How Porn Damages Your Sex Life

Instead of increasing sexual enjoyment, porn often leads to less satisfying sex in the long run and, for many users, no sex at all.
 

Porn promises a virtual world filled with sex—more sex and better sex. What it doesn’t mention, however, is that the further a user goes into that fantasy world, the more likely their reality is to become just the opposite. [1] Porn often leads to less sex and less satisfying sex. [2] And for many users, porn eventually means no sex at all. [3]

How? Well, it starts in your brain.

You see, your brain is full of nerve pathways that make up what scientists call your “brain map.” [4] It’s kind of like a hiking map in your head, with billions of tiny overlapping trails. These pathways connect different parts of your brain together, helping you make sense of your experiences and control your life.

When you have a sexual experience that feels good, your brain starts creating new pathways to connect what you’re doing to the pleasure you’re feeling. [5] Essentially, your brain is redrawing the sexual part of you map so you’ll be able to come back later and repeat the experience. [6] (SeeHow Porn Is Like a Drug). The same thing happens the first time you watch porn. Your brain starts building new pathways in response to this very powerful new experience. [7] It’s saying, “This feels great! Let’s do this again.”

But here’s the catch: your brain map operates on a “use it or lose it” principle. [8] Just like a hiking trail will start to grow over if it’s not getting walked on, brain pathways that don’t get traffic become weaker and can even be completely replaced by stronger pathways that get more use.

As you might expect, watching porn is a very powerful experience that leaves a strong and lasting impression in the brain. (SeeHow Porn Changes the Brain.) Every time you watch porn—especially if you heighten the experience by masturbating—you are strengthening the part of your brain map that connects arousal to porn. [9] Meanwhile, the pathways connecting arousal to things like seeing, touching, or cuddling with a partner aren’t getting used. Pretty soon, natural turn-ons aren’t enough, and many porn users find they can’t get aroused by anything but porn. [10]

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