Doctors Speak Out: Is Online Pornography Cause for Alarm?

Sandra Levy

Disclosures

September 26, 2017

In This Article

Should Physicians Address Pornography With Patients?

Physicians need to address the topic of pornography with patients, said an ob/gyn, noting:

Pornography and social media are an epidemic and a medical issue. I firmly believe that we as physicians need to make this a part of our mission to address this not only with our adult patients, but also with our adolescent patients and their parents. This should be part of the "social" questions in our medical history, because it can directly impact the health and well-being of our patients and their children....

The Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology (CREOG) has established a work group to deal with sexual health education in ob/gyn residency education, and it has become very apparent to us that there is much work to be done. Having these open forums and communications is a first start. I have no conflicts or financial disclosures. I am the current chair of CREOG.

A nurse practitioner said: "I think anything done in excess can be destructive, but am libertarian in my views of what an adult does. I would like better filters for stopping porn viewing among children. There isn't a child age 10 who has a phone and has not looked at porn. And this isn't the Playboy shots of 1960, but some vile, repulsive images. It is corrupting of our children and our patients, and society seems very unconcerned."

This ob/gyn blamed the advertising industry for some people's obsession with sex, saying:

I agree that there are varying degrees of vulnerability to porn. "Porn" can be unhealthy in many ways as mentioned, such as sexual or partner unhappiness owing to heightened and unrequited expectations, to seeking satisfaction elsewhere that may be more prone to disease risk, etc.

But I also believe that porn is not the only culprit to what many see as destructive. I believe that media and the advertising industry, despite all the protests of women's advocates, continue to use sexual images to sell products. Perhaps if we could advertise without all the sexual [images] (and in most cases, I simply mean a sexy-looking woman promoting a product), perhaps we would help to subdue the minds of many men and women who have sex on their brains for the majority of the day—media being partly responsible."

Calls for More Research, Treatments

Should there be more research and treatments for pornography addiction? Yes, said an internist. "Perhaps pornography does have medical implications: Too much eating, too much drinking alcohol, too much physical activity beyond physical capacity are all of medical clinical importance, and so perhaps is overdoing pornography. Perhaps too much time spent with pornography is a symptom that might benefit from clinical investigation and treatment."

Finally, a family physician touched upon the pros and cons of pornography, noting:

There is as wide a range of sexually explicit presentations in the sexual literature and "pornography" as there are human sexual responses. Some are kind and caring/giving, even sweet and loving. Others are abusive by either sex of the other, and this is different from dominant/submissive, though the difference is sometimes elusive. It is my guess that the erotic component of either derives from childhood exposure to such an expression of eroticism, [which makes] a strong recommendation for teaching "good sex" in school, not mere "sex education." There are certainly adult sexual relationships in which a giving partner has as much pleasure derived from their partner's pleasure as the pleasure derived from their own erotic response.

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