3 MIN READ | Psychotherapy

News Release

Expert Explains How Watching Too Much Porn Affects Your Brain

Cite This
News Release, (2022, May 5). Expert Explains How Watching Too Much Porn Affects Your Brain. Psychreg on Psychotherapy. https://www.psychreg.org/watching-porn-affects-brain/
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The availability of pornography or explicit videos and images has never been more accessible. The volume of content available online is staggering, so it comes as no surprise that research by Ofcom shows that half of the adult population in the UK watch porn online. 

There are some individuals, however, that can’t seem to get enough and watch upwards of several hours each week. But what effect is this having on the body and the mind? 

Martin Preston, Founder & Chief Executive at Private Rehab Clinic Delamere, is warning users of the harmful impact watching too much pornographic content can have on your brain

Pornography impacts the brain similarly to an addictive drug by causing an ever-increasing amount of dopamine, bringing feelings of pleasure. Over time, the body can build up a tolerance and produce progressively less dopamine.’ 

‘As time goes on, pornography users will often increase the amount of content they view or watch more extreme content to chase that dopamine rush or high.’ 

‘Dopamine, however, isn’t the only neurochemical that is released when people view pornographic content. Oxytocin, a chemical released during sex known as the ‘love hormone, is often released. The neurochemical release provides a feeling of attachment and calmness, and it, in some cases, can intensity erection and ejaculation.’

‘The release of oxytocin when watching porn is often a reason why many naturally have a strong desire to watch content – and in some cases, become addicted. Users often become addicted to novelty and the fantasy of viewing new content in unrealistic scenarios and new experiences on the screen.’

‘Prolonged exposure to pornographic content can affect the brain, and users will often form an attachment to explicit content and not a person. This is why users usually start to experience difficulty achieving erection or orgasm with a physical partner.’

What are the key signs of porn addiction?

It can be hard for someone to identify a  porn addiction within themselves. Equally, it is difficult for someone to determine precisely when watching pornography, even frequently, has developed into a genuine addiction.

Sex becomes less satisfying

When a person develops a porn addiction, their sex life in the real world can become less satisfying, as it can never fulfil the idea of sex influenced by pornography. 

A person’s expectations of sex can become unrealistic, and they can even find themselves pushing for riskier forms of sex, such as suffocation or strangulation. A person might even seek out sex with multiple partners to live out the sexual fantasies conceptualised by pornography.

Prioritising porn

Someone struggling with a pornography addiction will almost always consider watching porn one of their priorities and therefore disregard their everyday tasks.

This is where porn consumption begins to impact the individual’s life negatively. They can experience depression and exhaustion while falling behind in their daily routine and social life due to their porn habits.

Taking more risks to watch porn

Once a person becomes addicted to porn, they may begin taking increasingly riskier opportunities to view pornographic content.

porn addict may find themselves watching porn in the workplace or in a public setting such as public transport. Despite knowing that the consequences of being caught in such content in public would be severe, the individual may find that they cannot resist the temptation. The taboo act of watching porn in a risky setting may even provide the individual with an added thrill.

Feelings of frustration

If a person feels ashamed or frustrated with the amount of pornography they are watching but finds themselves unable to limit their time spent watching porn, they likely have a porn addiction.

However much an addict might be aware that what they are doing to themselves is harmful and unhealthy, they will struggle to be physically able to stop themselves from doing it.

Financial impact

A person has developed a genuine problem with porn consumption when it begins to affect them financially.

If a person is spending large amounts of money on pornography, to the point where they are even prioritising spending on porn over other expenses such as rent, bills, food and family, then their relationship with porn has unhealthily developed into an addiction.

With the rise in popularity of subscription sites making porn even more accessible and possibly even more acceptable, it is now easier than ever for porn consumption to impact people’s lives financially.

Delving into the taboo

When a person has consumed an overload of pornographic content, the idea of ‘regular’ less extreme pornography may no longer provide the satisfaction it once did.

porn addict is more likely to begin viewing more violent, controversial or taboo forms of porn progressively as they chase the feeling of a dopamine release. The problem that porn addicts will experience is the same as substance abuse. They will have a  sense of reward or relief that porn may provide will never be completely fulfilling, and the problem will only worsen unless it is properly addressed.

Porn as a coping mechanism

A sign that someone may be suffering from porn addiction is when they begin to use porn consumption to cope with other health conditions.

A person with insomnia may get addicted to porn due to watching pornographic videos to distract from their inability to sleep. Likewise, a person suffering from depression or anxiety may view watching porn as a means of escapism and get addicted that way. However, overly obsessive porn consumption can only make these pre-existing conditions feel worse in the long run.


Psychreg is mainly for information purposes only; materials on this website are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Don’t disregard professional advice or delay in seeking  treatment because of what you have read on this website. Read our full disclaimer