The Shocking Effect Watching Porn Has On Your Health

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Relativity Media

Boys discover porn aged just 10, on average, yet most start puberty at 12 years old.

This means millions of guys across the globe are beginning their sexual journeys in an online world, so far from real-life intimacy, that by the time they become sexually active their brains have already been warped. And how would they know any better?

Since the advent of high speed, free streaming porn in 2006, men and boys have taken to online forums with unexplained erectile dysfunction and low libido.

Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Don Jon is all about porn addiction…

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Other key effects of porn overuse include delayed ejaculation, morphed sexual tastes, poor working memory, social anxiety, decreased motivation, and difficulty sleeping.

You may be quick to dismiss the idea that your porn use has any effect on your brain or body, but Gary Wilson, the author of Your Brain On Porn, has a great metaphor to explain how hard it is to step back from your own situation.

During his eye-opening TED talk, Gary explains that asking how guys thought porn affected them was like asking a fish what it thinks of water.

If you’re surrounded by something for so long, you’re unlikely to notice it, and might not remember what you were like before.

Ph.D. in neuroscience, Dr. Voon

Speaking to UNILAD, Gary Wilson said:

Eating junk food is normalised, just as smoking was once. It takes decades to fully understand the risks of these normalised phenomena. We are just seeing the front edge of the results of growing up streaming unlimited sexual novelty, and the potential to escalate to increasingly extreme material.

No one fully knows the effects yet. Interestingly, there’s a large and growing international movement of (largely) non-religious young men eliminating porn because of the benefits their peers report.

I spoke to former porn addict and YouTuber Gabe Deem who makes videos supporting others trying to ‘reboot’ their brains from porn overuse.

Gabe explained porn’s potential to rewire the brain’s arousal circuitry in terms of desire, causing it to become aroused by pixels on a screen as opposed to real people.

This can be compared to the famous experiment by Ivan Pavlov in which he conditioned his dog to salivate for food at the sound of a bell. Only here men become sexually conditioned to think their phones and computers mean sex, and eventually may not become as excited or aroused by the real thing.

In terms of Pavlov’s dog, in Gabe’s words, ‘the guy just ejaculates into a napkin with his pants around his ankles’.

Gabe told UNILAD:

The physical symptoms that can arise from porn use are: erectile dysfunction, where your penis works with porn, but not with a real person; delayed ejaculation, where it takes a guy forever to cum, or it is impossible, and he has to finish himself off with his own hand, or may have to think about porn to climax. If you’re no longer pitching a tent in the morning that could be a red flag that you’re developing a problem.

Mental effects include: morphing sexual tastes (escalating into new, more extreme genres to achieve the same neurochemical high), brain fog (poor working memory), difficulty concentrating, lethargy/low motivation, increased social anxiety, difficulty sleeping.

Here’s Gabe speaking on Chelsea Handler’s Netflix talk show…

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The scientific phenomenon of the Coolidge effect is at play when it comes to male porn overuse: male animals exhibit renewed sexual interest when presented with a brand new sexual partner as opposed to his dwindling sexual excitement for sex multiple times with the same partner.

When you’re watching porn, there can be countless videos under countless tabs. A seemingly bottomless pit of erotic sensory overload ranging in their extremity.

How can one real-life person even come close that level of dopamine release?

In his TED Talk, Gary explains the chemical change that takes place in the brain when someone is addicted to anything, including porn.

Gary Wilson

First there are dopamine surges that come from excess consumption, followed by the accumulation of brain chemical Delta-FosB (important in the formation of addictions) which promotes a cycle of binging and craving.

If the binging continues, then the Delta FosB builds up and can lead to brain changes seen in all addicts including a numbed pleasure response, hyper-reactivity to porn (where everything else in life seems boring, but porn is extremely exciting), and will-power erosion.

Some sources suggest the Delta FosB build up declines around the sixth to eighth week of abstinence from porn which makes sense to why a lot of men see big improvements once they get to the eight week mark.

Gary Wilson

Porn overuse creates the same physical changes in the brain as food, heroin, or any other addiction.

It’s difficult to know how much is too much because excess consumption of porn is something that is dependent on an individual’s tolerance and brain chemistry.

The best way to find out if (and how) it is affecting you is to try cutting it out for a few months and observing any changes.

Recovery from the symptoms of porn overuse takes about five to seven months for young men, or as little as two months for older men. Men in their early twenties aren’t regaining their erectile health as quickly as older guys because they started watching high-speed porn when their brains were at peak dopamine production and neuroplasticity, while older men were exposed to it at a later stage of life.

Your Brain On Porn

Gary told UNILAD:

Honestly, no chronic porn user knows how it’s affecting him until he gives it up for a substantial period of time. A 25-year old who has been masturbating every day to porn since age 12 may never know what he would have been like without it. Others may not be much affected at all.

Don’t wait for experts to tell you the effects of internet porn use. As with smoking, it may be
decades before those effects are accurately known. If you think you may be affected, make your own experiment by eliminating porn use for a few months.

If you’re not sure your sexual function has been affected because you aren’t having partnered sex, try masturbating with porn, and on another occasion try masturbating without porn, porn substitutes, or recalling porn. If your erection and arousal are not there on the second occasion, you may be developing a problem.

For many guys, the effect of porn on their life only comes into question when a deteriorating personal relationship forces them to reflect.

While interviewing the experts, it became obvious that people are becoming too dependent on porn to be able to function sexually, taking away from real-life intimacy, and putting a big strain on relationships.

In addition to the physical effects on men, there are important social and mental consequences that come from modern porn.

How often have you seen heterosexual porn that is focused on female pleasure?

Internet addiction specialist and psychotherapist Todd L. Love explains:

Beyond the argument of addiction, it seems undeniable that regular viewing of porn creates unrealistic expectations for their performance abilities, the other person’s role (assuming hetero, the female body), and what are ‘normal’ activities, as well as their own bodies (all guys have huge penises).

Young guys may go into counselling feeling confused and guilty about having engaged in some of the more physically aggressive ‘techniques’ they regularly viewed in porn (choking, gagging, or otherwise being sexually aggressive with their girlfriends). But they did it because that’s what they grew up watching, not necessarily because they are inherently angry with females.

Similarly, young women are going into counselling feeling confused about what they have done, or feel that they are required to do, in order to please their boyfriends. Many are intuitively aware that some of the actions are not ‘normal’ sex acts, but nobody has told them so, so they engaged at their own physical and emotional discomfort.

A study from the University of Nebraska reads: ‘They found those who saw porn young were most likely to agree with statements that asserted male dominance, such as things tend to be better when men are in charge’.

Your Brain On Porn

There is a NoFap community of ‘Fapstronauts‘ and pages and pages of reboot stories. One 24-year-old who has been porn-free for six months explains that despite experiencing highs and lows, he has improved clarity of mind, freedom from guilt and shame, increased confidence, motivation, self worth, emotional wealth, creativity, and arousal.

Advice for those who want to quit porn is to exercise, socialise, meditate, and seek support from others who are attempting the same.

Further benefits of giving up porn, reported by those who have succeeded include: remission of sexual problems, increased energy, reduced social anxiety, improved mood, reduced depression, viewing women more positively, and a greater desire to be in a loving relationship.

Relativity Media

Porn essentially takes the natural human desire and drive for sexual pleasure and intimacy away from people, and directs it at a screen.

For some, porn use won’t hugely affect your life, but if you’re going to spend hours of your life doing something, it’s worth educating yourself about it.

Porn addiction awareness is on the rise, even if you’re not. Visit Porn Help, Reboot Nation, or NoFap for more information and support.