography and video games can also disrupt sleep patterns, which, in turn, can lower testosterone levels.

Diets can also affect testosterone levels – namely, bread, pastries, dairy products and sweets can be problematic. A 2018 study found that these foods, along with eating out, contribute to decreased testosterone levels and unhealthy body composition.

There are ways to increase testosterone levels and reap its benefits. Healthline recommends physical activity, weightlifting, stress reduction, increased vitamin D intake, good sleep, avoiding alcohol and a balanced diet rich in fats, proteins and carbohydrates.