Porn use studies involving female subjects: Effects on arousal, sexual satisfaction, and relationships

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Comments: While a few studies report little effect of women's porn use on women's sexual and relationship satisfaction, most do report negative effects. This page contains studies linking female porn use to lower sexual or relationship satisfaction.

When evaluating the research, it's important to know that a relatively small percentage of all coupled females regularly consumes internet porn. Large, nationally representative data are scarce, but the General Social Survey reported that only 2.6% of all US women had visited a "pornographic website" in the last month. The question was only asked in 2002 and 2004 (see Pornography and Marriage, 2014). While rates of porn use by some age groups of adult women have increased since 2004, be careful when comparing rates from other studies. Very few studies are nationally representative (all age groups), and often ask if the subject has seen pornography in the last 12 months.

[Update: Sexual orientation is also relevant to porn use rates. If a sample is not representative of the general population, it can lead to skewed data and conclusions. From Cheap Sex, p.121(2017)]

Whereas only 2 percent of straight women reported past-day pornography use, 17 percent of bisexual women did so, 11 percent of “mostly heterosexual” women said so, as well as 8 percent of lesbian women. In most estimates displayed here, the pornography use rates of sexual minority women are three times that of straight women. Bisexual women even give straight men a run for their  money. (In fact, their past-week use rates are higher than among heterosexual men.)

The key takeaway is that representative studies reporting positive or neutral effects on relationship satisfaction (or other variables) are deriving this correlation from the small percentage of females who are: (1) regular porn users, and, (2) in long-term relationships (perhaps 3-5% of adult females).

Also, it may be that coupled use is less detrimental to users, and coupled use of porn is more common in women (as compared with men). However, that assumption appears to be changing as more young women access internet porn when masturbating. For example,

Among the youngest adult women, the correlation (or connection) between past-week porn use and past-week masturbation is more than twice as strong as it is among the oldest group of women in the survey (0.61 vs. 0.26, respectively). [From Cheap Sex, p.119 (2017)]

[Also, more porn use is not leading to more satisfaction.] There is a stronger connection between unmet sexual desire and pornography use among younger women than older women. (It is still far weaker than the same link among men.) [From Cheap Sex, p.116 (2017)]

In any case, in contrast with the few studies reporting no decreased sexual/relationship dissatisfaction in female porn users, below are the many studies linking porn use in women to poorer relationship and sexual satisfaction outcomes in women.

Studies on relationships and sexual satisfaction:


Associative pathways between pornography consumption and reduced sexual satisfaction (2017) - While it links porn use to lower sexual satisfaction, it also reported that frequency of porn use was related to a preference (or need?) for porn over people to achieve sexual arousal. An excerpt:

Guided by sexual script theory, social comparison theory, and informed by prior research on pornography, socialization, and sexual satisfaction, the present survey study of heterosexual adults tested a conceptual model linking more frequent pornography consumption to reduced sexual satisfaction via the perception that pornography is a primary source of sexual information, a preference for pornographic over partnered sexual excitement, and the devaluation of sexual communication. The model was supported by the data for both men and women.

Pornography consumption frequency was associated with perceiving pornography as a primary source of sexual information, which was associated with a preference for pornographic over partnered sexual excitement and the devaluation of sexual communication. Preferring pornographic to partnered sexual excitement and devaluing sexual communication were both associated with less sexual satisfaction.

Finally, we found that frequency of pornography consumption was also directly related to a relative preference for pornographic rather than partnered sexual excitement. Participants in the present study primarily consumed pornography for masturbation. Thus, this finding could be indicative of a masturbatory conditioning effect (Cline, 1994; Malamuth, 1981; Wright, 2011). The more frequently pornography is used as an arousal tool for masturbation, the more an individual may become conditioned to pornographic as opposed to other sources of sexual arousal.


Till Porn Do Us Part? Longitudinal Effects of Pornography Use on Divorce (2017) - This longitudinal study used nationally representative General Social Survey panel data collected from thousands of American adults. Respondents were interviewed three times about their pornography use and marital status -- every two years from 2006-2010, 2008-2012, or 2010-2014. Excerpts:

Our study is the first to examine how viewing pornography could be associated with marital stability using data that are nationally representative and longitudinal. Using a doubly robust approach that allows us to isolate the longitudinal association between viewing pornography and likelihood of divorce, we find that the likelihood of divorce roughly doubles for those who begin pornography use between waves. While this association looks slightly stronger for women in terms of predicted probabilities, men and women did not differ significantly from one another. Conversely, we found that ending porn use was associated with a lower likelihood of divorce, but only for women

Beginning pornography use between survey waves nearly doubled one's likelihood of being divorced by the next survey period, from 6 percent to 11 percent, and nearly tripled it for women, from 6 percent to 16 percent. Our results suggest that viewing pornography, under certain social conditions, may have negative effects on marital stability. Conversely, discontinuing pornography use between survey waves was associated with a lower probability of divorce, but only for women.

Additional analyses also showed that the association between beginning pornography use and the probability of divorce was particularly strong among younger Americans, those who were less religious, and those who reported greater initial marital happiness


Are Pornography Users More Likely to Experience A Romantic Breakup? Evidence from Longitudinal Data (2017) - Excerpt:

This study examined whether Americans who use pornography, either at all or more frequently, are more prone to report experiencing a romantic breakup over time. Longitudinal data were taken from the 2006 and 2012 waves of the nationally representative Portraits of American Life Study. Binary logistic regression analyses demonstrated that Americans who viewed pornography at all in 2006 were nearly twice as likely as those who never viewed pornography to report experiencing a romantic breakup by 2012, even after controlling for relevant factors such as 2006 relationship status and other sociodemographic correlates. This association was considerably stronger for men than for women and for unmarried Americans than for married Americans. Analyses also showed a linear relationship between how frequently Americans viewed pornography in 2006 and their odds of experiencing a breakup by 2012.

While the likelihood of women experiencing a breakup only rose about 34 percent with earlier porn viewing (from 15.4 percent to 23.5 percent), the likelihood of male porn users experiencing a breakup was over 3.5 times that of non-porn users (22.5 percent compared to 6.3 percent).


The Development of the Problematic Pornography Consumption Scale (PPCS) (2017) - This paper's goal was the creation of a problematic porn use questionnaire. In the process of validating the instruments, the researchers found that higher scores on the porn use questionnaire were related to lower sexual satisfaction. Gender differences in relationship satisfaction were not mentioned. An excerpt:

Therefore, a total of 772 participants (females = 390, 50.5%; males = 382, 45.5%) were retained for further analyses who were between ages 18 and 54

Satisfaction with sexual life was weakly and negatively correlated with PPCS scores


Relationship quality predicts online sexual activities among Chinese heterosexual men and women in committed relationships (2016) - An excerpt:

Three hundred and forty-four participants with steady partners (i.e., dating or married) in China volunteered to take part in the study, including 178 men and 166 women from 29 provinces/regions in China. In this study, we examined the online sexual activities (OSAs) of Chinese men and women in committed relationships, with a focus on the characteristics of OSAs and the factors prompting men and women with steady partners to engage in OSAs. Almost 89% of the participants reported OSA experiences in the past 12 months even when they had a real-life partner.

As predicted, individuals with lower relationship quality in real life, including low relationship satisfaction, insecure attachment, and negative communication patterns, engaged in OSAs more frequently. Additionally, dyadic satisfaction significantly predicted OSAs among both men and women. Overall, our results suggest that variables influencing offline infidelity may also influence online infidelity.


Sexually explicit media use and relationship satisfaction a moderating role of emotional intimacy? (2016) - The authors attempt to obfuscate their findings in the abstract by stating that once sexual and relationship variables were "controlled for", they found no link between between porn use and relationship satisfaction. Reality: The study found significant correlations between porn use and poorer relationship & sexual satisfaction in both males and females. Excerpt from discussion section:

For both men and women, significant, yet modest negative zero-order correlations between SEM use and relationship satisfaction were found, indicating that increased SEM use was associated with lower relationship satisfaction across gender.


Effect of soft core pornography on female sexuality (2016) - Excerpt:

This is a cross-sectional study in which 200 sexually active married women were administered a self-filling questionnaire covering different aspects of female sexuality. All participants were free from any disease known to affect sexual function. In total 52% of the participants and 59.5% of their husbands were positive watchers.

An overall 51.6% of participants who were aware that their husbands were positive watchers reported experiencing negative emotions (depression, jealous), whereas 77% reported changes in their husbands’ attitude. Non-watchers watchers were more satisfied with their sexual life compared with their counterparts. Although watching soft-core pornography had a statistically significant effect on sexual desire, vaginal lubrication, ability to reach orgasm, and masturbation, it had no statistically significant effect on coital frequency. Watching soft-core pornography affects female sexual life by increasing sexual boredom in both men and women, causing relational difficulties.


Internet Pornography Consumption and Relationship Commitment of Filipino Married Individuals (2016) - Excerpt:

A self-administered survey was distributed to 400 selected Filipino married individuals who were married individuals that are watching pornography on the Internet who are living in Quezon City.

Internet pornography has many adverse effects, especially to the relationship commitment. The use of pornography directly correlates to a decrease in sexual intimacy. Hence, this might lead to weakening of the relationship of their partner. To find out the relevance of the claim, the researchers aimed to explore the relationship of Internet pornography consumption to the relationship commitment of married individuals in the Philippines. It is revealed that Internet pornography consumption has an adverse effect on the relationship commitment of married Filipino couples. Furthermore, watching porn online weakened the relationship commitment that leads to an unstable relationship. This investigation found out that internet pornography consumption has a nominal negative effect on the relationship commitment of Filipino married individuals.


Cyberpornography: Time Use, Perceived Addiction, Sexual Functioning, and Sexual Satisfaction (2016) - Excerpt:

First, even when controlling for perceived addiction to cyberpornography and overall sexual functioning, cyberpornography use remained directly associated with sexual dissatisfaction. Even though this negative direct association was of small magnitude, time spent viewing cyberpornography seems to be a robust predictor of lower sexual satisfaction.

Our results highlight that psychosexual outcomes are similar for men and women. Thus, we observed negative psychosexual functioning in both women and men.


The effects of sexually explicit material use on romantic relationship dynamics (2016) - Excerpts:

Participants included 75 males (25%) and 221 females (75%) aged 18–87 years

More specifically, couples, where no one used, reported more relationship satisfaction than those couples that had individual users. This is consistent with the previous research (Cooper et al., 1999; Manning, 2006), demonstrating that the solitary use of sexually explicit material results in negative consequences.

With gender effects held constant, individual users reported significantly less intimacy and commitment in their relationships than non-users and shared users.

Overall, how frequently someone views sexually explicit material can have an impact on users’ consequences. Our study found that high frequency users are more likely to have lower relationship satisfaction and intimacy in their romantic relationships.


Factors Predicting Cybersex Use and Difficulties in Forming Intimate Relationships among Male and Female Users of Cybersex (2015) - Excerpt:

This study used the Cybersex addiction test, Craving for pornography questionnaire, and a Questionnaire on intimacy among 267 participants (192 males and 75 females) mean age for males 28 and for females 25, who were recruited from special sites that are dedicated to pornography and cybersex on the Internet. Results of regression analysis indicated that pornography, gender, and cybersex significantly predicted difficulties in intimacy and it accounted for 66.1% of the variance of rating on the intimacy questionnaire.

Second, regression analysis also indicated that craving for pornography, gender, and difficulties in forming intimate relationships significantly predicted frequency of cybersex use and it accounted for 83.7% of the variance in ratings of cybersex use.

Third, men had higher scores of frequency of using cybersex than women and higher scores of craving for pornography than women and no higher scores on the questionnaire measuring difficulties in forming intimate relationship than women.


Relationship of love and marital satisfaction with pornography among married university students in Birjand, Iran (2015) - Excerpts:

This descriptive-correlation study was conducted on 310 married students studying at private and public universities in Birjand, in 2012-2013 academic year using random quota sampling method.

Conclusion: It appears that pornography has a negative impact on love and marital satisfaction..... There was no significant gender-difference in overall mean scores of marital satisfaction.


Pornography and Marriage (2014) - All bad news, and it's getting worse. Excerpts:

We used data on 20,000 ever-married adults in the General Social Survey to examine the relationship between watching pornographic films and various measures of marital well-being. We found that adults who had watched an X-rated movie in the past year were more likely to be divorced, more likely to have had an extramarital affair, and less likely to report being happy with their marriage or happy overall. We also found that, for men, pornography use reduced the positive relationship between frequency of sex and happiness. Finally, we found that the negative relationship between pornography use and marital well-being has, if anything, grown stronger over time, during a period in which pornography has become both more explicit and more easily available.

Our results were similar when we control for gender, age, race, education, and number of children, and they shrank by about one third when we included controls for frequency of religious attendance.

For women, all of the coefficients have the same sign but were generally smaller in magnitude than those of men. Women who reported using pornography had 10% higher odds of being divorced, 95 % higher odds of having had an extramarital affair, 8% lower odds of reporting having a very happy marriage, and about 2% lower odds of being very happy with their life overall


Associations between relational sexual behaviour, pornography use, and pornography acceptance among US college students (2014) - Excerpt:

Using a sample of 792 emerging adults, the present study explored how the combined examination of pornography use, acceptance, and sexual behaviour within a relationship might offer insight into emerging adults' development. Results suggested clear gender differences in both pornography use and acceptance patterns. High male pornography use tended to be associated with high engagement in sex within a relationship and was associated with elevated risk-taking behaviours. High female pornography use was not associated with engagement in sexual behaviours within a relationship and was general associated with negative mental health outcomes.


Internet Pornography Exposure and Women's Attitude Towards Extramarital Sex: An Exploratory Study (2013) - Excerpt:

This exploratory study assessed the association between adult U.S. women's exposure to Internet pornography and attitude towards extramarital sex using data provided by the General Social Survey (GSS). A positive association between Internet pornography viewing and more positive extramarital sex attitudes was found.


Young Adult Women’s Reports of Their Male Romantic Partner’s Pornography Use as a Correlate of Their Self-Esteem, Relationship Quality, and Sexual Satisfaction (2012) - Excerpt:

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between men’s pornography use, both frequency and problematic use, on their heterosexual female partner’s psychological and relational well-being among 308 young adult college women. Results revealed women’s reports of their male partner’s frequency of pornography use were negatively associated with their relationship quality. More perceptions of problematic use of pornography was negatively correlated with self-esteem, relationship quality, and sexual satisfaction.


A Love That Doesn’t Last: Pornography Consumption and Weakened Commitment to One’s Romantic Partner (2012) – The study had subjects try to abstain from porn use for 3 weeks. Upon comparing the two groups, those who continued using pornography reported lower levels of commitment than those who tried to abstain. Excerpts:

Participants were 367 undergraduates (300 female) from a Southeastern university who participated in the study for partial course credit in a family development course. Participants ranged in age from 17 to 26 with a median age of 19 and reported being in a heterosexual, romantic relationship.

Study 1 found that higher pornography consumption was related to lower commitment

Study 3 participants were randomly assigned to either refrain from viewing pornography or to a self-control task. Those who continued using pornography reported lower levels of commitment than control participants.

Study 5 found that pornography consumption was positively related to infidelity and this association was mediated by commitment. Overall, a consistent pattern of results was found using a variety of approaches including cross-sectional (Study 1), observational (Study 2), experimental (Study 3), and behavioral (Studies 4 and 5) data.


Associations between young adults’ use of sexually explicit materials and their sexual preferences, behaviors, and satisfaction (2011) - Excerpts:

In this study, 92% of young men and 50% of young women reported having ever used a variety of types of SEM.

Higher frequencies of sexual explicit material (SEM) use were associated with less sexual and relationship satisfaction. The frequency of SEM use and number of SEM types viewed were both associated with higher sexual preferences for the types of sexual practices typically presented in SEM. These findings suggest that SEM use can play a significant role in a variety of aspects of young adults' sexual development processes. Specifically, higher viewing frequency was associated with less sexual and relationship satisfaction when controlling for gender, religiosity, dating status and the number of SEM types viewed.

It appears as though SEM use is associated with specific sexual preferences in addition to being associated with earlier and greater sexual experiences, as well as lower sexual and relationship satisfaction. This combination reveals that, despite having a well-defined set of preferences and experiences, individuals frequently using SEM are nonetheless less satisfied with these experiences.

For women, SEM viewing frequency was not correlated with sexual satisfaction and was only marginally negatively correlated with relationship satisfaction.

Finally, regression analyses revealed that both SEM viewing frequency and the number of SEM types viewed uniquely predicted all three sexual preference variables. These robust relationships (particularly with the ‘‘kinky sex’’ subscale) indicate that heavy consumers of SEM hold similar sexual preferences to those frequently portrayed in SEM (e.g., Jensen & Dines, 1998; Krassas et al., 2003; Menard & Kleinplatz, 2008).


Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone or Together: Associations with Relationship Quality (2011) - Excerpts:

This study investigated associations between viewing sexually-explicit material (SEM) and relationship functioning in a random sample of 1291 unmarried individuals in romantic relationships. 

Those who viewed SEM only with their partners reported more dedication and higher sexual satisfaction than those who viewed SEM alone. Individuals who never viewed SEM reported higher relationship quality on all indices than those who viewed SEM alone. The only difference between those who never viewed SEM and those who viewed it only with their partners was that those who never viewed it had lower rates of infidelity.


Exploring actor and partner correlates of sexual satisfaction among married couples (2010) - Excerpt:

Using the Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction, we consider how infidelity, pornography consumption, marital satisfaction, sexual frequency, premarital sex, and cohabitation are associated with married couples’ sexual satisfaction. Data from 433 couples are analyzed with structural equation models to determine the contributions. Finally, some evidence suggests that pornography consumption is costly for own and spouse’s sexual satisfaction, especially when pornography is used by only one spouse.


Adolescents’ Exposure to Sexually Explicit Internet Material and Sexual Satisfaction: A Longitudinal Study (2009) - Excerpt:

Between May 2006 and May 2007, we conducted a three-wave panel survey among 1,052 Dutch adolescents aged 13–20. Structural equation modeling revealed that exposure to SEIM consistently reduced adolescents’ sexual satisfaction. Lower sexual satisfaction (in Wave 2) also increased the use of SEIM (in Wave 3). The effect of exposure to SEIM on sexual satisfaction did not differ among male and female adolescents.


Use of pornography in a random sample of Norwegian heterosexual couples (2009) - Porn use was correlated with more sexual dysfunctions in the man and negative self perception in the female. The couples who did not use porn had no sexual dysfunctions. A few excerpts from the study:

In couples where only one partner used pornography, we found more problems related to arousal (male) and negative (female) self-perception.

In those couples where one partner used pornography there was a permissive erotic climate. At the same time, these couples seemed to have more dysfunctions.

The couples who did not use pornography... may be considered more traditional in relation to the theory of sexual scripts. At the same time, they did not seem to have any dysfunctions.

Couples who both reported pornography use grouped to the positive pole on the ‘‘Erotic climate’’ function and somewhat to the negative pole on the ‘‘Dysfunctions’’ function.


Sex in America Online: An Exploration of Sex, Marital Status, and Sexual Identity in Internet Sex Seeking and Its Impacts (2008) - Excerpt:

This was an exploratory study of sex and relationship seeking on the Internet, based on a survey of 15,246 respondents in the United States Seventy-five percent of men and 41% of women had intentionally viewed or downloaded porn. Men and gays/lesbians were more likely to access porn or engage in other sex-seeking behaviors online compared with straights or women. A symmetrical relationship was revealed between men and women as a result of viewing pornography, with women reporting more negative consequences, including lowered body image, partner critical of their body, increased pressure to perform acts seen in pornographic films, and less actual sex, while men reported being more critical of their partners' body and less interested in actual sex.


Adult Social Bonds and Use of Internet Pornography (2004) - (did not differentiate between men and women) Excerpt:

Complete data on 531 Internet users are taken from the General Social Surveys for 2000. Social bonds measures include religious, marital, and political ties. Measures of participation in sexual and drug-related deviant lifestyles, and demographic controls are included. The results of a logistic regression analysis found that among the strongest predictors of use of cyberporn were weak ties to religion and lack of a happy marriage.


Pornography’s Impact on Sexual Satisfaction (1988) - Excerpt:

Male and female students and nonstudents were exposed to videotapes featuring common, nonviolent pornography or innocuous content. Exposure was in hourly sessions in six consecutive weeks. In the seventh week, subjects participated in an ostensibly unrelated study on societal institutions and personal gratifications. [Porn use] strongly impacted self-assessment of sexual experience. After consumption of pornography, subjects reported less satisfaction with their intimate partners—specifically, with these partners' affection, physical appearance, sexual curiosity, and sexual performance proper. In addition, subjects assigned increased importance to sex without emotional involvement. These effects were uniform across gender and populations.


Effects of Prolonged Consumption of Pornography on Family Values (1988) - Excerpts:

Male and female students and nonstudents were exposed to videotapes featuring common, nonviolent pornography or innocuous content. Exposure was in hourly sessions in six consecutive weeks. In the seventh week, subjects participated in an ostensibly unrelated study on societal institutions and personal gratifications. Marriage, cohabitational relationships, and related issues were judged on an especially created Value-of-Marriage questionnaire. The findings showed a consistent impact of pornography consumption. Exposure prompted, among other things, greater acceptance of pre- and extramarital sex and greater tolerance of nonexclusive sexual access to intimate partners. It enhanced the belief that male and female promiscuity are natural and that the repression of sexual inclinations poses a health risk. Exposure lowered the evaluation of marriage, making this institution appear less significant and less viable in the future. Exposure also reduced the desire to have children and promoted the acceptance of male dominance and female servitude. With few exceptions, these effects were uniform for male and female respondents as well as for students and nonstudents.


Landripet, Ivan; Štulhofer, Aleksandar; Jurin, Tanja

IASR Fortieth Annual Meeting Book of AbstractsDubrovnik

Pornography Use; Pornography Addiction; Sexual Difficulties and Dysfunctions; Hypoactive Sexual Desire; Erectile Dysfunction

Dubrovnik, Hrvatska, 25.-28. lipnja 2014.

A couple of recent large-scale epidemiological studies pointed to a surprisingly high prevalence of erectile dysfunction among young men (Mialon et al., 2012 ; Martins, 2010). It has been suggested that this “epidemic” is explained by excessive online pornography use. Similar concerns have been raised in response to anecdotal evidence of partnered sexual desire deficit. To empirically assess these claims, which reverberate in recent calls for systematic regulation of pornography, we explored: if pornography use is associated with male and female sexual dysfunctions (SD) ; if an increased frequency of pornography use is associated with SD ; and if the association between pornography use and sexual functioning is moderated by pornography genre (mainstream vs. specific/paraphilic contents).

Participants were recruited through Facebook and banners posted on several news and dating websites. In total, 4, 597 were included in the analyses (18-60 yrs ; mean age=31.1 ; 56.5% women). 56.3% reported college education and 38.4% were married/cohabitating.  Frequency of pornography use in the past 12 months, the time spent on pornography use in a typical day within that period, and their interaction indicated the intensity of pornography use.

Finding related to females:

However, increased pornography use was slightly but significantly associated with decreased interest for partnered sex (and more prevalent sexual dysfunction) among women.


The Survey of Sexual Health and Pornography among Divorce-Asking Women in West Azerbaijan-Iran: A Cross-Sectional Study (2017) - Excerpts:

One of the factors affecting the incidence of divorce and relationship problems between couples is the sexual and marital behaviors. There are several different reasons to suspect that pornography might affect divorce in either a positive or a negative way. Therefore this study evaluated the sexual health of divorce-asking in Urmia, Iran.

Conclusions: The results of the study indicated that who had low sexual satisfaction score, had higher rate of watching pornography clips. Based on current study, paying attention to family education and counseling programs especially in the sexual field will be more fruitful.


Personal Pornography Viewing and Sexual Satisfaction: A Quadratic Analysis (2017) - Excerpts:

This article presents results from a survey of approximately 1,500 U.S. adults. Quadratic analyses indicated a curvilinear relationship between personal pornography viewing and sexual satisfaction in the form of a predominately negative, concave downward curve. The nature of the curvilinearity did not differ as a function of participants' gender, relationship status, or religiosity.

For all groups, negative simple slopes were present when viewing reached once a month or more. These results are correlational only. However, if an effects perspective were adopted, they would suggest that consuming pornography less than once a month has little or no impact on satisfaction, that reductions in satisfaction tend to initiate once viewing reaches once a month, and that additional increases in the frequency of viewing lead to disproportionately larger decrements in satisfaction.


Neurological studies on female porn users

Cybersex addiction in heterosexual female users of internet pornography can be explained by gratification hypothesis (2014) - An excerpt:

In the context of Internet addiction, cybersex is considered to be an Internet application in which users are at risk for developing addictive usage behavior. Regarding males, experimental research has shown that indicators of sexual arousal and craving in response to Internet pornographic cues are related to severity of cybersex addiction in Internet pornography users (IPU). Since comparable investigations on females do not exist, the aim of this study is to investigate predictors of cybersex addiction in heterosexual women.

We examined 51 female IPU and 51 female non-Internet pornography users (NIPU). Using questionnaires, we assessed the severity of cybersex addiction in general, as well as propensity for sexual excitation, general problematic sexual behavior, and severity of psychological symptoms. Additionally, an experimental paradigm, including a subjective arousal rating of 100 pornographic pictures, as well as indicators of craving, was conducted.

Results indicated that IPU rated pornographic pictures as more arousing and reported greater craving due to pornographic picture presentation compared with NIPU. Moreover, craving, sexual arousal rating of pictures, sensitivity to sexual excitation, problematic sexual behavior, and severity of psychological symptoms predicted tendencies toward cybersex addiction in IPU. Being in a relationship, number of sexual contacts, satisfaction with sexual contacts, and use of interactive cybersex were not associated with cybersex addiction. These results are in line with those reported for heterosexual males in previous studies.

Findings regarding the reinforcing nature of sexual arousal, the mechanisms of learning, and the role of cue reactivity and craving in the development of cybersex addiction in IPU need to be discussed.


Exploring the Relationship between Sexual Compulsivity and Attentional Bias to Sex-Related Words in a Cohort of Sexually Active Individuals (2016) - Fifty-five participants who identified themselves as ‘sexually active’ and ‘heterosexual’ (28 male, 27 female; mean age 28.4, SD 10.4, range 20–69) took part in the study.

This study replicates the findings of this 2014 Cambridge University study that compared the attentional bias of porn addicts to healthy controls. The new study differs: rather than comparing porn addicts to controls, the new study correlated scores on a sex addiction questionnaire to the results of a task assessing attentional bias (explanation of attentional bias). The study described two key results:

  1. Higher sexual compulsivity scores correlated with greater interference (increased distraction) during the attentional bias task. This aligns with substance abuse studies.
  2. Among those scoring high on sexual addiction, fewer years of sexual experience were related to greater attentional bias.

The authors concluded that this result could indicate that more years of "compulsive sexual activity" lead to greater habituation or a general numbing of the pleasure response (desensitization). An excerpt from the conclusion section:

"One possible explanation for these results is that as a sexually compulsive individual engages in more compulsive behaviour, an associated arousal template develops and that over time, more extreme behaviour is required for the same level of arousal to be realised. It is further argued that as an individual engages in more compulsive behaviour, neuropathways become desensitized to more ‘normalised’ sexual stimuli or images and individuals turn to more ‘extreme’ stimuli to realise the arousal desired."

No differences seen between male and female participants:

No effects of age or gender (males: M = 20.75, SD 46.61; females: M = 19.30, SD 52.46) on interference scores were shown and are not considered in subsequent analyses.


Problematic sexual behavior in young adults: Associations across clinical, behavioral, and neurocognitive variables (2016) - Subjects included males & females. Individuals with Problematic Sexual Behaviors (PSB) exhibited several neuro-cognitive deficits. These findings indicate poorer executive functioning (hypofrontality) which is a key brain feature occurring in drug addicts. A few excerpts:

From this characterization, it is be possible to trace the problems evident in PSB and additional clinical features, such as emotional dysregulation, to particular cognitive deficits…. If the cognitive problems identified in this analysis are actually the core feature of PSB, this may have notable clinical implications.


Sexual Desire, not Hypersexuality, is Related to Neurophysiological Responses Elicited by Sexual Images (2013) – Subjects included males & females. EEG study was touted in the media as evidence against the existence of porn/sex addiction. Not so. This SPAN Lab study, like the one below, actually lends support to the existence of both porn addiction and porn use down-regulating sexual desire. In line with the Cambridge University brain scan studies, this EEG study also reported greater cue-reactivity to porn correlating with less desire for partnered sex. To put another way - individuals with greater brain activation to porn would rather masturbate to porn than have sex with a real person. Shockingly, study spokesman Nicole Prause claimed that porn users merely had "high libido", yet the results of the study say something quite different .Five peer-reviewed papers expose the truth: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Also see the extensive YBOP critique.


Modulation of Late Positive Potentials by Sexual Images in Problem Users and Controls Inconsistent with "Porn Addiction" (2015) – Subjects included males & females. Another SPAN Lab EEG (brain-wave) study comparing the 2013 subjects from the above study to an actual control group (yet it suffered from the same methodological flaws named above). The results: compared to controls "individuals experiencing problems regulating their porn viewing" had lower brain responses to one-second exposure to photos of vanilla porn. The lead author, Nicole Prause, claims these results "debunk porn addiction". 

In reality, the findings of Prause et al. 2015 align perfectly with Kühn & Gallinat (2014), which found that more porn use correlated with less brain activation in response to pictures of vanilla porn. Prause's findings also align with Banca et al. 2015. Lower EEG readings mean that subjects are paying less attention to the pictures. Put simply, frequent porn users were desensitized to static images of vanilla porn. They were bored (habituated or desensitized). These findings are consistent with tolerance, a sign of addiction. Tolerance is defined as a person’s diminished response to a drug or stimulus that is the result of repeated use. See this extensive YBOP critique. Five peer-reviewed papers agree that this study actually found desensitization/habituation in frequent porn users: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.