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 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 32 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 10 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 - PIED gone, self-positivity growing stronger with time

The first month is great as you begin to enjoy the subtler things life has to offer. Food tastes better, Nature is more beautiful. Second month new habits were formed. Started playing the piano, waking up at 7 am everyday and joined a yoga studio where I go 5 times a week.

Studies Find Escalation (and Habituation) in Porn Users

Compulsive porn users often describe escalation in their porn use that takes the form of greater time viewing or seeking out new genres of porn. New genres that induce shock, surprise, violation of expectations or even anxiety can function to increase sexual arousal, and in porn users whose response to stimuli is growing blunted due to overuse, this phenomenon is extremely common.

Age 26 - PIED, confidence, moving out on my own

I will be 27 in July. First time I had contact with porn, was at age 7 or even younger. I've been jacking it for 19 years now. But I wasn't doing it like 7 times a day. It was just once and that's it. Well why did I begin NoFap?

Age early 30s - Decreased social anxiety, enjoying the little things

I'm one of the veterans of this subreddit as I discovered it almost 4 years ago. My longest streak was 11 months and a lot of 3-4 months in between relapses. This is a huge progress for someone who was addicted to masturbation since the age of 14 (I'm in my early 30s).