What does porn do to your brain

That is what porn consumption does to our brain chemistry

Pornography is almost as old as humanity. But it has never been as available as it is today. The internet has replaced the filthy porn departments in video stores. Porn consumption on the internet is always available - and in large quantities. The world's largest free porn site, Pornhub, had more than 33.5 billion page views in 2018. The effects of this consumption on the brain have not yet been adequately researched. But it is already clear that both mental health and sex life can suffer massive damage from excessive porn use.

Porn makes sex life worse

Researchers like Rachel Anne Barr from the Université Laval in Canada are studying the effects of consuming pornographic videos on the brain. With long-term use, there is evidence that pornography can cause real sex to suffer - for example through the inability to achieve orgasm or erection with a real partner. The ability to get romantically involved with a partner also suffers.

Some researchers compare the consumption of pornography to that of drugs. The brain is programmed to respond to sexual stimulation by releasing dopamine. It is a neurotransmitter that is commonly associated with rewards. But it also serves to store memories and information in the brain. Regular porn users then tend to meet physical needs by using a laptop or smartphone. In addition, the regular dopamine releases are associated with a habituation effect.

Pornography satisfies every one of the prerequisites for neuroplastic change. When pornographers boast that they are pushing the envelope by introducing new, harder themes, what they don’t say is that they must, because their customers are building up a tolerance to the content“Explains the psychiatrist Norman Doidge.

Porn scenes are hyper-stimulating triggers that lead to unusually high levels of dopamine, which can damage the dopamine reward system, making it insensitive to natural stimuli - that is, normal sex - which explains the difficulties many regular porn users have in their sex lives.

Reprogramming the brain

This desensitization is just the beginning. Studies have found that the changes in the dopamine reward system can lead to depression. In addition, a real addiction to porn can develop, in which those affected invest a lot of time in consumption and are sometimes even restricted in their free time and in their professional life.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute also found that the high consumption of porn leads to a kind of spiral in which more and more extreme material is sought. This is also backed up by Pornhub's stats, which show the demand for normal sex is falling and being replaced by demand for topics like incest or violence.

Pornography consumption has also been associated with changes in the brain's prefrontal cortex. In this region, functions such as morality, willpower and impulse control are controlled. In extreme cases, this can even go so far that those affected make poorer decisions and behave unpredictably.