Your Brain on Porn

Printer-friendly version

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 literature review by the US Navy.

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 33 neurological studies (and upcoming studies) are consistent with 200+ 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 11 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 21 - PIED cured in 40 days

I am 21 years old now as of the 17 of this month and I suspected I had PIED when I was watching porn with an erection and minutes later I was in bed with a real girl and there was no erection. I started that day March 14th cold turkey no PMO and after that I failed to get a erection on multiple occasions with a new girl that I was talking to.

Age 21 - Almost 2 years porn free, my success story

By the time I started rebooting, I had been robbed of any misconceptions of my willpower and ability to power through things. So I opted for full focus on my process. I honed and honed my approach until I finally made it. Now I'm almost a full two years without porn and couldn't be happier.

Age 22 - I had a limp dick all day except when I watched porn. Not good.

I started watching porn at the age of 12-13. I'm now 22 and I finally stopped for good. Why? Because I never went for longer than 1-2 months of no porn everytime I tried to quit. So here's something you gotta understand if it’s your first or nth time trying to quit: it may not be your last.

Sexologists Deny PIED by Claiming Masturbation Is the Problem

In the last year, an audacious red herring has insinuated itself into the tweets and blogs of some AASECT sexologists: the notion that PIED (porn-induced erectile dysfunction) is caused by masturbation. Without offering any scientific support, this band of porn-apologists has determined to persuade us that porn is not behind the recent rise of coital ED in online porn enthusiasts. (Gotta be anything but porn, right?)