Does Porn Rewire Our Brains?

September 30, 2012
Does Porn Rewire Our Brains?

Today’s easy access to pornography is a far cry from seamy video stores on the outskirts of town of yesteryear. Men today need only a smartphone and a little privacy to satisfy their cravings for sexual stimuli.

In fact, when researchers studying porn at the University of Montreal attempted to find a control group of men in their 20s who had never consumed pornography, they were unable to find even one subject.

Nearly all boys have accessed porn by the age of 10. Seventy percent of men today regularly watch Internet porn, while that number for women is about 30 percent.

And all of this easily accessible and affordable porn is affecting relationships, usually in a negative way. The consequences also include emotional, relational and financial problems, but also sexual dysfunction.

Men can become desensitized to real-life women.

Research supports that kids who play too many violent video games become desensitized to violence, and in the same way, men who watch too much porn become desensitized to real life women.

Neuroscientists have confirmed that men are more stimulated by visual cues than women. The amygdala, the area of the human brain that controls emotion and motivation, is more highly activated in men when viewing sexual images than women viewing the same content.

Researchers speculate that human evolution offered men who could more readily identify sexually receptive females through visual cues a better chance of having sex and passing on their genetic code.

Fortunately, cavemen didn’t have access to porn that could eventually alter their brains. Today, addiction to porn essentially rewires the brain, making it more difficult to naturally feel pleasure, the natural pleasure that women willingly provide for men.

 

“It’s not easy for most men

to break a porn addiction.”

Reduced interest in sexual, physical, emotional connections.

One of the most common symptoms of porn addiction is reduced or even nonexistent interest in sexual, physical and emotional connections with spouses and/or longer-term sexual partners.

The man who spends most of his sexual life masturbating and fantasizing to porn (endless images of young, exciting, different partners and sexual experiences) is going to find his longer-term partner less interesting visually and less stimulating than the endless supply of new and exciting material he gets from porn.

Eventually this guy can only become erect or orgasm to porn, not with his own partner.

Neuroscientists find that the pleasure pathways in our brain that are altered by addictions take at least one year to become “normal” again.

And like with any addiction, it’s not easy for most men to break a porn addiction. After all, a dude doesn’t even need to get out of his bed to access porn these days.

Current research tells us that for approximately 5 to 8 percent of the adult population, porn use can evolve into an addictive behavior, quickly escalating from a pleasurable distraction to a behavioral compulsion that leads to depression, isolation, loneliness, shame and negative life consequences.

Dr. Wendy Walsh is the author of "The 30-Day Love Detox"" (April 2013). Connect with her on Google+.

Related Topics:
Sex Studies

3 Responses

    geez. this is like a reality check for us girls. Looks like we have to step it up in the bedroom for the long run

    I’m definitely not desensitized to women. The real thing is WAY better than a magazine–any day

    I feel like intelligent men know the difference between porn and real sex, and know when to expect what.

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