Politics & Government

KU expert questions state resolution linking porn to erectile dysfunction

The Kansas House voted this week to pass a resolution condemning pornography that said “Pornography has contributed to a rise in the occurrence of erectile dysfunction in young men.”
The Kansas House voted this week to pass a resolution condemning pornography that said “Pornography has contributed to a rise in the occurrence of erectile dysfunction in young men.” Getty Images

Despite the overwhelming consensus of the Kansas House, there is scant medical evidence linking pornography and erectile dysfunction, according to a University of Kansas doctor who has treated thousands of ED patients.

Joshua Broghammer, a physician, urogenital surgeon and KU Medical School associate professor, said most medical research and his own practice experience show no solid link between porn and ED.

“I’ve been here at KU for 8 1/2 years and I have not seen a case of porn-induced erectile dysfunction,” said Broghammer. “I don’t believe there’s much relation between pornography and erectile dysfunction. I have not seen someone where that has been a true statement.”

That puts him at odds with 123 of 124 members of the Kansas House who voted this week to pass a resolution condemning pornography that included the language: “WHEREAS, Pornography has contributed to a rise in the occurrence of erectile dysfunction in young men.”

Broghammer said there has been some medical research into porn and ED.

“The idea is that there are men who are constantly sexually stimulated because they’re viewing porn and things like that all the time,” he said. “It’s mostly associated with masturbation, not porn use itself. The idea is that they’re so desensitized that they have issues with erections and things like that. … The data is actually pretty weak on that.”

He said the broad majority of ED cases among young men involve physical conditions such as diabetes, clogged arteries and smoking.

He cited a study by researchers at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, that asked the question “Is Pornography Use Associated with Sexual Difficulties and Dysfunctions among Younger Heterosexual Men?”

The study’s conclusion: “We found little evidence of the association between pornography use and male sexual health disturbances. Contrary to raising public concerns, pornography does not seem to be a significant risk factor for younger men’s desire, erectile, or orgasmic difficulties.”

The chief proponents of the Statehouse resolution, Reps. Chuck Weber, R-Wichita, and Randy Powell, R-Olathe, backed up their claim with several magazine articles and a study co-authored by Navy physicians in San Diego and a researcher from the Reward Foundation, a British anti-pornography group.

That study, “Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports,” concluded that “Clinical reports suggest that terminating Internet pornography use is sometimes sufficient to reverse negative effects, underscoring the need for extensive investigation using methodologies that have subjects remove the variable of Internet pornography use.”

Powell, a financial adviser, former missionary and church lay leader, said he had heard complaints of ED problems while acting as a facilitator for support groups for men with pornography addiction. “That would be my anecdotes,” he said.

Neither Powell nor Weber was able to identify the original authorship of the resolution, which attributes a number of other criminal, behavioral and relational issues to pornography.

The language is similar to resolutions passed earlier in Utah, South Dakota, Arkansas and Virginia. However, none of those states mention erectile dysfunction among negative impacts of pornography.

The legislators said they weren’t sure how or why ED was included in the Kansas resolution. Weber said he supported it because he is more concerned about other issues, such as prostitution and sex trafficking, that are linked to the manufacturing of pornography.

The resolution is not a law and not binding. But it does encourage local government to work toward reducing pornography at the community level.

Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, was the only member of the House to vote “no” on the resolution. Carmichael, an attorney, said he opposed it primarily on First Amendment grounds.

But, he said, “It comes as no surprise to this representative” that the ED section of the resolution “has little, if any validity.”

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas

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