One in four female porn stars suffer from sexual dysfunction and more than half of male performers rely on drugs to achieve an erection, a new study shows.
The findings from the University of Miami are the first to assess the sexual function of people in the adult entertainment industry.
Through interviews with 100 women, researchers found 25 percent of them struggled to orgasm, suffered pain during sex, or had diminished sex drive.
Speaking to 100 men, they found 69 percent used erectile aids and work, and 58 percent needed the pills to have sex at home, too – most of them aged under 29.
Lead author Justin Dubin says that while many of the men’s erectile dysfunction may be caused by their work, the women’s issues are more likely natural, medical issues that can afflict any woman – porn stars included.
He hopes his studies will push the industry to address this issue among performer, and crucially that they ease anxiety among the rest of the population, who often develop sexual disorders due to anxiety from comparing themselves to porn stars.
The findings from the University of Miami are the first to assess the sexual function of women in the adult entertainment industry
‘There has been a focus on the effects of porn on people who watch it, but no one has looked at the sexual function of the people who perform it,’ Dubin told DailyMail.com.
‘Why only focus on people who react to it?
‘In today’s society, the literature shows porn is seen as a picture of what sex should be like, and that this has increased stress in younger people. It’s something we need to be looking in to.’
Dubin, a urologist, is based in Miami, where ‘a decent amount of porn is produced,’ he explains. So, treating porn stars for erectile dysfunction is part of the job.
And porn is often a key topic of conversation with the rest of his patients with sexual dysfunction.
‘I often see patients who are young, healthy, on paper they shouldn’t have any sexual dysfunction, but they do. It’s performance anxiety. This false idea of how they need to perform based on what they watch.’
The issue is just as common in women, he warns, but more complicated and more taboo to discuss.
Dubin says he constantly counseled his patients, saying ‘you’re not the only one who suffers from this – people who do this professionally suffer, too’, but without data it was a hard sell.
He started contacting anyone in the industry to take part in a survey. He cold-called about 16 porn star managers (‘they all said no one wanted to talk to me’), and clinics where performers get tested bi-weekly, but the nurses felt it would violate the patients’ privacy.
Finally, he got in touch with the Free Speech Coalition, the advocacy group for performers in the industry.
The first study he conducted, which was presented earlier this year at the American Neurological Association, was on men, ranging in age from 28 to 45.
Just over a third of them had clinical erectile dysfunction. More than two thirds (69 percent) used erectile aids at work, and 58.1 percent used them for both work and personal reasons.
To his surprise, these pills – such as Viagra – were most common among young men aged 20–29 (84 percent of pill users).
The second, presented this week at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference, was done on women, which was trickier.
‘It’s so multi-factoral for women. It’s not as simple as it is for men. I don’t want to call men simple but we have a clear scale: are you able to get it up or not?
‘There are a lot more factors when it comes to female sexual dysfunction so it’s hard to pinpoint a specific thing when it comes to FSD.’
It’s also harder to get hold of women in the industry.
Women have a much shorter shelf-life in porn compared to men. After the age of 20, work starts to dry up. From the mid-20s, it is a tough career to stick with.
Dubin managed to get responses from 100 women, with an average age of 34, who, he says, ‘I would assume have been in this business for a while’.
He found 24 percent of them had female sexual dysfunction, which is defined as pain during sex, low sex drive, and difficulty climaxing.
He said he believes the vast majority of FSD cases, if not all, are not the result of their work. Those without FSD reported satisfying sex lives at home – whether they were straight, queer, bisexual, or other. On the other hand, those with dysfunction reported low satisfaction on all fronts.
Mike Stabile, communications director of the Free Speech Coalition, told DailyMail.com the study is a good start because ‘the industry depends on performers, and we know that healthier performers are better able to do their jobs’.
But more is needed to understand the driving factors, and the implications, for example of men in the industry taking Viagra.
A major stumbling block to building up more research is that performers are ‘wary’ of researchers, since they receive so many requests for interviews, often with ‘misguided notions about what the adult industry is’, or ‘with an agenda’.
Ultimately, he and Dubin say, when it comes to the general population, this study should help to reaffirm that it’s no use comparing yourself to professionals because ‘the general population doesn’t have nearly as much sex, nearly as often or for nearly that amount of time.’
Dubin adds: ‘To compare yourself to them is unfair to you, it’s unfair to them.
‘Once we come to an understanding about their work, what they do, and how it affects them, that understanding can help with perception, it can go a long way to address this increasing trend in sexual dysfunction in both sexes.’