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Pornography addiction can have a number of undesirable effects. Addiction to porn affects not only the individual addicted to it, but the people that they’re romantically involved with, their friends, their family, and even society at large. 

Looking at the big picture, pornography addiction has changed the way that men and women interact on a global scale. Widespread porn use has influenced an entire generation and their sexual development and these effects continue to ripple forward. This article will explore some of the effects caused by porn addiction.

Porn addiction effects

Like any addiction, porn addiction is characterized by a number of undesirable effects. These effects are what separates porn addiction from recreational porn usage. This section of the article will explore some of the effects of porn addiction.

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Personal effects of porn addiction

The most obvious signs of porn addiction are those that affect the individual who is actually addicted. These are some examples of common problems caused by porn watching. These effects can be both physical and psychological in nature, and tend to impact the quality of the individual’s life.

Physical effects

Porn addiction is not like a drug addiction in the sense that it does not usually cause profound physical changes in biology. However, it may cause a few physical symptoms. Here are a few examples.

Changes in sexual function

One of the more obvious effects of porn addiction are changes in sexual function. These changes can affect both men and women.

For men, the most common sexual dysfunctions caused by porn addiction are erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Premature ejaculation can occur as a result of men trying to reach orgasm as quickly as possible. When men transition from watching porn, attempting to come quickly, to being physical with a partner, their body will be trained to ejaculate as quickly as possible. This is often before their partner can achieve satisfaction.

Men may also develop erectile dysfunction as a result of porn addiction. Porn often creates unrealistic expectations and standards. It is also a very cerebral, or mental, form of stimulation. This may make it difficult for men to get an erection when they are physically present with their partners.

Women can also develop some sexual dysfunctions from chronic porn use. It may become harder for them to become aroused.

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Physical injuries

Both men and women can be prone to developing injuries as a result of excessive porn use. If people are aggressively, frequently, or carelessly masturbating, this can lead to chafing, bruising, or other injuries of the skin in the genital area. These problems can be exacerbated if the individuals are using toys, especially if they are using toys that they’re not familiar with.

Psychological effects

Most of the side effects of pornography addiction or psychological in nature. This is generally the case with behavioural addictions. Here are some examples of common psychological symptoms associated with porn addiction.

  • Porn cravings. If you notice that you are frequently craving the use of pornography or masturbation, this is a sign of addiction.
  • Frequently thinking about pornography. If your mind is constantly occupied with thoughts of pornography, chances are your porn use has become compulsive and uncontrolled.
  • Changing your perception of sex. Frequent pornography use can completely alter your perception of sexual behaviour and what is acceptable. Excessive porn use may make people more prone to developing deviant or dangerous sexual behavior.
  • Difficulty enjoying hobbies or activities. People with any sort of behavioural addiction often develop problems with a part of the brain known as the dopamine system. This system is generally activated when we accomplish something that we enjoy or something that is healthy for us. 
  • The reason that it is triggered by porn and masturbation is because the brain does not make a distinction between us having sex or simulating sex. We can receive a rush of dopamine because the brain is trying to reward us for having sex and therefore reproducing.
  • If you watch porn or masturbate all the time, then it will become harder for you to receive dopamine as a reward for other activities. This can create a cycle of addiction, during which you find it necessary to engage in increasingly intense or frequent pornography use.

Social effects of porn addiction

Porn addiction can also affect the social life of an individual. Here are a few examples of how porn can change your social life.

  • Damaged friendships or amidst social opportunities. Many people with serious pornography addiction decide to opt out of social situations in order to go watch pornography. This can cause them to miss out on valuable social opportunities which can impede their growth as an individual and damage relationships.
  • Difficulty developing romantic relationships. Pornography addiction can cause people to hyper-sexualize others. This hyper-sexualization often becomes the foremost factor for people who are seeking relationships. This can cause them to seek out partners based on physical appearance or sexual performance rather than emotional or intimate components that can build a real relationship.
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How porn addiction affects society

Pornography doesn’t just affect the users. Pornography also has a fairly profound effect on society at large. Here are a few examples of how pornography has had an influence on society.

Hyper sexualization

Pornography and sexual media in general have had a profound impact on the way that people view sexuality. In the last several decades, sexuality has transitioned from something that was once held be sacred into something profane. 

Sex has become less about enjoyment and intimate connections and more about power, skill, and self-confidence. Now, more than ever before, people attach their self-esteem and self-confidence to their performance in bed, most of which is based on unrealistic performances that have been seen in pornography.

Changes in relationship dynamics

The widespread availability of pornography has changed the way that many people view their sexual relationships. For most of human history, sexuality was something that was hidden behind doors and only shared between the people having sex themselves. Now, with the availability of pornography, people have begun to develop unrealistic expectations of themselves and of their partners because of pornography.

Objectification

The porn industry makes a lot of money off the objectification of both men and women. Women are more susceptible to this objectification and this has created a large number of problems in society where women don’t receive the respect that they deserve.

Sexual immaturity

Many young men are first introduced to sexual behaviour through pornography. Because of this, many young men are robbed of the opportunity to begin exploring their sexuality in a healthy manner without the pressure of trying to live up to porn stars.

Because of this, many men and women reach sexual maturity in a state of confusion. This can have a profound impact on the individual relationship as well as communities and societies at large. In a quest to obtain sexual self-confidence based on pornographic standards, many men forgo the important aspects of a relationship, such as trust, communication, and commitment, in pursuit of sexual self-confidence.

Early age signs of pornography addiction

Porn addiction can often be difficult to identify, especially because it does not cause as many obvious behavioural or physical changes as drug addiction. Nonetheless, it’s important to be aware of some of the warning signs of pornography can be useful for helping to prevent an addiction from getting out of control.

Living a double life

One early sign of pornography addiction is the leading of a double life. Because of the taboo nature of pornography, many people do not wish to be open about their pornography use. 

Because of this, they may tell their friends, family, or partners that they don’t use pornography. However, behind closed doors, this is not the case. This deceitful and untruthful behaviour is one sign that pornography use has become a problem.

Changes in sexual behaviour

Younger people developing porn addictions may experience fairly drastic changes in their sexual behavior. They may go from being abstinent or completely uninterested in sex to suddenly deviant in their sexualityl. These spontaneous changes may indicate a pornography addiction, and if not nurtured in a healthy way could lead to potential difficulties in the future.

Porn addiction effects on the brain

Even though porn addiction doesn’t involve the ingestion of psychoactive chemicals, it can cause some pretty serious bio-chemical changes in the brain. These changes actually mimic a lot of the changes that are seen in the brains of drug addicts. These changes relate to the brain’s dopamine system. Your dopamine system is what your brain uses to keep you doing healthy things.

The main part of the dopamine system is known as the mesolimbic reward pathway. As the name implies, this system triggers into action when you do something that produces a rewarding sensation. The reward pathway is what motivates you to do things like exercise, eat healthy food, and have sex. All of these things are great for your well-being and make sure that you’re healthy and able to reproduce.

Unfortunately, because of the action on the reward system, all of these behaviours can be addictive. In the case of masturbation addiction and pornography addiction, you’re taking advantage of the fact that your brain is hardwired to produce feelings of pleasure when you have sex.

For the most part, pornography addiction is much more serious and problematic when masturbation is involved. This is generally the case, since very few people are addicted only to pornography without masturbation being involved. That’s not to say that there aren’t people who are addicted only to pornography. However, this addiction is generally the result of some sort of psychological or emotional problem. Watching pornography itself doesn’t produce much of a sensation of reward, and as such, doesn’t produce the same biochemical changes in the brain.

Masturbation, on the other hand, certainly does. Because your brain is hardwired to release dopamine at the moment of orgasm, it doesn’t really differentiate between masturbation and having sex. That means that a lot of the feelings you get after masturbating are really your brain trying to motivate and encourage you to have more sex.

In nature, animals go to great lengths, often risking life and limb, to have sex. They deserve the dopamine reward. However, if you’re just masturbating all the time, your brain can get overloaded with dopamine.

When this happens, your dopamine system responds by downregulating itself.

Downregulation is the process that your brain goes through when it’s overstimulated. Since your brain and body are always trying to find a state of harmony and balance, it has a number of mechanisms that prevent you from going too far out of balance. This means that when you’re constantly bombarding your brain with dopamine, it basically decreases the sensitivity of your dopamine system. In a healthy individual with sound mental health, this indication will allow them to step back from the addictive behaviour. However, the brains of an addict tends to work a bit differently. Rather than slowing down or stopping the behavior, they’ll just increase the amount of stimulation necessary to get the same domain response.

For porn and masturbation addicts, this generally means increasing the frequency of masturbation, watching more and more intense pornography, or using different tools and toys to increase the pleasure of masturbation.

This is how you end up falling into a downward cycle. As you work harder to produce the same dopamine rush, your brain works harder to down-regulate itself. Over a period of months or years, this downregulation can make it very difficult for you to experience any type of pleasure at all. At this stage, people often fall deep into addiction. Other things won’t provide them pleasure, and they begin to go to great lengths in order to masturbate or watch pornography because this is the only thing that makes them feel good.

These changes aren’t permanent, but they can take a while to undo. Once you stop masturbating and watching porn, your brain will start to resensitize itself. It might take a few weeks, or even months, but eventually you’ll be able to release dopamine and enjoy the pleasure associated with normal every day activities.

Porn addiction stages

Like most other addictions, porn addiction doesn’t happen immediately. It’s usually a gradual process that starts out fairly innocently. Here’s a basic outline of the stages of porn addiction.

Stage 1: experimentation

At this stage, people are first introduced to porn and find it enjoyable. They may start out watching porn once a month or even once a week. This may or may not be accompanied by masturbating.

Stage 2: regular use

At this stage, people have discovered that they are very fond of watching porn. They’ll begin watching it on a regular basis, several times a week or even every day. This stage isn’t necessarily problematic, however, if things don’t stop here they can lead to addiction.

Stage 3: habitual use

At this stage, people have developed a habit of watching porn. They may have a nightly ritual of watching it, and they spend a lot of time thinking about it when they’re not watching it. This is the stage at which people begin to sacrifice other parts of their life in order to watch porn.

Stage 4: addiction

When people become addicted to porn, their brain is going to start changing. At this stage, you’re beginning to alter the way your dopamine system works.You are becoming dependent on porn and may stop doing things that you used to enjoy. When people become addicted, they tend to require more and more intense porn to become aroused. They may also start using sex toys in order to get the same amount of pleasure.

What help is available?

Fortunately, there are lots of different resources available to help people work through porn addiction.

Counseling & therapy

Counselors and therapists specially trained in behavioural addictions can be useful for helping you overcome porn addiction. These counsellors will help walk you through the development of your addiction and help you figure out any underlying conditions that might be involved.

Support groups

Support groups allow you to connect with other people who also have porn or other sexual addictions. You’ll be able to connect with other people who have had similar problems so you don’t feel alone in your struggles.

Rehab

If you’re really struggling to manage your porn addiction, you might want to go to rehab. Rehab isn’t just for drug and alcohol users. There are many rehabs that also offer assistance for people with behavioural addictions. At a rehab center, you’ll probably be asked to hand in your phone. This reduces the chances of you watching porn while you’re there. Then, you’ll be connected with a therapist who can help walk you through your addiction and teach you the tools that you need to enjoy life without porn.

Conclusion

Porn addiction is a real problem that can cause bio-chemical changes in the brain just like drug and alcohol addiction. Fortunately, there are lots of tools and options available for anyone hoping to overcome their addiction.