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3 Surprising Effects of Pornography and Porn Addiction

effects of pornography and porn addiction

It’s no great secret how pervasive pornography is in today’s society.

Thanks to a few simple clicks on a computer or smartphone, a vast array of fictitious and fantastical images and video clips can be accessed by nearly anyone the world over. While watching porn here and there is hardly something to be ashamed of, as with anything else in our lives, practicing moderation is key.

But is watching porn bad for you? Are there side effects of pornography?

From a biological sense, consuming porn triggers the release of dopamine within our adrenal system—which means following that pleasurable high can ultimately lead to negative consequences physically, psychologically, and within our personal relationships.

To make matters more concerning, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the isolation and free-time that have resulted from shutdowns and economic changes may have led to more people than ever self-soothing with easily-accessible porn.

To be clear, there remain questions as to the conclusive effects that the watching of pornography has on men. This is mostly due to it being a relatively new area of focus, and more time is required for full understanding. However, each year adds more and more studies to the scientific archive, which have begun to offer clues.

What is indisputable however is how popular porn is; one survey found that 99% of its adult male participants reported watching porn at some point in their lives. On top of that, the pornographic industry is estimated to generate in excess of $100 billion every year.

Partially due to its popularity and accessibility, some men may be under the impression that pornography isn’t harmful, or that the supposed side effects of overconsumption are hardly of any danger in comparison to other more illicit sources of pleasure like hard drugs or gambling.

However, it’s the perception that porn isn’t harmful that can lead to the underestimation of the very real consequences of viewing too much porn.

Social scientists, psychologists, biologists, and neurologists have increased their attention toward its effects over the past two decades, and are beginning to understand what habitually watching porn does to the mechanics of our bodies and minds.

Here are three somewhat unexpected and surprising effects of consuming porn, and porn addiction.

1. Pornography Removes You from Reality and Your Physical Sensations

One of pornography’s largest influences on men is desensitization. It’s a similar process that occurs when watching or playing a glut of violent movies and video games over time. The brain begins to change its perceptions of what it considers normal and acceptable, leading to a skewed concept of reality. This occurs in several ways:

Side Effect of Porn: Objectification of People – Often Leading to Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Due to Desensitization

Pornography is fantastical by nature, and the behavior of the actors is scripted, which by definition makes it unreal. The performances by these actors, typically the women involved, present an unrealistic performance and can lead to harmful attitudes about body autonomy; or completely discount those in our lives as fellow human beings with their own thoughts, motivations, flaws, desires, and dignity.

Men who watch an extreme amount of porn often face difficulties maintaining their erection in the bedroom, known as erectile dysfunction. According to Tim Jacobs, MD at the University of Antwerp, this is unlikely due to issues in the blood vessels or nerves of the penis. The arousal level that porn induces through extreme content is often not matched in real life intercourse. This ultimately leads porn addicted men to become numb and desensitized to stimulation in their real sexual lives.

Side Effect of Porn: Misrepresentation of Sexuality

Pornography misrepresents nearly all regular sexual situations and interactions. This creates a falsified perception in the viewer, and can lead to harmful attitudes toward sex.

Side Effect of Porn: Tolerance of Abnormal Sexual Interactions

Men who regularly consume pornography at high rates demonstrate a marked increase in their tolerance of abnormal sexual interactions and behaviors—namely toward aggression, promiscuity, and violence.

2. Pornography Addiction Is Similar to Other Harmful Addictions

porn addiction effects bad for health harmful

Like hard drugs or gambling, pornography consumption can represent an escape from reality, as a way to deal with stress, or even just a quick hit of dopamine at inopportune times. As such, each of these vices can easily lead to full-blown addiction.

It also means that over time, different and more frequent use is required to achieve the same “high” as tolerance is built up. Simple neurology tells us that the reputation of an act forges pathways in our brains; and repetition of the action involved becomes easier and easier each time.

However, pornography addiction also brings with it a destructive effect on personal relationships—especially with our partners.

Pornography addiction in men manifests itself within our relationships by way of decreased satisfaction in marriages and less emotional attachment to our spouse. Those suffering may quickly find themselves choosing porn over people or social events. Others report an overall feeling of numbness toward their everyday experiences and a prioritization of their next “hit” over their goals and ambitions.

Not having easy access to porn can have an effect on one’s mood, making them irritable or depressed—and may lead to risky and unnecessary behaviors like watching porn at work or in other public spaces.

Even if you don’t believe you’re addicted to porn, the danger is still apparent; PET scans of men who were diagnosed as addicts and those who were not show similar brain activity among both groups when viewing pornography. Furthermore, that activity was akin to what occurs when cocaine addicts view images of someone consuming the drug.

Pornography addicts must understand that removing feelings of shame or guilt is essential to begin recovery. Instead, approach treatment as though you’re tracking down a strange noise under the hood of your car. Once you recognize the biological processes behind the emotional issues at hand, it becomes a simpler matter to deal with and eventually overcome.

3. Pornography Consumption Brings Both Physical and Emotional Effects – Including Erectile Dysfunction

physical and emotional effects of watching porn

Perhaps most concerning for many men is the affect pornography can have on erectile dysfunction and other sexual dysfunctions like delayed ejaculation or impotence.

A recent study links increased pornography use to increased cases of erectile dysfunction and probabilities that men would have trouble getting and maintaining and erection. A survey of 3,267 men identified that roughly 30-40% of men who watched 40 minutes of porn per day had ED, compared with 10% of men who watched less than 30 minutes per week.

As mentioned previously, more time is necessary to conclusively answer the question of how harmful pornography may be. However, there are now more than 85 studies that suggest a link between poor mental and emotional health, and porn use.

It also has been associated with more pervasive attitudes regarding promiscuity—which carries the physical threats of STDs; something that the films don’t ever seem to convey.

Another concept that pornography doesn’t touch on is the intricate relationship between the physical act and our emotions. Sex is the most intimate of human experiences, and brings complex motivations and consequences.

Porn by contrast doesn’t provide any romantic context and ignores the realities of courtship. As such, being addicted to porn can deprive us of long-lasting and deep companionship, and the benefits of a higher quality of sex when it’s bolstered by an emotional connection.

Without this, relationships do suffer. A 2018 survey among more than 2,000 married adults discovered that the chances of divorce doubled for men who began watching porn regularly after their marriage. These effects were magnified exponentially in men who were in their 30s and 20s, respectively.

Overcoming Pornography Addiction

Understanding and accepting the side effects of pornography consumption is the first step toward being able to control them.

Considering your relationship with porn is essential when devising healthy habits, and can go a long way toward diagnosing and treating ED.

Contact the medical experts at Prestige Men’s Medical Center today to learn more about resolving the root issues of sexual dysfunctions like erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and adrenal fatigue to help overcome porn’s influence on your life.

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