Men come into contact with porn very early in their lives. In fact, the average age of initial exposure to porn for men is 13. Porn has become a regular part of a modern man’s life, with 70% of men aged 18-24 reporting that they watch porn at least once a month. Porn has become so ingrained in modern culture and lifestyle that we have come to accept it as normal, never questioning whether it could actually be inhibiting our potential or even causing certain behavioral problems for us.
Regardless, the fact remains that the amount of porn we consume today is not normal. We can view more naked bodies in one hour than our ancestors could in an entire lifetime. Our brains are simply not used to having access to that much sexual stimulation. Even when we consider how things were before the internet, when people had to physically go to shops to buy pornographic material, accessibility was not nearly as high as it is today. High speed internet has thus created a situation that never existed before in human history: an endless stream of novel sexual stimulation.
Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters core to sexual behavior. This means that when the brain is exposed to an endless stream of porn, the brain releases more dopamine than is considered healthy.
The brain is quite plastic in teenage years, and this excess of dopamine can cause physical changes in the brain, most prominently in the frontal cortex. It causes the brain to crave for more porn, causing a vicious cycle that in turn causes a reduction in motivation, as the craving for porn disrupts healthy motivations. Addiction to porn can also cause concentration difficulties, irritability and a numbed pleasure response. Failing to mitigate addictive symptoms can contribute to Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), binge eating and gambling problems.
However, porn addiction can be responsible for more than just psychological addiction responses. There are physical problems that arise specifically from too much porn use.
Younger men are more frequently reporting erectile dysfunction, although this is normal only in men above their 50s. This is not because men are getting physically weaker, but because addiction to pornography affects their bodies’ sexual conditioning. Normal sex is fundamentally different form porn-induced masturbation. Sex involves mutual touch, communication and an emotional connection. Thus, when a man is faced with a real physical partner, the brain is unable to physiologically adapt. Continuous exposure to porn sites also leads to lower levels of stimulation, a drop in libido and desensitization in the penis.
Although the link hasn’t been adequately proven, it is widely speculated that internet porn is also responsible for why young men are having less sex and are dating even less than before. According to research conducted by Dr. Peter Ueda, “between 2000-2002 and 2016-2018, past-year sexual inactivity rose from almost 19% to 31% among men ages 18 to 24.”
It seems as if younger men are not finding the need to go out on dates and find sexual partners as internet porn has not forced them to leave their rooms for sexual gratification—reducing men’s libidos
The sad part of this all is that men nowadays usually start viewing porn at a very young age and continue throughout adolescence, so they do not know any alternative. They are clueless as to how much porn may be contributing to their feelings of anxiety, depression or sexual impotence. Men who abstain from porn consumption have reported to have increased levels of confidence, productivity and creativity. As with any addiction, any form of treatment is ultimately more productive than enabling it.