Understanding the Effects of Porn Addiction

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Consuming pornography is an all too common pastime. Studies estimate that between 86% and 96% of men regularly consume porn. Women consume only slightly less pornographic content.

However, while routinely viewing pornography may be beneficial for self-exploration, sexual education, and even improving relations with your partner, making a habit of this practice, to the extent where pornography affects your daily life, could be problematic for your well-being.

Porn addiction, much like other dependencies, may have many adverse effects. While there is limited research on the impact of watching too much pornography, the known effects suggest that you should limit your consumption of porn.

This article explains porn addiction, how to recognize if you've developed a porn addiction, the mental health effects of an addiction to porn, and how to get help.

What Is Porn Addiction?

Although porn addiction has yet to be recognized as a diagnosable condition, this behavior has been described as “problematic pornographic use."

People may be addicted to pornographic material if they constantly crave erotic displays despite attempts to reduce their urges. This person may also find other areas of life like work, academics, and social interactions limited by the constant need to consume porn. Watching porn may also take over any other interests.

A person with an addiction can be so overtaken with the need to consume porn, and they may begin to watch it in public spaces like at work or on public transit.

Porn addiction is very likely a behavior disorder, one characterized as hypersexual. It is similar to other sexual behavior disorders like excessive masturbation and cybersex.

Signs of Porn Addiction

To determine whether or not a person has an unhealthy relationship with porn, excessive consumption is usually found to take up a lot of time, which can lead to a loss of control.

Porn addiction may also cause a strain in relationships with others. This behavior may manifest in the following ways:

  • Excessive spending on pornographic material, sometimes at the expense of necessities
  • Engagement in risky sexual behavior
  • The use of porn to cope with difficult emotions like pain, anxiety, and sadness
  • Consuming porn at risky times and moments
  • Feeling anger at being advised to reduce porn consumption
  • An inability to quit porn despite efforts to
  • Experiencing shame following porn use, but being unable to stop the habit
  • Progressing to more extreme forms of pornography to find pleasure
  • Finding sexual intercourse to be less satisfying
  • Hiding porn habits from sexual partners and others

Effects of Porn Addiction

Because porn is so accessible, it’s easy for someone to become dependent on erotic material.

In a study reviewing porn’s addictive nature, subjects that consumed high amounts of erotic material were found to have increased brain reactions when presented with pornographic cues.

This reaction has also been observed when people with substance or gambling addictions are presented with addictive prompts.

Beyond changes in brain activity, however, excessive consumption of porn has also been found to have the following effects, all of which are outlined below.

Can Affect Intimacy Between Partners 

While anyone can become addicted to pornography, this behavior is more noticeable in men—a trait that can be problematic for their partners.

In particular, it has been observed that men who frequently watch pornographic content tend to pull away emotionally from their significant others. These men tend to develop secretive traits, and may even fall into depressive states following their overconsumption of porn.

The type of porn being viewed may also contribute to dwindling intimacy between partners, as men have a tendency to consume less-affectionate forms of pornography.

It Can Affect Your Partner's Self-esteem

When a partner observes their partner drawing away physically, preferring instead to turn to porn—it can be a heavy blow to their self-esteem.

Questions around their abilities in bed, the interests of their partner, and what other areas they may be falling short might consume the significant other of a person with this hypersexual disorder.

Pornography Can Affect Satisfaction From Sex

When a person is constantly viewing the bodies and intimate relations of others, it isn’t uncommon to make comparisons. Soon, they may begin to consider their physical appearance and sexual abilities weaker, in contrast with professional sex workers.

Other times, this dissatisfaction may be targeted at their partners, who may measure themselves against the actors their partner watches.

People with porn addiction may also place an unhealthy amount of pressure on their performance during intercourse which significantly affects their sexual experience. While they’re constantly watching people engage in sex, this person may find that their sex lives may feel less satisfying.

Can Affect Daily Functioning

Being glued to a screen displaying pornographic material can be very obstructive to your daily flow. It can hinder productivity in the workplace, at home, and in social settings.

The overwhelming need to watch others engage in intercourse can become more important than the meeting scheduled with a client, attending the doctor’s appointment, or even taking much-needed time to relax and enjoy the day.

Porn Addiction May Encourage Mental Health Disorders

Having a heightened appetite for erotic material has been associated with anxiety disorders. In addition, this hypersexual disorder may also cause mood disorders and even substance abuse challenges.

While this is merely speculative, there have also been links drawn to excessive pornographic consumption and erectile plus other sexual dysfunctions.

Treatment for Porn Addiction

Because compulsive porn consumption is not an official disorder, treatment options for this condition are not fully established. However, to manage the effects, many options have been adopted.

Medication

To manage erotic dependence, naltrexone may be recommended as a treatment measure. This medication is typically used to manage alcohol dependence and opioid addiction.

Naltrexone may be able to halt both the craving for porn and the satisfaction derived from consuming it.

Therapy

Speaking to a mental health professional is one of the most effective ways to get negative behaviors under control. In addition, using techniques such as family therapy and relationship counseling can help navigate this condition's intricacies.

Professional guidance can help with wading through the feelings of guilt and compulsion with porn consumption. It can also help to manage the emotional and intimacy challenges caused by the habit.

A Word From Verywell

Viewing porn excessively can easily be overlooked as a harmless way to indulge erotic urges. However, when these urges take a strong hold on freewill, demanding that they be fulfilled irrespective of comfort, this can be harmful for your well-being.

On the bright side, despite how dominating porn may appear, porn addicition can be managed with determination, and the right help from trusted professionals.

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