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!

German Heterosexual Women’s Pornography Consumption and Sexual Behavior (2017)

Public Health Significance Statement:

This study suggests that greater exposure to pornography among heterosexual German women is associated with their desire to engage in or having previously engaged in submissive sexual behaviors but not dominant behaviors. This pattern of correlations aligns with sexual script theory and content analyses of dominance and submission and gender in pornography. It does not align with the perspective that measures of pornography consumption are simply proxies for factors such as a high sex drive or an adventurous approach to sex.

Age 31 - PIED cured, but I went back to masturbation too soon.

A 120 day reboot story with lessons learned. I'm not usually one for sharing on the internet but seeing as it was stories of success that gave me the confidence to start I'd like to return to favour. Especially for those reading who see some of their own story in mine.

Age 20 - Less depression and procrastination, way less anxious

I am 20. Benefits? Apart from the energy, I have less depressive states (on average), I can endure more problems, be more active without procrastinating. Also, I am way less anxious and I almost never shout or speak too fast. This also helped me in public or with friends.

Age 23 - Discipline, girlfriend, 50 pounds lighter

I stumbled upon the nofap sub a few days into a streak, as I'd been trying to quit on my own. The online community here led to accountability partners through the last infamous nofap war, and I've kept up with several accountability partners daily since then. As for improvements, I don't really know where to begin.