Your Brain on Porn

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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 arousal 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 (no studies falsify the porn addiction model). The results of these 28 neurological studies (and upcoming studies) are consistent with 180+ 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"

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Less anxiety, more focus, more energy. Social interactions are much more fluid. Less reactive in general to people/events

Here are some of the things I have noticed undergoing throughout this streak. No porn, no orgasm, no sex. And you will notice they are strangely similar to what you already might have read online, HOWEVER, they are LARGELY exaggerated on forums and will feel different IRL as when you read about them.

I was overweight, masturbated all day that I got ED, leeched off my parents, hated women, suicidal: 3 year of NoFap changed everything.

I've lurked this subreddit for a while. Reading all your inspirational stories helped change my life. I used to be extremely overweight, ate nonstop junk food, masturbated all day that I got ED, leeched off my parents, hated women, was super MGTOW and suicidal. Now I've bought an apartment, am fit, got a girlfriend, got a job, and I actually enjoy life.

Severe porn addiction cured after 5+ years of misery. How I did it and how you can too.

I suppose I'll preface with a little background. Skip ahead if you'd like. I've masturbated since I can remember. I found softcore porn in my dad's room when I was very young and found very hardcore stuff on the computer shortly thereafter. My impressionable young brain was hooked. I started developing fetishes before even hitting puberty.