In a post-Gamergate world, playing video games often comes with a bad connotation. There are, of course, plenty of men (and women!) who innocuously pretend to fight inter-galactic wars in their apartments, though gaming has become fused with a virulent anti-feminism and online trolling in certain circles. Much has been said about the impact of gaming culture on the politics on young men—but could gaming also have an effect on their sex lives?
A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine has looked at the link between video games and sexual health in adult men. On one hand, the study's results seem fairly favorable for the gamer population: After surveying 396 Italian men, the researchers found that those who played video games were less likely to report suffering from premature ejaculation than non-gamers.
But the study also found that gamers report having lower sexual desire. One reason this could occur is because video games are often stressful to play. "It can be assumed that 'video game stress' might lead to hyperprolactinemia, possibly resulting in loss of sex drive," the researchers write.
Both findings, notably, could be related. The researchers explain that video games supply a steady stream of dopamine, "the pleasure hormone" that is involved in stimulating an orgasm, to the player, and therefore gamers see a decreased receptor response. "This might cause tolerance in the ejaculatory reflex and a decreased interest in intercourse," the authors write.
Ultimately, the study's design can't determine what causes lower levels of premature ejaculation and sexual desire, and more research is needed to determine if video games are harmful to men's sexual health."Given that I have been an avid gamer all of my life, I surely hope otherwise!" the study's lead author, Andrea Sansone, told Broadly.
"I think that video games might be similar to physical exercise in these regards: occasional use might have beneficial effects, but when some threshold between 'occasional use' and 'chronic abuse' is crossed, ill effects might occur," he continued. "We are just scratching the surface of this new field of research: I hope that sooner or later we will be able to produce more solid results. In the meantime, I'll keep playing!"