Your Brain on Porn

Printer-friendly version

Start here for a brief overview of concepts & science

This article is a short synopsis of some key concepts. For the science behind it, please follow all the links and read this page. Some links go to our articles, which in turn link to studies. For a more in-depth understanding and further evidence see The Research Page. For specific content explore Porn FAQs.


What happens when you drop a male rat into a cage with a receptive female rat? First, you see a frenzy of copulation. Then, progressively, the male tires of that particular female. Even if she wants more, he has had enough. However, replace the original female with a fresh one, and the male immediately revives and gallantly struggles to fertilize her. You can repeat this process with fresh females until he is completely wiped out.

This is called the Coolidge effect—the automatic response to novel mates. Interestingly, men ejaculate more motile sperm and they do it more quickly when they view a novel porn star. This powerful automatic response to erotic novelty is what started you down the road to getting hooked on internet porn.

Studies linking porn use or porn/sex addiction to sexual dysfunctions, lower brain activation to sexual stimuli, and lower sexual satisfaction

Reality Check - Regardless of what you may read in some journalistic accounts, multiple studies reveal a link between porn use and sexual performance problems, relationship and sexual dissatisfaction, and reduced brain activation to sexual stimuli.

Let's start with sexual dysfunctions. Studies assessing young male sexuality since 2010 report historic levels of sexual dysfunctions, and startling rates of a new scourge: low libido. Documented in this article.

Brain Studies on Porn Users

This page lists all the studies assessing the brain structure and functioning of Internet porn users. To date every study offers support for the porn addiction model. The results of these 27 studies (and upcoming studies) are consistent with 170+ Internet addiction brain studies, many of which also include internet porn use. All support the premise that internet porn use can cause addiction-related brain changes, as do 10 recent neuroscience-based reviews of the literature:

Gary's TEDx talk - "The Great Porn Experiment"

Captions also available for other languages, including 한국의, Chinese, Português, Czech, Deutsch, Estonian, עברית, Hungarian, Italian, Polski, Serbian, Slovak. Vietamese. To see them, click on the 'YouTube' logo to watch on YOUTube. Then, when you get there, click on "CC" for captions (bottom right of screen). Ver YBOP series in Español. Make captions in your own language!

Age 20 - Quitting PMO definitely helped lower my anxiety & depression, I feel more confident, My mind is a lot clearer

I can't remember when I was on here probably 3 or 4 months ago, that was a real gross time in my life but I just wanted to post on here because I've been getting urges lately and that kind of reminded me of this site. Somewhere along my streak (which I'm still on, didn't relapse) I forgot all about this site, which is actually a good thing. Being on [nofap] all day probably isn't a good thing for you if you're trying to live a better life.

Porn Causing Rise in Sexual Dysfunction (Urology professor David Samadi MD)

Sexual dysfunction among men under 40 is increasing, and the U.S. Navy thinks porn is to blame. In a new review published in Behavioral Sciences, Navy urologists, neuroscientists and psychiatrists report that 15 years ago erectile dysfunction rates were negligible (2 to 5 percent) in sexually active men under 40. Now, the research indicates that rates are as high as 30 percent in this same age group.

Age 21 – PIED gone, higher self-image, confidence boost

I realized that i could always get it up during sexy time with my so, but always has a hard time cumming unless i grasped it with my hand, which indeed is very detrimental to our sexual relationship. Ever since i stopped it’s been a gradual process, but now i can confidently say that my ED's definitely gone :)

Age 42 - One year, PIED healed, knowing the science really helped

I want to say how important all this teaching and science has helped me. Prior to July 8th of 2015, I thought I was taking porn to me with the grave. I had all kinds of problems sexually. I love my fiancé, but I couldn't sustain an erection during sex. I also felt my life was out of control. I couldn't move forward. Every month or so, I'd do a flurry of work for a few days and then crash and burn. It was like that for a year. I wanted to commit suicide. But I'm not that victim anymore.