Porn promises a world of endless sex in exchange for hijacking your sexual health. Watching isn’t worth retraining your brain to get aroused to airbrushed images on screen instead of real humans in reality.

As an anti-porn, pro-love, pro-healthy sex organization we’re used to getting some interesting arguments from people who just love to defend porn.

Just recently on our Twitter, we received a reply to one of our tweets that reflects how misinformed our society is about this issue:

tweeets

A lot of people today believe similarly to this tweeter, thinking that simple “self-control” or “not being stupid” will prevent a very real and very addicting habit from negatively affecting a consumer’s life.

Famous last words.

Make no mistake, science has proven that porn can actually change the brain of the consumer and create some seriously gnarly issues when it comes to their sex life. To show this, we recently received a pretty heartbreaking story, sent to us by a married woman who is witnessing firsthand what porn does to sex and relationships.

We took this story and then shared the actual science behind what is happening in her relationship and in thousands of others across the world. Check it out:

The Story

Dear FTND,

I just wanted to thank you for the work you do. In order to try and help the cause, I wanted to share my story with you.

As the partner of a porn addict, I’ve watched this epidemic destroy our relationship as well as my self-worth. I have zero self-esteem anymore. My partner used to say his habit “didn’t hurt anyone” and “didn’t change anything in our relationship,” but now he can’t even get aroused with me. He can only get aroused with porn.

The material he views is increasingly more extreme. I cannot compete with these porn stars he prefers over me. These women seemingly have no limits to what they will do. I have tried everything: from trying to act more like a porn star to trying more extreme acts, all to no avail. I will never measure up to the women he watches and our sex life is more than enough evidence to substantiate that fact. He doesn’t even turn his head to look when I’m naked and when I try to get him going, he can no longer get turned on, regardless of what I do. What is crazy is that he prefers me making videos that he can watch in private but he can’t even have sex with me in real life. How messed up is that?

He continues to deny that his porn is an issue, but it is. I have no self-esteem; every time I look in a mirror, all I see are flaws. Whenever we are out, all I see is how much prettier and better-built other women are compared to me. Whenever he is alone, I know he’s probably watching porn. The most hurtful of all is when we’re in bed and he is entirely disinterested and even admits that he is bored trying to get aroused.

Day after day, week after week, he makes zero attempts to initiate sex and even calls it a “chore” now, saying porn is “relaxing,” “less work,” and that he gets to “enjoy himself instead of having to focus on satisfying someone else” because it “gets old.” Ouch.

It hurts to be told that your partner no longer finds you attractive due to the fact that porn offers a continual new slew of fresh porn stars. He said that with me, “you can only ride the same roller coaster so many times before it gets boring.” It hurts to be told that my body can’t compete with the porn star girls with giant breasts and perfectly tanned bodies. I used to have confidence in my body and my appearance, I don’t anymore.

Five years ago we had a passionate, happy, loving relationship. Today, we’re just two strangers in the same house.

Thanks for the work you do. If you can even save one couple from this heartbreak by inspiring even ONE man or woman to not watch porn, you have made an incredible difference. I wish that someone could’ve inspired my partner back when his addiction began.

T.

The Science

So you’re probably asking at this point, how is it that someone who so compulsively needs to view sex on a computer screen has no interest in (and ability to have) sex in real life?

Time to drop some knowledge.

Porn promises a virtual world filled with sex—more sex and better sex. What it doesn’t mention, however, is that the further a porn consumer goes into that fantasy world, the more likely their reality is to become just the opposite. [1] Porn often leads to less sex and less satisfying sex. [2] And for many consumers, porn eventually means no sex at all. [3]

You see, your brain is full of nerve pathways that make up what scientists call your “brain map.” [4] It’s kind of like a hiking map in your head, with billions of tiny overlapping trails. These pathways connect different parts of your brain together, helping you make sense of your experiences and control your life.

When you have a sexual experience that feels good, your brain starts creating new pathways to connect what you’re doing to the pleasure you’re feeling. [5] Essentially, your brain is redrawing the sexual part of your map so you’ll be able to come back later and repeat the experience. [6] (See How Porn Affects The Brain Like a Drug ). The same thing happens the first time someone consume’s porn. The porn consumer’s brain starts building new pathways in response to this very powerful new experience. [7] It’s saying, “This feels great! Let’s do this again.”

But here’s the catch: brain maps operate on a “use it or lose it” principle. [8] Just like a hiking trail will start to grow over if it’s not getting walked on, brain pathways that don’t get traffic become weaker and can even be completely replaced by stronger pathways that get more use.

As you might expect, consuming porn is a very powerful experience that leaves a strong and lasting impression in the brain. (See How Porn Changes The Brain.) Every time someone consumes porn—especially if they heighten the experience by masturbating—the part of the brain map that connects arousal to porn is being strengthened. [9] Meanwhile, the pathways connecting arousal to things like seeing, touching, or cuddling with a partner aren’t getting used. Pretty soon, natural turn-ons aren’t enough, and many porn consumers find they can’t get aroused by anything but porn. [10]

Watching Isn’t Worth It

Study after study has shown that porn is directly related to problems with arousal, attraction, and sexual performance. [11] Porn leads to less sex and to less sexual satisfaction within a relationship. [12] Researchers have shown a strong connection between porn use and low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and trouble reaching orgasm. [13] Many frequent porn users reach a point where they have an easier time getting aroused by internet porn than by having actual sex with a real partner. [14] One recent study even concluded that porn use was likely the reason for low sexual desire among a random sample of high school seniors. [15] Whoever heard of that before?

To learn more about how porn can damage your sexual health, click here.

Basically, how ironic is it that watching other people have sex becomes the only thing that gets porn users aroused but then also robs them of their ability to have sex in real life?

Bottom line: watching just isn’t worth it.

What YOU Can Do

If you’re not cool with porn snatching all the love and intimacy out of relationships, SHARE this article to spread the facts on the harmful effects of porn.

Spark Conversations

This movement is all about changing the conversation about pornography and stopping the demand for sexual exploitation. 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:

Citations

[1] Cole, G. (2011). A Stange Invitation: On The Ordinary Problem Of Pornography. Studies In Gender And Sexuality, 12, 254-267. Doi:10.1080/15240657.2011.610240 (“Porn Tells Us It Is About Sex, But The Effect Of Porn Often Leads Away From Actually Having Sex With Another Person.”); Paul, P. (2010). From Pornography To Porno To Porn: How Porn Became The Norm. In J. Stoner And D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 3–20). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books.
[2] Bridges, A. J. (2010). Pornography’s Effect On Interpersonal Relationships. In J. Stoner And D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 89-110). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: Henry Hold And Co., 153; Zillmann, D. (2004). Pornografie. In R. Mangold, P. Vorderer, And G. Bente (Eds.) Lehrbuch Der Medienpsychologie (Pp.565–85). Gottingen, Germany: Hogrefe Verlag;
[3] 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; Voon, V., Et Al. (2014). Neural Correlates Of Sexual Cue Reactivity In Individuals With And Without Compulsive Sexual Behaviors, PLoS ONE, 9(7), E102419. Doi:10.1371/Journal.Pone.0102419; Kalman, T. P., (2008). Clinical Encounters With Internet Pornography, Journal Of The American Academy Of Psychoanalysis And Dynamic Psychiatry, 36(4), 593-618. Doi:10.1521/Jaap.2008.36.4.593; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books; Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: Henry Hold And Co., 105..
[4] 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; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books.
[5] 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; 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; 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; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books.
[6] 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, & Watts, C. (2011). Pornography Addiction: A Neuroscience Perspective, Surgical Neurology International 2, 19. Doi:10.4103/2152-7806.76977; Miner, M. H., Raymond, N., Mueller, B. A., Lloyd, M., Lim, K. O. (2009). Preliminary Investigation Of The Impulsive And Neuroanatomical Characteristics Of Compulsive Sexual Behavior. Psychiatry Research 174: 146–51. Doi:10.1016/J.Pscychresns.2009.04.008; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books; Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. (75) New York: Henry Hold And Co.
[7] 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; 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; 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(1507) 3245-3255. Doi:10.1098/Rstb.2008.0067
[8] Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books.
[9] 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. New York: Penguin Books.
[10] 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; 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; 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; Wang, Y., Ghezzi, A., Yin, J. C. P., & Atkinson, N. S. (2009). CREB Regulation Of BK Channel Gene Expression Underlies Rapid Drug Tolerance. Gene Brains Behavior, 8(4) 369-376. Doi:10.1111/J.1601-183X.2009.00479.X; Angres, D. H. & Bettinardi-Angres, K. (2008). The Disease Of Addiction: Origins, Treatment, And Recovery. Disease-A-Month 54: 696–721; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books.
[11] Carvalheira, A., Traeen, B., & Stulhofer, A. (2015). Masturbation And Pornography Use Among Coupled Heterosexual Men With Decreased Sexual Desire: How Many Roles Of Masturbations? Journal Of Sex And Marital Therapy, 41(6), 626-635. Doi:10.1080/0092623X.2014.958790; Voon, V., Et Al. (2014). Neural Correlates Of Sexual Cue Reactivity In Individuals With And Without Compulsive Sexual Behaviors, PLoS ONE, 9(7), E102419. Doi:10.1371/Journal.Pone.0102419; Sun, C., Bridges, A., Johnason, J., & Ezzell, M. (2014). Pornography And The Male Sexual Script: An Analysis Of Consumption And Sexual Relations. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 45(4), 1-12. Doi:10.1007/S10508-014-0391-2; Poulsen, F. O., Busby, D. M., & Galovan, A. M. (2013). Pornography Use: Who Uses It And How It Is Associated With Couple Outcomes. Journal Of Sex Research 50(1), 72-83. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2011.648027; Stewart, D. N., & Szymanski, D. M. (2012). Young Adult Women’s Reports Of Their Male Romantic Partner’s Pornography Use As A Correlate Of Their Self-Esteem, Relationship Quality, And Sexual Satisfaction. Sex Roles, 67(5-6), 257-274. Doi:10.1007/S11199-012-0164-0; Maddox, A. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone Or Together: Associations With Relationship Quality. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441-448. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9585-4; Morgan, E. M. (2011). Associations Between Young Adults’ Use Of Sexually Explicit Materials And Their Sexual Preferences, Behaviors, And Satisfaction. Journal Of Sex Research, 48,(6), 520-530. 8(6):520-30. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2010.543960; Janssen, E., & Bancroft, J. (2007). The Dual-Control Model: The Role Of Sexual Inhibition & Excitation In Sexual Arousal And Behavior. In Janssen, E. (Ed.), The Psychology Of Sex (Pp. 197-222). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press; Zillman, D., & Bryant, J. (2006). Pornography’s Impact On Sexual Satisfaction. Journal Of Applied Social Psychology, 18(5), 438-453. Doi:10.1111/J.1559-1816.1988.Tb00027.X
[12] Minarcik, J., Wetterneck, C. T., & Short, M. B. (2016). The Effects Of Sexually Explicit Material Use On Romantic Relationship Dynamics. Journal Of Behavioral Addictions, 5(4) 700-707. Doi: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.078; Doran, K., & Price, J. (2014). Pornography And Marriage. Journal Of Family And Economic Issues, 35(4), 489-498. Doi:10.1007/S10834-014-9391-6; Sun, C., Bridges, A., Johnason, J., & Ezzell, M. (2014). Pornography And The Male Sexual Script: An Analysis Of Consumption And Sexual Relations. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 45(4), 1-12. Doi:10.1007/S10508-014-0391-2; Poulsen, F. O., Busby, D. M., & Galovan, A. M. (2013). Pornography Use: Who Uses It And How It Is Associated With Couple Outcomes. Journal Of Sex Research 50(1), 72-83. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2011.648027; Maddox, A. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone Or Together: Associations With Relationship Quality. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441-448. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9585-4; Morgan, E. M. (2011). Associations Between Young Adults’ Use Of Sexually Explicit Materials And Their Sexual Preferences, Behaviors, And Satisfaction. Journal Of Sex Research, 48,(6), 520-530. 8(6):520-30. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2010.543960; Yucel, D., & Gassanov, M. A. (2010). Exploring Actor And Partner Correlates Of Sexual Satisfaction Among Married Couples. Social Science Research, 39725-738. Doi:10.1016/J.Ssresearch.2009.09.002
[13] Wery, A., & Billieux, J. (2016). Online Sexual Activities: An Exploratory Study Of Problematic And Non-Problematic Usage Patterns In A Sample Of Men. Computers In Human Behavior, 56, 257-266. Doi:10.1016/J.Chb.2015.11.046; Sutton, K. S., Stratton, N., Pytyck, J., Kolla, N. J., & Cantor, J. M. (2015). Patient Characteristics By Type Of Hypersexuality Referral: A Quantitative Chart Review Of 115 Consecutive Male Cases. Journal Of Sex And Marital Therapy, 41(6), 563-580. Doi:10.1080/0092623X.2014.935539; Carvalheira, A., Traeen, B., & Stulhofer, A. (2015). Masturbation And Pornography Use Among Coupled Heterosexual Men With Decreased Sexual Desire: How Many Roles Of Masturbations? Journal Of Sex And Marital Therapy, 41(6), 626-635. Doi:10.1080/0092623X.2014.958790; Voon, V., Et Al. (2014). Neural Correlates Of Sexual Cue Reactivity In Individuals With And Without Compulsive Sexual Behaviors, PLoS ONE, 9(7), E102419. Doi:10.1371/Journal.Pone.0102419; Janssen, E., & Bancroft, J. (2007). The Dual-Control Model: The Role Of Sexual Inhibition & Excitation In Sexual Arousal And Behavior. In Janssen, E. (Ed.), The Psychology Of Sex (Pp. 197-222). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press;
[14] Voon, V., Et Al. (2014). Neural Correlates Of Sexual Cue Reactivity In Individuals With And Without Compulsive Sexual Behaviors, PLoS ONE, 9(7), E102419. Doi:10.1371/Journal.Pone.0102419; Sun, C., Bridges, A., Johnason, J., & Ezzell, M. (2014). Pornography And The Male Sexual Script: An Analysis Of Consumption And Sexual Relations. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 45(4), 1-12. Doi:10.1007/S10508-014-0391-2; Kalman, T. P., (2008). Clinical Encounters With Internet Pornography, Journal Of The American Academy Of Psychoanalysis And Dynamic Psychiatry, 36(4), 593-618. Doi:10.1521/Jaap.2008.36.4.593
[15] Damiano, P., Alessandro, B., & Carlo, F. (2015). Adolescents And Web Porn: A New Era Of Sexuality. International Journal Of Adolescent Medicine And Health, 28(2), 169-173. Doi:10.1515/Ijamh-2015-0003

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