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 230+ 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 13 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" (2012)

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 healed, and lots of personal growth

I was at a low point sexually, mentally, and physically. I paid for two prostitutes while abroad and my sexual performance was still shit even though they were really hot. At that moment I was really mad that my PMO habit had fucked me over so badly that I vowed that I will never watch porn again and never masturbate again. I will only orgasm as a result of getting a girl to get me off.

Porn Addiction & Sexual Dysfunction (KetoGeek podcast)

With erectile dysfunction rates skyrocketing in men under age 40, it was about time we started to look at the science and evidence behind these scary numbers. What's  fascinating is how there is overlap in various addictive patterns and at Ketogeek we wanted to better understand how the brain works while potentially interpolating the findings into other lifestyle choices and addictive activities. Listen now

Age 22 - A great transition to adulthood

I just reached 100 days. The best 100 days of my life so far in many aspects. More energy, more time, more productive. Definitely more calm. Made better decisions. Had better willpower on everything. Have been more logical as a person.