Your Brain on Porn

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Start here for a brief overview of concepts & science

This article is a short synopsis of some key concepts. For the science behind it, please follow all the links and read this page. Some links go to our articles, which in turn link to studies. For a more in-depth understanding and further evidence see The Research Page. For specific content explore Porn FAQs.


What happens when you drop a male rat into a cage with a receptive female rat? First, you see a frenzy of copulation. Then, progressively, the male tires of that particular female. Even if she wants more, he has had enough. However, replace the original female with a fresh one, and the male immediately revives and gallantly struggles to fertilize her. You can repeat this process with fresh females until he is completely wiped out.

This is called the Coolidge effect—the automatic response to novel mates. Interestingly, men ejaculate more motile sperm and they do it more quickly when they view a novel porn star. This powerful automatic response to erotic novelty is what started you down the road to getting hooked on internet porn.

Studies linking porn use or porn/sex addiction to sexual dysfunctions, lower brain activation to sexual stimuli, and lower sexual satisfaction

Reality Check - Regardless of what you may read in some journalistic accounts, multiple studies reveal a link between porn use and sexual performance problems, relationship and sexual dissatisfaction, and reduced brain activation to sexual stimuli.

Let's start with sexual dysfunctions. All studies assessing young male sexuality since 2010 report historic levels of sexual dysfunctions, and startling rates of a new scourge: low libido. Documented in this article.

Brain Studies on Porn Users

This page lists all the studies assessing the brain structure and functioning of Internet porn users. To date every study offers support for the porn addiction model. The results of these 26 studies (and upcoming studies) are consistent with 160+ Internet addiction brain studies, many of which also include internet porn use. All support the premise that internet porn use can cause addiction-related brain changes, as do 9 recent neuroscience-based reviews of the literature:

Gary's TEDx talk - "The Great Porn Experiment"

Captions also available for other languages, including 한국의, Chinese, Português, Czech, Deutsch, Estonian, עברית, Hungarian, Italian, Polski, Serbian, Slovak. Vietamese. To see them, click on the 'YouTube' logo to watch on YOUTube. Then, when you get there, click on "CC" for captions (bottom right of screen). Ver YBOP series in Español. Make captions in your own language!

Age 27 - I have a healthy libido for the first time in my life

BEFORE - Sex was hollow, a shell of what it should have been for me. I was fapping to porn for years before my first sexual encounter with a girl. The first time that I had sex was a great experiance, but it was nothing compared to porn. When I watched porn, my heart would start pounding as soon as I typed in the porn site.

Age 29 - I'm more confident, composed and energetic

I have not fapped for 377 days. What I gained isn't any superpower like the other fapstranauts. I just have more clarity and freedom from being enslaved by sexual desires. And that itself to me, is already worth the journey.

"Research: Porn addiction contributing to ED in men younger than 40" (Short video, SFL-TV)

A leading psycho-sexual therapist said she has seen an alarming surge in young men coming into her clinic to be treated for ED. She blames smart phone and tablets for making porn more accessible — and thereby desensitizing to you men. She said it makes it difficult for them to become aroused in the bedroom.

Porn is ruining our love lives and making old men of our teenagers (Telegraph - UK)

Infuriating, emasculating and, for some, psychologically debilitating, the curse of erectile dysfunction has traditionally been an affliction of the middle-aged Romeo.

Until now.