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- Negative Body Image and Pressure to Perform Pornographic Acts: As a result of viewing pornography, women reported lowered body image, criticism from their partners regarding their bodies, increased pressure to perform acts seen in pornographic films, and less actual sex. Men reported being more critical of their partner’s body and less interested in actual sex.[i]
- Acceptance of Rape Myths: Women who were exposed to pornography as children were more likely to accept rape myths and to have sexual fantasies that involved rape.[ii]
- Domestic Violence & Sexual Abuse: The use of pornography by batterers significantly increased a battered woman’s odds of being sexually abused. Pornography use alone increased the odds by a factor of almost 2, and the combination of pornography and alcohol increased the odds of sexual abuse by a factor of 3.[iii] Other research has found that pornography use by batters is associated with learning about sex through pornography, imitation of behaviors seen in pornography, comparison of women to pornography performers, introduction of other sexual partners, filming sexual acts without consent, and the broader culture of pornography (e.g. fetishes).[iv]
- Increased Marital Rape: Males who use pornography and go to strip clubs were found to engage in more sexual abuse, stalking, and marital rape than abusers who do not use pornography and go to strip clubs.[v]
[i] Julie M. Albright, “Sex in America Online: An Exploration of Sex, Marital Status, and Sexual Identity in Internet Sex Seeking and Its Impacts,” Journal of Sex Research 45 (2008): 175–186.
[ii] Shawn Corne, John Briere, and Lillian M. Esses, “Women’s Attitudes and Fantasies about Rape as a Function of Early Exposure to Pornography,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 7, no. 4 (1992): 454–461.
[iii] Janet Hinson Shope, “When Words Are Not Enough: The Search for the Effect of Pornography on Abused Women,” Violence Against Women 10, no. 1 (2004): 56–72.
[iv] Walter S. DeKeseredy and Amanda Hall-Sanchez, “Adult Pornography and Violence against Women in the Heartland: Results from a Rural Southeast Ohio Study,” Violence against Women (May 2016), 1–20.
[v] C. Simmons, P. Lehmann, and S. Collier-Tenison, “Linking Male Use of the Sex Industry to Controlling Behaviors in Violent Relationships: An Exploratory Analysis,” Violence Against Women 14, no. 4 (2008): 406–417.
- Lower Sexual Satisfaction and Sexual Dysfunction: A 2015 study of online sexual activities among males found 20.3% reported that “one motive for their porn use was to maintain arousal with their partner.” It also found that pornography use was linked to higher sexual desire, but lower overall sexual satisfaction, and lower erectile function.[i] Other research has correlated pornography use with “negative effects on partnered sex, decreased enjoyment of sexual intimacy, less sexual and relationship satisfaction.”[ii]
- Negative Body Image: A 2015 study found that men’s frequency of pornography use is positively linked to body image insecurity regarding muscularity and body fat, and to increased anxiety in romantic relationships.[iii]
- Pornography Induced Erectile Dysfunction: Historically, ED has been viewed as an age-dependent problem, with rates in men ages 18–59 as low as 2–5%.[iv] In the early 2000s, the Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behavior (GSSAB) reported that the ED rate among men aged 40–80 was approximately 13%.[v] In 2011, among males aged 18–40 the GSSAB found ED rates of 14-28%.[vi] This dramatic increase in ED rates among young men coincides with the sharp increase in the availability and accessibility of Internet pornography tube sites.[vii]
- A 2-year longitudinal study of sexually active young males aged 16–21 published in 2016, found that over several checkpoints during the 2 years, they reported:
- low sexual satisfaction (47.9%)
- low desire (46.2%)
- problems in erectile function (45.3%)[viii]
- Another study reported that one in four patients seeking medical help for new onset ED were under 40, with severe ED rates being 10% higher than those in men over 40.[ix]
- A study on men (mean age 36) seeking help for excessive sexual behavior—frequent use of pornography and masturbation—found that ED combined with low desire for partnered sex is a common observation in clinical practice.[x]
- A study examining subgroups of men struggling with sexual compulsivity, found that among those who reported seven or more hours of pornography viewing (or seven episodes of masturbation) per week, 71% reported sexual dysfunctions, and 33% reported delayed ejaculation.[xi]
- A Cambridge University study that was evenly divided between men with compulsive sexual behavior and those without, found that 84% of those with CSB experienced diminished libido or erectile function in physical relationships with women.[xii]
- Correlated to Male Sexual Objectification of Women and Attitudes Supporting Violence Against Women: Among collegiate men, frequency of exposure to men’s lifestyle magazines, reality TV programs that objectify women, and pornography, predicted more objectified cognitions about women and stronger attitudes supportive of violence against women. [xiii]
- Risky Behaviors and Other Harms: For males, increased pornography use is correlated with more sex partners, more alcohol use, more binge drinking, greater acceptance of sex outside of marriage for married individuals, greater acceptance of sex before marriage, and less child centeredness during marriage.[xiv]
- Pornography as Sex Ed: A study of male high school seniors in Sweden found that nearly 70% of those who frequently used pornography reported that pornography made them want to try out what they had seen compared to 42% of boys in a reference group.[xv] Frequent users of pornography viewed all forms of pornography more often, especially advanced or more deviant forms of pornography including violence and sexual abuse of children and animals.[xvi]
- Sexual Harassment and Coercion: A study of 804 Italian males and females aged 14 to 19, found that males who viewed pornography were significantly more likely to report having sexually harassed a peer or forcing someone to have sex.[xvii]
[i] Aline Wéry and Joel Billieux, “Online Sexual Activities: An Exploratory Study of Problematic and Non-Problematic Usage Patterns in a Sample of Men,” Computers in Human Behavior 56 (2016): 257–266.
[ii] Brian Y. Park, Gary Wilson, Jonathan Berger, Matthew Christman, Bryn Reina, Frank Bishop, Warren P. Klam, and Andrew P. Doan, “Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports,” Behavioral Sciences 6, no. 17 (2016): 1–25.
[iii] Wéry, ibid.
[iv] Park, ibid.
[v] Alfredo Nicolosi, Edward O. Laumann, Dale B. Glasser, Edson D. Moreira, Jr., Anthony Paik, and Clive Gingell, “Sexual Behavior and Sexual Dysfunctions after Age 40: The Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors,” Urology 64 (2004): 991–997.
[vi] Ivan Landripet and Aleksandar Štulhofer, “Is Pornography Use Associated with Sexual Difficulties and Dysfunctions among Younger Heterosexual Men?” The Journal of Sexual Medicine 12 (2015): 1136–1139.
[vii] Park, ibid.
[viii] Lucia F. Sullivan, Lori A. Brotto, E. Sandra Byers, Jo Ann Majerovich, and Judith A. Wuest, “Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Functioning among Sexually Experienced Middle to Late Adolescents,” The Journal of Sexual Medicine 11 (2014): 630–641.
[ix] Paolo Capogrosso, et al., “One Patient Out of Four with Newly Diagnosed Erectile Dysfunction Is a Young Man—Worrisome Picture from the Everyday Clinical Practice,” The Journal of Sexual Medicine 10 (2013): 1833–1841.
[x] Verena Klein, Tanja Jurin, Peer Briken, and Aleksandar Štulhofer, “Erectile Dysfunction, Boredom, and Hypersexuality among Couple Men from Two European Countries,” The Journal of Sexual Medicine 12, no. 11 (2015):2160–2167.
[xi] Katherine S. Sutton, Natalie Stratton, Jennifer Pytyck, Nathan J. Kolla, and James M. Cantor, “Patient Characteristics by Type of Hypersexuality Referral: A Quantitative Chart Review of 115 Consecutive Male Cases,” Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 41, no. 6 (2015): 563–580.
[xii] Valerie Voon, Thomas B. Mole, Paula Banca, Laura Porter, Laurel Morris, Simon Mitchell, Tatyana R. Lapa, et al., “Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviors,” PLOS ONE 9, no. 7 (2014):1–10.
[xiii] Paul J. Wright and Robert S. Tokunaga, “Men’s Objectifying Media Consumption, Objectification of Women, and Attitudes Supportive of Violence against Women,” Archives of Sexual Behavior 45, no. 4 (2016): 955–64.
[xiv] Jason S. Carroll, Laura L. Padilla-Walker, Larry J. Olson, Chad D. Olson, Carolyn McNamara Barry, Stephanie D. Madsen, “Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults,” Journal of Adolescent Research 23, no. 1 (2008): 6–30; Svedin, ibid.
[xv] Svedin, ibid.
[xvii] Bonino, ibid.
- Pornography and STI’s: Pornography use among adult males in America is associated with increased engagement in sexual behaviors that increase the risk of STIs. Internet pornography consumption has been positively associated with having sex with multiple partners, engaging in paid sex, and having had extramarital sex.[i]
- Increased STI’s Among Adolescent Minority Females: Exposure to X-rated movies among Black females 14 to 18 years old was associated with being more likely to have negative attitudes toward using condoms, to have multiple sex partners, to have sex more frequently, to have not used contraception during the last intercourse, to have not used contraception in the past 6 months, to have a strong desire to conceive, and to test positive for chlamydia.[ii]
[i] Paul J. Wright and Ashley K. Randall, “Internet Pornography Exposure and Risky Sexual Behavior among Adult Males in the United States,” Computers in Human Behavior 28 (2012): 1410–1416.
[ii] Gina M. Wingood, Ralph J. DiClemente, Kathy Harrington, Suzy Davies, Edward W. Hook, and M. Kim Oh, “Exposure to X-Rated Movies and Adolescent’s Sexual and Contraceptive-Related Attitudes and Behaviors,” Pediatrics 107, no. 5 (2001): 1116–1119.
- The Research Is In: Since 2011, there have been 26 major studies which reveal pornography use has negative and detrimental impacts on the brain.[i]
- Shrinks Brain: A 2014 study of the brain scans of 64 pornography users found that increased pornography use (i.e. pornography dosage) is linked to decreased brain matter in the areas of the brain associated with motivation and decision-making, and contributed to impaired impulse control and desensitization to sexual reward.[ii] Thus the study demonstrated that pornography use can produce physical, anatomic change in the brain—a hallmark of addiction.[iii]
- Hijacks the Brain’s Reward System: Motivation and reward are regulated by the mesolimbic system. There is ample evidence that the mesolimbic system is activated in response to both substance abuse and natural rewards such as sex.[iv] Addiction occurs when the pleasure/rewards pathways of the brain are hijacked by drugs such as cocaine or by natural process vital to survival such as eating and sex.[v] The constant novelty of Internet pornography, as well as properties such as violation of expectations, anticipation of reward, and the act of seeking (i.e. surfing) stimulate mesolimbic dopamine activity.[vi] Growing evidence suggests that pornography use hijacks the brain’s reward system in the same way that drug use does.[vii]
- The Addiction Gets Worse: Using functional MRI, a 2015 study from Cambridge found that compulsive sexual behavior is characterized by novelty-seeking, conditioning, and habituation to sexual stimuli in males—meaning users need more extreme content over time in order achieve the same level of arousal. The study also identified a dissociation between desiring or wanting but not liking sexually explicit materials—a finding consistent with theories of incentive motivation underlying drug addiction.[viii]
[i] Your Brain on Porn, “Brain Studies on Porn Users,” (2014) http://yourbrainonporn.com/brain-scan-studies-porn-users (accessed July 13, 2016).
[ii] Simone Kühn and Jürgen Gallinat, “Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated with Pornography Consumption,” JAMA Psychiatry 71, no. 7 (2014): 827–834.
[iii] Donald L. Hilton, Jr., and Clark Watts, “Pornography Addiction: A Neuroscience Perspective,” Surgical Neurology International 2, no. 19 (2011).
[iv] K.S. Frohmader, J. Wiskerke, R.A, Wise, M.N. Lehman, and L.M. Coolen, “Methamphetamine Acts on Subpopulations of Neurons Regulating Sexual Behavior in Male Rats,” Neuroscience 166, (2010): 771–784.
[v] Hilton, ibid.
[vi] Park, ibid.
[vii] Kühn, ibid; Shane W. Kraus, Valerie Voon, and Marc N. Potenza, “Neurobiology of Compulsive Sexual Behavior: Emerging Science,” Neuropsychopharmacology 41 (2016): 385-386; D.L Wallace, V. Vialou, T.L. Carle-Florence, S. Chakravarty, A. Kumar, D.L. Graham, T.A. Green, et al., “The Influence of DeltaFosB in the Nucleus Accumbens on Natural Reward-Related Behavior,” Journal of Neuroscience 8, no. 28 (2008):10272-10277.
[viii] Voon, ibid.
[Note: this article contains medical discussion of sexual dysfunctions.] A new paper investigating the harms of pornography has been published, and its findings are cause for concern. A team of seven urologists, neuroscientists and psychiatrists from the Navy along with Gary Wilson, the founder of YourBrainOnPorn, set out to collect the facts, review research, and […]
The numbers are in, and one thing is clear: the phenomenon of porn use poses an unprecedented public health crisis in American society. The groundbreaking new study, “The Porn Phenomenon,” just released several key findings which underscore the necessity of addressing pornography on a large scale. This survey reports that more than a quarter of young […]