The majority of our society is filled with people who don’t see the big deal with watching pornography, and don’t consider it to be an unhealthy habit at all.

These people also might not know or don’t generally care about the research showing its harmful effects. They might say that porn is natural and that it’s a simple “free expression of sexuality.” Other pro-porn defenders say that porn can help “spice up a relationship” and that it’s a great thing for “couples to watch together.”

And then there’s the porn producers and companies who will say just about anything to get you to watch their content. They’ll tell you that porn is awesome entertainment and that there’s zero harm in it. They’ll even go so far as one major porn website did when it vowed to help save the whales by donating for every 2,000 videos watched, trying to convince viewers that charity is a focus of theirs. And they’ll do this, all while hosting porn genres like “teen crying,” and “painal.” Classy.

Related: Debunking The Popular Myth That Porn Can Be Healthy

The point is, these generally uninformed people and shady companies try to make it seem like watching porn is healthy or a generally good thing, and that porn and real love can comfortably coexist. Their reasoning is that since sex and love are natural human experiences, that must mean porn is healthy too, right?

With all these differing opinions, it is easy to get mixed up and fall into the trap of believing that a porn habit won’t hurt anyone, or that watching only a certain type of porn is no big deal.

We’re here to bring up the research that shows how porn really can harm the the viewer, their relationships, and the world. Spoiler alert: there is no such thing as a healthy “type” or dosage of pornography.

Science Of Addiction

One of the main reasons that porn is unhealthy is because it can change and rewire the brain. Allow us to explain.

Neuroscientific studies have shown how pornography can activate dopamine response in your brain, and trigger addictive habits. Here’s what happens: if you’re reading this, your brain comes equipped with something called a “reward center.” [1] Its job is to motivate you to do things that protect and promote your survival—things like eating to stay alive or having sex. [2] The way it rewards you for doing those things is by flooding your brain with dopamine and a cocktail of other “pleasure” chemicals each time you do. [3]

Dopamine is a feel-good hormone that is released when we do things that trigger the brain’s reward response, like eating a delicious piece of cake or riding a roller coaster. Activities like these make you feel good, dopamine is released, and your brain reinforces the behavior so it can remind you to get that reward again. This process happens with healthy things like going to a concert or playing your favorite sport, but it also happens with not-so-good things like using drugs or in this case, watching porn.

Related3 Lies Most People Believe About Porn And The Brain

When porn enters the brain, it triggers the reward center to start pumping out dopamine, which sets off a cascade of chemicals including a protein called DeltaFosB. [4] DeltaFosB’s regular job is to build new nerve pathways to mentally connect what you’re doing (i.e. the porn you watch) to the pleasure you feel. [5] Those strong new memories outcompete other connections in the brain, making it easier and easier to return to porn. [6]

But DeltaFosB has another job, and this is why its nickname is “the molecular switch for addiction.” [7] If enough DeltaFosB builds up, it flips a genetic switch, causing lasting changes in the brain that leave the user more vulnerable to addiction. [8] For teens, this risk is especially high because a teen brain’s reward center responds two to four times more powerfully than an adult’s brain, releases higher levels of dopamine and produces more DeltaFosB. [9]

And to feel the same level of arousal as they did in the beginning, viewers start watching more porn, more often, and with more hardcore material. It’s important to know that the brain also releases dopamine when it sees something strange, new, or shocking. That’s why many viewers find themselves looking for harder and harder images just to get that same pleasurable feeling they originally felt with “softer” versions of porn.

Related: Pain Porn: Why Half Of Adults Think Violent Porn Is Okay

Bottom line: no type or amount of porn is healthy porn. Porn is also great at creating unrealistic expectations for relationships, so viewers don’t feel like real potential partners can match up to what they’ve seen on screen.

Not healthy, and not worth it.

How Porn Kills Love

Studies show that exposure to pornography can lead to a decreased interest in committed relationships and less satisfaction for those who are in one. This is because porn strips away the deeply emotional and selfless connection that intimacy creates, and replaces it with selfish desire. It creates the perception that love isn’t really love if you can’t satisfy your own sexual desires. There are forums all over the internet with people saying that they can’t be sexually satisfied without porn. We think these people are missing out on the joys of a real life connection with a real person.

What about those people who say it’s okay to view porn with a partner to “spice things up”? The truth is coming out in studies, which show that what really happens is that the viewer ends up trying to imitate what they’ve seen in porn and comparing their partner to it, creating dissatisfaction and disconnection during sex.

Even worse, ever heard of porn-induced erectile dysfunction? It’s a real thing and it’s becoming more and more common amongst frequent porn viewers as young as twenty-one.

Related: My Husband Has Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction & Refuses To Have Sex With Me

Talk about taking the spice right out of your relationship.

None of this sounds healthy. Does only being able to be sexually aroused from what’s made up of pixels on a screen sound sexy to you?

Why This Matters

Those who think porn is a harmless and natural expression of sexuality have a tendency to stereotype those that think differently as radical crazy people. We’re here to say the harmful effects of porn are not based on religion, or politics, or anything else.

This is about science and research.

The bottom line is, no matter what porn defenders try and tell society, the stuff isn’t natural, it isn’t healthy, and it most definitely is not love. Just look at the facts.

What YOU Can Do

Help spread the word about the harmful effects of pornography and raise awareness on the misinformation being sold to society. SHARE this article and be part of this movement to stop the demand for porn.

Spark Conversations

This movement is all about changing the conversation about pornography. When you rep a tee, you can spark meaningful conversation on porn’s harms and inspire lasting change in individuals’ lives, and our world. Are you in? Check out all our styles in our online store, or click below to shop:

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Citations

[1] National Institute On Drug Abuse: The Reward Pathway. (2016). Retrieved From Http://Www.Drugabuse.Gov/Publications/Teaching-Packets/Understanding-Drug-Abuse-Addiction/Section-I/4-Reward-Pathway; Volkow, N. D., & Morales, M. (2015). The Brain On Drugs: From Reward To Addiction. Cell, 162 (8), 712-725. Doi:10.1016/J.Cell.2015.07.046; Pitchers, K. K., Et Al. (2013). Natural And Drug Rewards Act On Common Neural Plasticity Mechanisms With DeltaFosB As A Key Mediator. Journal Of Neuroscience, 33 (8), 3434-3442. Doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4881-12.2013
[2] Berridge, K. C., & Robinson, T. E. (2016). Liking, Wanting, And The Incentive-Sensitization Theory Of Addiction. American Psychologist, 71(8), 670-679. Doi:10.1037/Amp0000059; Berridge, K.C., & Kringelbach, M. L. (2015). Pleasure Systems In The Brain. Neuron, 86, 646-664. Doi:10.1016/J.Neuron.2015.02.018; Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. (75) New York: Henry Hold And Co.; Hyman, S. E. (2005). Addiction: A Disease Of Learning And Memory. American Journal Of Psychiatry, 162(8), 1414-1422.
[3] Volkow, N. D., & Morales, M. (2015). The Brain On Drugs: From Reward To Addiction. Cell, 162 (8), 713. Doi:10.1016/J.Cell.2015.07.046
[4] Negash, S., Van Ness Sheppard, N., Lambert, N. M., & Fincham, F. D. (2016). Trading Later Rewards For Current Pleasure: Pornography Consumption And Delay Discounting. The Journal Of Sex Research, 53(6), 698-700. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2015.1025123; Nestler, E. J., (2008) Transcriptional Mechanisms Of Addiction: Role Of DeltaFosB, Philosophical Transactions Of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 363(1507) 3245-3255. Doi:10.1098/Rstb.2008.0067
[5] Park, B. Y., Et Al. (2016). Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review With Clinical Reports. Behavioral Sciences, 6, 17. Doi:10.3390/Bs6030017; Pitchers, K. K., Et Al. (2013). Natural And Drug Rewards Act On Common Neural Plasticity Mechanisms With DeltaFosB As A Key Mediator. Journal Of Neuroscience, 33(8), 3434-3442. Doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4881-12.2013; Hilton, D. L. (2013) Pornography Addiction—A Supranormal Stimulus Considered In The Context Of Neuroplasticity. Socioaffective Neuroscience And Technology 3. 20767. Doi:10.3402/Snp.V3i0.20767; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. (208-209) New York: Penguin Books.
[6] Park, B. Y., Et Al. (2016). Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review With Clinical Reports. Behavioral Sciences, 6, 17. Doi:10.3390/Bs6030017; Nestler, E. J., (2015). Role Of The Brain’s Reward Circuitry In Depression: Transcriptional Mechanism. International Review Of Neurobiology, 124: 151-170. Doi:10.1016/Bs.Irn.2015.07.003; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books, 108.
[7] Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience Of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review And Update, Behavioral Sciences, 5(3), 388-433. Doi: 10.3390/Bs5030388
[8] Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience Of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review And Update, Behavioral Sciences, 5(3), 388-433. Doi: 10.3390/Bs5030388; Hilton, D. L. (2013). Pornography Addiction—A Supranormal Stimulus Considered In The Context Of Neuroplasticity. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, 3, 20767. Doi:10.3402/Snp.V3i0.20767; Nestler, E. J. (2008). Transcriptional Mechanisms Of Addiction: Role Of DeltaFosB. Philosophical Transactions Of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 363: 3245–56. Retrieved From Www.Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov/Pmc/Articles/PMC2607320/; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books, 107.
[9] Volkow, N. D., Koob, G. F., & McLellan, A. T. (2016). Neurobiological Advances From The Brain Disease Model Of Addiction. New England Journal Of Medicine, 374: 363-371. Doi:10.1056/NEJMra1511480; Sturman, D., & Moghaddam, B. (2011). Reduced Neuronal Inhibition And Coordination Of Adolescent Prefrontal Cortex During Motivated Behavior. The Journal Of Neuroscience 31, 4: 1471-1478. Doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4210-10.2011; Ehrlich, M. E., Sommer, J., Canas, E., & Unterwald, E. M. (2002). Periadolescent Mice Show Enhanced DeltaFosB Upregulation In Response To Cocaine And Amphetamine. The Journal Of Neuroscience 22(21). 9155–9159. Retrieved From Http://Www.Jneurosci.Org/Content/22/21/9155

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