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Surprising Side Effects Of Porn Addiction You Didn’t Know

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Why Porn Addiction Is A Health Concern

Porn can be a way to build camaraderie among hormonally charged adolescent boys, a healthy outlet for sexual urges, or a shared intimate experience for some couples. Unfortunately, this usage of sexual media turns dark when it becomes compulsive and uncontrollable. Often at the cost of your sex life, social life, work life, and personal relationships. Plus, it could hit your self-esteem, leave you depressed, and ashamed.

Whether or not you believe in the power of erotica, the American Psychological Association says porn consumption rates are upward of 30 percent among women, and 50 percent or more among men.1 But if this fascination turns to an addiction, you may be in trouble. Here’s a look at the side effects of your indulgence in pornographic content.

Negative Effects Of Pornography

Depression

One of the big problems with porn addiction is that it could be contributing to a more deep-seated problem that needs attention and medical care. Like depression. As one piece of research found, those who used sexually explicit media had higher depressive symptoms as well as diminished mental health days and reported an overall poorer quality of life compared to those who did not use such media, better known as porn.2 If this depression and the porn addiction are not addressed, the individual could suffer far graver health consequences both mental and physical. In fact, one feature in a men’s health magazine says that “at risk users” may even be using porn to escape their pre-existing feelings of loneliness or stress. And as you’ll well know, that can’t possibly end very happily.

Self-esteem Issues

Before and during porn use, an addict is likely to feel a rush of excitement. Unfortunately, after the consumption of sexual media, negative feelings begin to set in. They could manifest as guilt or shame that are quite intense. The user may feel remorse or even sink into depression. All of these combine to hit the self-esteem of the individual who may even become reclusive.3

Relationship Issues And Impact On Sex Life

When you indulge in porn too much or too often, it can make a dent in relationships with your real life sexual partners. And that’s precisely what one survey found, when they interviewed female college students in relationships where they saw their boyfriend’s consumption of porn to be excessive. The relationship quality was perceived to be poorer, self-esteem of these women was lower, and they said their sexual satisfaction also came in below par.4 The unrealistic expectations it sets up for women to live up to, have been the subject of much debate. Another study found that for men too, sexual quality of life dropped when the men indulged in porn use.5 Men in relationships who are addicted to porn may also become emotionally withdrawn and distance themselves from their partner. They may become more secretive and less intimate in a bid to cover up their habit.6

Other Repercussions

Beyond these, there are broader social repercussions of porn addiction. If an addict goes unchecked, they could begin indulging in potentially risky behavior. They may put their education or job on the line. Some may go so far that they actually lose their jobs or suffer financial losses to fund their porn addiction and to make time available to indulge in porn at the cost of their job and responsibilities.

For some people, porn addiction may just be the tip of the iceberg. Sexual addiction could be an underlying cause of this porn addiction. And if that’s the case, then they stand to also put themselves at risk of sexually transmitted infections and diseases. That’s besides being faced with potentially failed marriages, declining performance at work, or other negative consequences in their lives as a whole. Porn consumption actually becomes an easy outlet for the sexual urges of those with an addiction sex itself.7 Whatever the cause, there’s merit to being aware of when a healthy interest in sexual media crosses the line into a compulsion so you don’t experience the dark side of addiction.

Why Watch Porn At All?

People have different experiences with porn, though the basic needs remain broadly the same – a need for erotic content. Surveys have found that to most people it is just a harmless outlet for their sexual fantasies. Some even say it is a useful tool to educate themselves. 8 The widespread availability of porn has been aided in no small part by the ease of access to pornographic content online. Suitably anonymous, and fulfilling the “anytime, anywhere” need people may have to indulge in some recreational porn viewing, internet porn may also be turning into an addiction for some. When it is a shared relationship ritual with both couples watching porn together, as may be the case, theorize some researchers, when women indulge in porn, things are quite different. Which is why, studies have found that when women use porn, sex life quality/satisfaction actually goes up for both partners. Unfortunately, men tend to use porn for masturbation; in other words, it is a solitary experience. And that’s where the cracks begin to show when use is excessive.9

When Is It An Addiction?

So when does routine viewing of pornography become something more ominous? Going by the normal classification of other addictions and expert opinions on porn addiction, here are some things to watch out for that could indicate a transition from a habit or “interest” to an addiction.10

  • Repetitive behavior that becomes compulsive. You feel unable to stop.
  • While you are initially excited and stimulated, afterward you feel depressed, remorseful, ashamed, or guilty.
  • You try and hide or cover up your behavior and usage of porn.
  • Life is organized to accommodate the porn viewing. You spend your time away from porn thinking about porn and when you’re going to indulge next.
  • Viewing porn is at the cost of romantic or social relationships.
  • It begins to affect work negatively.
  • It deters emotional and/or psychological growth.
  • It brings on feelings of depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, or despair.

References   [ + ]

1, 6, 8. Is pornography addictive?American Psychological Association.
2. Weaver III, James B., Stephanie Sargent Weaver, Darren Mays, Gary L. Hopkins, Wendi Kannenberg, and Duane McBride. “Mental‐and physical‐health indicators and sexually explicit media use behavior by adults.” The journal of sexual medicine 8, no. 3 (2011): 764-772.
3, 10. Pornography Addiction. UT Dallas Student Counselling Center.
4. Stewart, Destin N., and Dawn M. Szymanski. “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, no. 5-6 (2012): 257-271.
5. Poulsen, Franklin O., Dean M. Busby, and Adam M. Galovan. “Pornography use: Who uses it and how it is associated with couple outcomes.” Journal of sex research 50, no. 1 (2013): 72-83.
7. Cassidy, Tabitha. “Pornography Addiction and Mental Health Disorders.” (2013).
9. Bridges, Ana J., and Patricia J. Morokoff. “Sexual media use and relational satisfaction in heterosexual couples.” Personal Relationships 18, no. 4 (2011): 562-585.