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.

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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 33 - PIED, PE, anorgasmia: I feel like a man again. I've had mind blowing sex.

There is a war for our hearts and minds, and imho, porn has been easily the most destructive force that has been in my life. It has cost me two loves of my life, 95% of my soul, 99% of my confidence, 90% of my cognition, 100% of my dignity, thousands and thousands of dollars, years of intense depression, friends, and it has added inordinate amounts of stress to the people that I love.

Age 23 - Confidence, socializing, integrity, I can do anything step by step

My life is soo much better now i cant believe it. Damn, if someone told me like 4 months ago i can be happy with me and my life i wouldnt believe... but i am. I know i will repeat things other guys already wrote but i just want to share some things.

'Tidal wave' of porn addiction as experts warn action is needed to save the next 'lost generation' (Pauline Brown)

One leading charity has revealed that regular consumers of online adult porn are more likely to start watching child pornography and other illegal materials to get the hit they crave. Scotland needs more sex therapists to tackle a spiralling increase in the number of porn addicts.