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5 Ways Porn Can Negatively Affect Your Brain, Body, and Quality of Life

By March 31, 2021No Comments
This article was originally published in the Elephant Journal by J.K Emezi, a certified addiction recovery professional. It has been edited for content and clarity.
5 Ways Porn Can Harm Your Brain, Body, and Quality of Life

by J.K Emezi

The internet is a double-edged sword.

On one hand, it has revolutionized our world, allowing people to communicate, gain knowledge, save time, and entertain in ways our grandparents could only imagine in their wildest fantasies.

On the other hand, it has become a conduit for some of the most primal desires and emotions we have as humans. Technology has also led many—especially the millennial generation—to become absolutely dependent on it to fulfill these emotions.

Of all the desires that the internet fuels, the desire for synthetic sex is, seemingly, by far the most lucrative, sought after, and abused desire of all.

Let’s face it: right now pornography, unfortunately, is the king of the internet.

Related: Can Watching Porn Be Healthy For You?

One of the most unfortunate byproducts of internet pornography is its crippling effects on men and women. I spent 13 years of my young adult life addicted to pornography. While I didn’t watch it every day, I estimate that I spent over 20 hours a week on it. These days, as an addiction recovery professional, I spend triple that amount of time each week working with men who are hooked on porn.

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Some are as young as 16, while others are in their sixties and still unable to ditch pornography for good.

Make no assumptions, this is not a small sub-section of men and women. There are literally thousands of people who struggle with quitting watching porn, once it takes over their lives.

More alarmingly, porn is actually changing consumers’ brains and bodies for the worse.

Related29 Scientific Studies on Porn Use and The Brain

Our mothers and fathers never had to deal with high-speed internet and easy access to porn. Porn has never even been as hardcore as it is today. And today, most children are exposed to pornography by the age of 11, and many of them are hooked on it by the time they are 12 years old. And the long-term effects aren’t worth the short-term thrill.

Here, I’m going to break down a few of the ways in which pornography erodes our humanity and hurts our bodies and minds. Let’s get started:

1. Porn encourages self-gratification

Problem: Delayed gratification is a crucial skill to learn if one is to maintain control and direction in their life. Basically, the healthiest of individuals have mastered the art of discipline and delayed gratification.

Repeatedly giving into the urge to watch pornography leads to a lack of ability to delay gratification. Your brain becomes more and more focused on the things you find pleasurable and the discipline of delayed gratification falls to the wayside.

It is no coincidence that people who are hooked on porn might be radically underachieving in other areas of their lives.

Solution: Developing delayed gratification is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. There is a certain sense of superiority and confidence that comes with the realization that you have more control over your primal desires than the average person. Mastery of any worthwhile skill or habit leads to increased confidence. The ability to delay gratification is no different.

RelatedIs There Such A Thing As A Healthy Amount of Porn?

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2. Porn destroys our values

Problem: Video is powerful. We live in a world where we need to see something to believe it and in our fast-paced, information-driven world, video is the preferred means of communication and information dissemination.

The thing is, video has the power to influence and even replace behaviors in your mind without you being consciously aware of what you are seeing. Scary, right?

Related: An Inside Look At The Lives Of 5 Guys Who Have Given Up Porn

As you watch videos, your subconscious mind is rapidly dissecting, translating and making sense of what it is being fed. The research has found that the subconscious mind translates and subsequently changes our behavior in one disturbing way:

Pornography programs us to lower our standards sexually. It encourages us to seek sex and, in some cases, build intimate and unhealthy relationships with people who are willing to have sex without any boundaries. As exciting as that sounds, having sex with anyone who is available can be a sign of someone without much discipline.

A truly mature person at some point in their life must have control over their sexuality. You should not be a slave to your sexual desire—instead, you should master and control it.

In addition to that, hundreds of hours of porn create certain expectations of what sex looks like. The average 16-year-old consuming pornography is literally getting his or her sex education from the videos he/she watches. And that’s not good, especially because porn sells a warped fantasy and exaggerated reality of what real sex is like.

Solution: You are what you eat. Eat processed, sugary, or junk food and you’ll feel bad physically and eventually look unhealthy. You can make a decision today to feed your mind only with material which makes you a more respectful, healthy person.

Related: How Porn Warps Ideas About Sex

3. Porn can cause erectile dysfunction

Problem: This one is specifically for guys. Virility is important for almost every guy I know. The rise in porn-induced erectile dysfunction is something to be alarmed about. Frequently watching porn can lead to erections which can increasingly only be induced by hardcore pornography. That’s not healthy.

Porn consumption then becomes a sort of psychological conditioning which creates performance anxiety. Yikes.

Solution: Need I say more? No man wants to kill their sexual health. Consuming porn, it turns out, can be one of the most sex-negative things a guy can do, while not watching porn can be really sex-positive.

RelatedPIED 101: The Science Behind Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction

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4. Porn encourages social isolation

Problem: Watching porn, in most cases, demands isolation. Anything that consumers do in secrecy usually leads to shame. One of the first effects of frequently watching porn for men and women, especially those who are young, is social awkwardness in public, which ironically, leads to more shame and hiding.

Isolation and shame make it difficult for us as people to share true intimacy with others. And it makes it difficult to truly grow and mature as a person, and reach our full potential as people.

Solution: Many people are already afflicted by shame and the depression that porn can bring. If consumers find that their pornography habit has dulled their desire to be social, it can be difficult to jump-start a social life. Thankfully, the internet can help. Some social sites are a great way for the former “porn-hermit” to begin meeting people again. The long-term goal would be transitioning to building healthy romantic relationships and friendships.

Related: Why The Goal Of The Phrase “Porn Kills Love” Isn’t To Shame

5. Porn doesn’t inspire goal setting

Problem: In my practice, I have never met someone hooked on porn who excelled at goal setting. As I stated earlier, most people who abuse pornography usually also struggle in their finances, relationships, and careers. It’s no coincidence.

The aforementioned “self-gratification” is a habit that cannot coexist with achieving worthy, difficult goals.

People don’t “schedule” pornography consumption the way they schedule time to work on their business or complete projects. It’s usually, “I’m going to watch porn from now till… my body shuts down sexually or I get bored.” Part of this is biological.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (a chemical released by nerve cells to transmit signals to other nerve cells.) It’s a key player in the part of our brain responsible for reward-motivated behavior.

Related: Not All Porn Is Consensual. Don’t Believe It? Just Ask These Performers.

Sex, eating tasty food, getting approval (“likes” on social media) all trigger the release of dopamine.

The more often porn is watched, the more often our brains are flooded with dopamine. Consumers slowly become desensitized to its effects and need more stimulation to “feel the rush” or “get a fix.”

This means that their reward circuitry can fundamentally change.

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This reward circuitry is crucial in achievements that are truly valuable in a person’s life, such as, contributing in a meaningful way to society, developing a highly sought-after skill, building a family, maintaining friendships, building a business, competing in sports or excelling in a career.

Porn can destroy the ability to set, achieve, and enjoy big goals. Any momentary pleasure isn’t worth that.

Solution: The simplest solution to this is to become a master of the “to-do” list and rewarding yourself. For those struggling with porn, every night, before bed, write out a list of everything you need to accomplish the next day in order of importance. The next day, proceed to knock everything out on the list. Whatever is left over goes on the list for the next day. The key is rewarding yourself for accomplishing tasks on your lists. Of course, the reward can’t be porn, but it should be something you enjoy doing leisurely. Use the activities that usually get in the way of your goals as rewards.

Related: 10 Big Differences Between Healthy Sex And The Sex Porn Portrays

If you’ve been struggling with an intense pornography habit and trying to quit to no avail, it may be time to take an honest look at your relationship with pornography. There are many more ways that pornography erodes at your entire person, leaving you weak, confused and unsure about any direction in life. Do yourself a favor and ditch the porn. It could be hindering you from living your life to the fullest.

J.K. Emezi is a certified addiction recovery professional specializing in sex and pornography addiction. You can find his work at Elevated Recovery and check out his Youtube Channel for more info.

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Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out our friends at Fortify, a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography. Fortify now offers a free experience for both teens and adults. Connect with others, learn about your compulsive behavior, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

About the Author

J.K. Emezi is a certified addiction recovery professional specializing in sex and pornography addiction. You can find his work at Elevated Recovery and check out his Youtube Channel.

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