Your Brain on Porn

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Start here: Evolution has not prepared your brain for today's porn

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 arousal, and lower sexual & relationship 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. 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 lay article and in this peer-reviewed paper involving 7 US Navy doctors - Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports (2016)

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 (no studies falsify the porn addiction model). The results of these 37 neurological studies (and upcoming studies) are consistent with 220+ 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 12 recent neuroscience-based reviews of the literature:

Studies linking porn use to poorer mental-emotional health & poorer cognitive outcomes

Many individuals who cease using porn for an extended period of time report mental and cognitive benefits, such as improved concentration and focus, better grades, increased energy and motivation, social anxiety improved or gone, increased confidence, improved mood, depression reduced or gone, greater desire to be social, more intense or vibrant emotions, and increased desire to be in a loving relationship.

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 31 - Erectile Dysfunction and Delayed Ejaculation cured in 17 days. After 8 years of PMO

I'm 31 years, 5ft 10, well-built, and never had a girlfriend (and still don't). My 20s were about focusing on my education and career and forgetting about girls who would reject me for the 6ft 2 blond haired blue eyed alpha male stud. I am now well off in my career and have my own place and an investment property. My struggles have given me lots of life experience and wisdom, which I guess a lot of women now find attractive, so I now have no issues getting girls.

Age 23 - Better memory, Easier to socialize, More calibrated sense of humour, Better relationships with friends & family, More confidence

After 5 years of trying, I have finally reached the magical day 90 that I had only ever dreamed of seeing. Today feels like a fresh day for me, I don't feel like I'm completely rebooted yet, but I feel like I've reached a point where I can move on with my life and no longer have nofap as my main focus. Hopefully those of you struggling through this reboot can pick something up from this post and use it to get past this challenge.

Studies linking porn use to "un-egalitarian attitudes" toward women

This page collects findings that falsify the popular sexology claim that porn use promotes egalitarian attitudes toward women.

Let's begin with the 2016 study that inspired the creation of this page -"Is Pornography Really about "Making Hate to Women"? Pornography Users Hold More Gender Egalitarian Attitudes Than Nonusers in a Representative American Sample." It has been heavily cited as strong evidence that porn use leads to greater egalitarianism and less sexist attitudes. Actually, this Taylor Kohut study (like a second 2016 Kohut paper) provides an instructive example of how to twist methodology to achieve a desired result.