Studies linking porn use/sex addiction to sexual problems, lower arousal to sexual stimuli, and less sexual & relationship satisfaction
Reality Check about Porn Addiction and sexual satisfaction
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. Sexual satisfaction is so important in our lives.
Let’s start with sexual dysfunctions. Studies assessing young male sexuality since 2010 report historic levels of sexual dysfunctions. They report startling rates of a new scourge: low libido. Documented in this lay article and in this peer-reviewed paper involving 7 US Navy doctors – Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports (2016)
Historical ED rates
Erectile dysfunction was first assessed in 1940s when the Kinsey report concluded that the prevalence of ED was less than 1% in men younger than 30 years, less than 3% in those 30–45. While ED studies on young men are relatively sparse, this 2002 meta-analysis of 6 high-quality ED studies reported that 5 of the 6 reported ED rates for men under 40 of approximately 2%. The 6th study reported figures of 7-9%. However, the question used could not be compared to the 5 other studies. It did not assess chronic erectile dysfunction. “Did you have trouble maintaining or achieving an erection any time in the last year?”.
At the end of 2006 free, streaming porn tube sites came on line and gained instant popularity. This changed the nature of porn consumption radically. For the first time in history, viewers could escalate with ease during a masturbation session without any wait.
Ten studies since 2010
Ten studies published since 2010 reveal a tremendous rise in sexual dysfunctions. In the 10 studies, erectile dysfunction rates for men under 40 ranged from 14% to 37%. Rates for low libido ranged from 16% to 37%. Other than the advent of streaming porn (2006) no variable related to youthful ED has appreciably changed in the last 10-20 years (smoking rates are down, drug use is steady, obesity rates in males 20-40 up only 4% since 1999 – see this review of the literature). The recent jump in sexual problems coincides with the publication of numerous studies. These studies link porn use and “porn addiction” to sexual problems and lower arousal to sexual stimuli.
Below are two lists:
- List one: Over 40 studies linking porn use or porn addiction to sexual problems and lower arousal in response to sexual stimuli or partnered sex. The first 7 studies in the list demonstrate causation.
- List two: Over 75 studies linking porn use to lower relationship or sexual satisfaction. As far as we know all studies involving males have reported more porn use linked to poorer sexual or relationship satisfaction.
List #1: Studies linking porn use or porn addiction to sexual dysfunctions and lower arousal
In addition to the studies below, this page contains articles and interviews involving over 150 experts (urology professors, urologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, sexologists, MDs) who acknowledge and have successfully treated porn-induced sexual dysfunctions. The first 7 studies demonstrate causation as participants eliminated porn use and healed chronic sexual dysfunctions:
1) Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports (2016)
An extensive review of the literature related to porn-induced sexual problems. Involving 7 US Navy doctors, the review provides the latest data revealing a tremendous rise in youthful sexual problems. It also reviews the neurological studies related to porn addiction and sexual conditioning via Internet porn. The doctors provide 3 clinical reports of men who developed porn-induced sexual dysfunctions. Two of the three men healed their sexual dysfunctions by eliminating porn use. The third man experienced little improvement as he was unable to abstain from porn use.
Traditional factors that once explained men’s sexual difficulties appear insufficient to account for the sharp rise in erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, decreased sexual satisfaction, and diminished libido during partnered sex in men under 40. This review (1) considers data from multiple domains, e.g., clinical, biological (addiction/urology), psychological (sexual conditioning), sociological; and (2) presents a series of clinical reports, all with the aim of proposing a possible direction for future research of this phenomenon. Alterations to the brain’s motivational system are explored as a possible etiology underlying pornography-related sexual dysfunctions.
This review also considers evidence that Internet pornography’s unique properties (limitless novelty, potential for easy escalation to more extreme material, video format, etc.) may be potent enough to condition sexual arousal to aspects of Internet pornography use that do not readily transition to real-life partners, such that sex with desired partners may not register as meeting expectations and arousal declines. Clinical reports suggest that terminating Internet pornography use is sometimes sufficient to reverse negative effects, underscoring the need for extensive investigation using methodologies that have subjects remove the variable of Internet pornography use.
2) Male masturbation habits and sexual dysfunctions (2016)
It’s by a French psychiatrist who is the current president of the European Federation of Sexology. While the abstract shifts back and forth between Internet pornography use and masturbation, it’s clear that he’s mostly referring to porn-induced sexual dysfunctions (erectile dysfunction and anorgasmia). The paper revolves around his clinical experience with 35 men who developed erectile dysfunction and/or anorgasmia, and his therapeutic approaches to help them. The author states that most of his patients used porn, with several being addicted to porn. The abstract points to internet porn as the primary cause of the problems (keep in mind that masturbation does not cause chronic ED, and it is never given as a cause of ED). 19 of the 35 men saw significant improvements in sexual functioning. The other men either dropped out of treatment or are still trying to recover.
Intro: Harmless and even helpful in his usual form widely practiced, masturbation in its excessive and pre-eminent form, generally associated today to pornographic addiction, is too often overlooked in the clinical assessment of sexual dysfunction it can induce.
Results: Initial results for these patients, after treatment to “unlearn” their masturbatory habits and their often associated addiction to pornography, are encouraging and promising. A reduction in symptoms was obtained in 19 patients out of 35. The dysfunctions regressed and these patients were able to enjoy satisfactory sexual activity.
Conclusion: Addictive masturbation, often accompanied by a dependency on cyber-pornography, has been seen to play a role in the etiology of certain types of erectile dysfunction or coital anejaculation. It is important to systematically identify the presence of these habits rather than conduct a diagnosis by elimination, in order to include habit-breaking deconditioning techniques in managing these dysfunctions.
3) Unusual masturbatory practice as an etiological factor in the diagnosis and treatment of sexual dysfunction in young men (2014)
One of the 4 case studies in this paper reports on a man with porn-induced sexual problems (low libido, fetishes, anorgasmia). The sexual intervention called for a 6-week abstinence from porn and masturbation. After 8 months the man reported increased sexual desire, successful sex and orgasm, and enjoying “good sexual practices. This is the first peer-reviewed chronicling of a recovery from porn-induced sexual dysfunctions. Excerpts from the paper:
“When asked about masturbatory practices, he reported that in the past he had been masturbating vigorously and rapidly while watching pornography since adolescence. The pornography originally consisted mainly of zoophilia, and bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism, but he eventually got habituated to these materials and needed more hardcore pornography scenes, including transgender sex, orgies, and violent sex. He used to buy illegal pornographic movies on violent sex acts and rape and visualized those scenes in his imagination to function sexually with women. He gradually lost his desire and his ability to fantasize and decreased his masturbation frequency.”
In conjunction with weekly sessions with a sex therapist, the patient was instructed to avoid any exposure to sexually explicit material, including videos, newspapers, books, and internet pornography.
After 8 months, the patient reported experiencing successful orgasm and ejaculation. He renewed his relationship with that woman, and they gradually succeeded in enjoying good sexual practices.
4) How difficult is it to treat delayed ejaculation within a short-term psychosexual model? A case study comparison (2017)
A report on two “composite cases” illustrating the causes and treatments for delayed ejaculation (anorgasmia). “Patient B” represented several young men treated by the therapist. Interestingly, the paper states that Patient B’s “porn use had escalated into harder material”, “as is often the case”. The paper says that porn-related delayed ejaculation is not uncommon, and on the rise. The author calls for more research on porn’s effects of sexual functioning. Patient B’s delayed ejaculation was healed after 10 weeks of no porn. Excerpts:
The cases are composite cases taken from my work within the National Health Service in Croydon University Hospital, London. With the latter case (Patient B), it is important to note that the presentation reflects a number of young males who have been referred by their GPs with a similar diagnosis. Patient B is a 19-year-old who presented because he was unable to ejaculate via penetration. When he was 13, he was regularly accessing pornography sites either on his own through internet searches or via links that his friends sent him. He began masturbating every night while searching his phone for image…If he did not masturbate he was unable to sleep. The pornography he was using had escalated, as is often the case (see Hudson-Allez, 2010), into harder material (nothing illegal)…
Patient B was exposed to sexual imagery via pornography from the age of 12 and the pornography he was using had escalated to bondage and dominance by the age of 15.
We agreed that he would no longer use pornography to masturbate. This meant leaving his phone in a different room at night. We agreed that he would masturbate in a different way….
Patient B was able to achieve orgasm via penetration by the fifth session; the sessions are offered fortnightly in Croydon University Hospital so session five equates to approximately 10 weeks from consultation. He was happy and greatly relieved. In a three-month follow-up with Patient B, things were still going well.
Patient B is not an isolated case within the National Health Service (NHS) and in fact young men in general accessing psychosexual therapy, without their partners, speaks in itself to the stirrings of change.
This article therefore supports previous research that has linked masturbation style to sexual dysfunction and pornography to masturbation style. The article concludes by suggesting that the successes of psychosexual therapists in working with DE are rarely recorded in the academic literature, which has allowed the view of DE as a difficult disorder to treat remain largely unchallenged. The article calls for research into pornography usage and its effect on masturbation and genital desensitisation.
5) Situational Psychogenic Anejaculation: A Case Study (2014)
The details reveal a case of porn-induced anejaculation. The husband’s only sexual experience prior to marriage was frequent masturbation to pornography – where he was able to ejaculate. He also reported sexual intercourse as less arousing than masturbation to porn. The key piece of information is that “re-training” and psychotherapy failed to heal his anejaculation. When those interventions failed, therapists suggested a complete ban on masturbation to porn. Eventually this ban resulted in successful sexual intercourse and ejaculation with a partner for the first time in his life. A few excerpts:
A is a 33-year-old married male with heterosexual orientation, a professional from a middle socio-economic urban background. He has had no premarital sexual contacts. He watched pornography and masturbated frequently. His knowledge about sex and sexuality was adequate. Following his marriage, Mr. A described his libido as initially normal, but later reduced secondary to his ejaculatory difficulties. Despite thrusting movements for 30-45 minutes, he had never been able to ejaculate or achieve orgasm during penetrative sex with his wife.
What didn’t work:
Mr. A’s medications were rationalized; clomipramine and bupropion were discontinued, and sertraline was maintained at a dose of 150 mg per day. Therapy sessions with the couple were held weekly for the initial few months, following which they were spaced to fortnightly and later monthly. Specific suggestions including focusing on sexual sensations and concentrating on the sexual experience rather than ejaculation were used to help reduce performance anxiety and spectatoring. Since problems persisted despite these interventions, intensive sex therapy was considered.
Eventually they instituted a complete ban on masturbation (which means he continued to masturbate to porn during the above failed interventions):
A ban on any form of sexual activity was suggested. Progressive sensate focus exercises (initially non-genital and later genital) were initiated. Mr. A described an inability to experience the same degree of stimulation during penetrative sex as compared to that which he experienced during masturbation. Once the ban on masturbation was enforced, he reported an increased desire for sexual activity with his partner.
After an unspecified amount of time, the ban on masturbation to porn lead to success:
Meanwhile, Mr. A and his wife decided to go ahead with Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) and underwent two cycles of intrauterine insemination. During a practice session, Mr. A ejaculated for the first time, following which he has been able to ejaculate satisfactorily during a majority of the couple’s sexual interactions.
6) Pornography Induced Erectile Dysfunction Among Young Men (2019)
This paper explores the phenomenon of pornography induced erectile dysfunction (PIED), meaning sexual potency problems in men due to Internet pornography consumption. Empirical data from men who suffer from this condition have been collected. A combination of topical life history method (with qualitative asynchronous online narrative interviews) and personal online diaries has been employed. The data have been analyzed using theoretical interpretative analysis (according to McLuhan’s media theory), based on analytic induction. The empirical investigation indicates that there is a correlation between pornography consumption and erectile dysfunction that suggests causation.
The findings are based on 11 interviews along with two video diaries and three text diaries. The men are between the ages of 16 and 52; they report that an early introduction to pornography (usually during adolescence) is followed by daily consumption until a point is reached where extreme content (involving, for example, elements of violence) is needed to maintain arousal. A critical stage is reached when sexual arousal is exclusively associated with extreme and fast-paced pornography, rendering physical intercourse bland and uninteresting. This results in an inability to maintain an erection with a real-life partner, at which point the men embark on a “re-boot” process, giving up pornography. This has helped some of the men to regain their ability to achieve and sustain an erection.
Introduction to the results section:
Having processed the data, I have noticed certain patterns and recurring themes, following a chronological narrative in all of the interviews. These are: Introduction. One is first introduced to pornography, usually before puberty. Building a habit. One begins to consume pornography regularly. Escalation. One turns to more “extreme” forms of pornography, content-wise, in order to achieve the same effects previously achieved through less “extreme” forms of pornography. Realization. One notices sexual potency problems believed to be caused by pornography use. “Re-boot” process. One tries to regulate pornography use or eliminate it completely in order to regain one’s sexual potency. The data from the interviews are presented based on the above outline.
7) Hidden in Shame: Heterosexual Men’s Experiences of Self-Perceived Problematic Pornography Use (2019)
Interviews of 15 male porn users. Several of the men reported porn addiction, escalation of use, and porn-induced sexual problems. Excerpts relevant to porn-induced sexual dysfunctions, including Michael – who significantly improve his erectile function during sexual encounters by severely limiting his porn use:
Some men talked about seeking professional help to address their problematic pornography use. Such attempts at help-seeking had not been productive for the men, and at times even exacerbated feelings of shame. Michael, a university student who used pornography primarily as a coping mechanism for study-related stress, was having issues with erectile dysfunction during sexual encounters with women and sought help from his General Practitioner Doctor (GP):
Michael: When I went to the doctor at 19 [. . .], he prescribed Viagra and said [my issue] was just performance anxiety. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. It was personal research and reading that showed me the issue was porn [. . .] If I go to the doctor as a young kid and he prescribes me the blue pill, then I feel like no one is really talking about it. He should be asking about my porn use, not giving me Viagra. (23, Middle-Eastern, Student)
As a result of his experience, Michael never went back to that GP and started doing his own research online. He eventually found an article discussing a man approximately his age describing a similar type of sexual dysfunction, which caused him to consider pornography as a potential contributor. After making a concerted effort to lower his pornography use, his erectile dysfunction issues began to improve. He reported that even though his total frequency of masturbation did not reduce, he only watched pornography for about half of those instances. By halving the amount of times he combined masturbation with pornography, Michael said he was able to significantly improve his erectile function during sexual encounters with women.
Reduced sex drive
Phillip, like Michael, sought help for another sexual issue related to his pornography use. In his case, the problem was a noticeably reduced sex drive. When he approached his GP about his issue and its links to his pornography use, the GP reportedly had nothing to offer and instead referred him to a male fertility specialist:
Phillip: I went to a GP and he referred me to specialist who I didn’t believe was particularly helpful. They didn’t really offer me a solution and weren’t really taking me seriously. I ended up paying him for six weeks of testosterone shots, and it was $100 a shot, and it really didn’t do anything. That was their way to treat my sexual dysfunction. I just do not feel the dialogue or situation was adequate. (29, Asian, Student)
Interviewer: [To clarify a previous point you mentioned, is this the experience] that prevented you from seeking help thereafter?
Only offered biomedical solutions
The GPs and specialists sought by the participants seemed to offer only biomedical solutions, an approach that has been criticized within literature (Tiefer, 1996). Hence, the service and treatment these men were able to receive from their GPs was not only deemed inadequate, but also alienated them from further accessing professional help. Although biomedical responses seem to be the most popular answer for doctors (Potts, Grace, Gavey, & Vares, 2004), a more holistic and client-centered approach is needed, as the issues highlighted by men are likely psychological and possibly created by pornography use.
Lastly, men reported the impacts pornography had had on their sexual function, something that has only recently been examined within the literature. For example, Park and colleagues (2016) found that Internet pornography viewing might be associated with erectile dysfunction, decreased sexual satisfaction, and diminished sexual libido. Participants in our study reported similar sexual dysfunctions, which they attributed to pornography use. Daniel reflected on his past relationships in which he was not able to get and keep an erection. He associated his erectile dysfunction with his girlfriends’ bodies not comparing to what he had become attracted to when watching pornography:
Daniel: My previous two girlfriends, I stopped finding them arousing in a way that wouldn’t have happened to someone who was not watching porn. I had seen so many naked female bodies, that I knew the particular things that I liked and you just start forming a very clear ideal about what you want in a woman, and real women aren’t like that. And my girlfriends didn’t have perfect bodies and I think that’s fine, but I think that got in the way of finding them arousing. And that caused problems in the relationships. There are times I couldn’t sexually perform because I was not aroused. (27, Pasifika, Student)
The remaining studies are listed by date of publication:
8) Male psychogenic sexual dysfunction: the role of masturbation (2003)
Relatively old study on men with so-called ‘psychogenic’ sexual problems (ED, DE, inability to be aroused by real partners). While the data is even older than 2003, interviews revealed tolerance and escalation related to “erotica” use:
Participants themselves had begun to question whether there may be a link between masturbation and the difficulties they were experiencing. Jim wonders whether reliance on masturbation and erotica during the 2 year period of celibacy preceding the onset of his problem has contributed to its cause:
J: . . . that two year period I was masturbating while I wasn’t in a regular relationship, umm and perhaps there were more images on television, so it wasn’t you had to buy a magazine – or – its just more available.
Although inspiration could develop from their own experience, most participants used visual or literary erotica to enhance their fantasies and increase arousal. Jim, who is ‘not good at mental visualizations’, explains how his arousal is enhanced by erotica during masturbation:
J: I mean quite often there are times when I’m stimulating myself there’s some sort of aid; watching a TV programme, reading a magazine, something like that.
B: Sometimes the excitement of being with other people is enough, but as the years go by you need a book, or you see a film, or you have one of those dirty magazines, so you close your eyes and you fantasize about these things.
The effectiveness of erotic stimuli in creating sexual arousal has been noted by Gillan (1977). The use of erotica by these participants was restricted to masturbation in the main. Jim is aware of a heightened level of arousal during masturbation as compared to sex with his partner.
During sex with his partner, Jim fails to achieve levels of erotic arousal sufficient to trigger orgasm, during masturbation the use of erotica significantly increases levels of erotic arousal and orgasm is achieved. Fantasy and erotica increased erotic arousal and were used freely during masturbation but its use was restricted during sex with a partner.
Many participants ‘could not imagine’ masturbating without the use of fantasy or erotica, and many recognized the need progressively to extend fantasies (Slosarz, 1992) in an attempt to maintain levels of arousal and prevent ‘boredom’. Jack describes how he has become desensitized to his own fantasies:
J: Latterly in the last five, ten years, I, I, I’d be hard pushed to get stimulated enough by any fantasy that I might create myself.
Based on erotica, Jack’s fantasies have become highly stylised; scenarios involving women with a specific ‘body type’ in particular forms of stimulation. The reality of Jack’s situation and partners is very different, and fails to match his ideal created on the basis of porno perception (Slosarz, 1992); the real partner may not be erotically arousing enough.
Paul compares the progressive extension of his fantasies to his need for progressively ‘stronger’ erotica to produce the same response:
P: You get bored, it’s like those blue movies; you’ve got to get stronger and stronger stuff all the time, to cheer yourself up.
By changing the content, Paul’s fantasies retain their erotic impact; despite masturbating several times a day, he explains:
P: You can’t keep doing the same thing, you get bored with one scenario and so you’ve got to (change) – which I was always good at ’cause . . . I always lived in a land of dreams.
From the summary sections of the paper:
This critical analysis of participants’ experiences during both masturbation and partner sex has demonstrated the presence of a dysfunctional sexual response during sex with a partner, and a functional sexual response during masturbation. Two interrelated theories emerged and are summarized here… During partner sex, dysfunctional participants focus on non-relevant cognitions; cognitive interference distracts from the ability to focus on erotic cues. Sensate awareness is impaired and the sexual response cycle is interrupted resulting in sexual dysfunction.
In the absence of functional partner sex, these participants have become masturbation dependant. Sexual response has become conditional; learning theory does not postulate specific conditions, it merely identifies conditions of acquisition of the behaviour. This study has highlighted frequency and technique of masturbation, and the ability to focus on task relevant cognitions (supported by the use of fantasy and erotica during masturbation), as such conditional factors.
This study has highlighted the relevance of detailed questioning in two main areas; behaviour and cognitions. Firstly details of the specific nature of masturbatory frequency, technique and accompanying erotica and fantasy provided an understanding of how the individual’s sexual response has become conditional on a narrow set of stimuli; such conditioning appears to exacerbate difficulties during sex with a partner. It is acknowledged that as part of their formulation, practitioners routinely ask whether an individual masturbates: this study suggests that also asking precisely how the individual’s idiosyncratic masturbatory style has developed provides relevant information
9) The Dual Control Model – The Role Of Sexual Inhibition & Excitation In Sexual Arousal And Behavior (2007)
Recently rediscovered and very convincing. In an experiment employing video porn, 50% of the young men couldn’t become aroused or achieve erections with porn (average age was 29). The shocked researchers discovered that the men’s erectile dysfunction was,
“related to high levels of exposure to and experience with sexually explicit materials.“
The men experiencing erectile dysfunction had spent a considerable amount of time in bars and bathhouses where porn was “omnipresent,” and “continuously playing“. The researchers stated:
“Conversations with the subjects reinforced our idea that in some of them a high exposure to erotica seemed to have resulted in a lower responsivity to “vanilla sex” erotica and an increased need for novelty and variation, in some cases combined with a need for very specific types of stimuli in order to get aroused.”
10) Clinical encounters with internet pornography (2008)
Comprehensive paper, with four clinical cases, written by a psychiatrist who became aware of the negative effects internet porn was having on some of his male patients. The excerpt below describes a 31 year old man who escalated into extreme porn and developed porn-induced sexual tastes and sexual problems. This is one of the first peer-reviewed papers to depict porn use leading to tolerance, escalation, and sexual dysfunctions:
A 31-year-old male in analytic psychotherapy for mixed anxiety problems reported that he was experiencing difficulty becoming sexually aroused by his current partner. After much discussion about the woman, their relationship, possible latent conflicts or repressed emotional content (without arriving at a satisfactory explanation for his complaint), he provided the detail that he was relying on a particular fantasy to become aroused. Somewhat chagrined, he described a “scene” of an orgy involving several men and women that he had found on an Internet pornography site that had caught his fancy and become one of his favorites. Over the course of several sessions, he elaborated upon his use of Internet pornography, an activity in which he had engaged sporadically since his mid-20s.
Relying on porn
Relevant details about his use and the effects over time included clear descriptions of an increasing reliance on viewing and then recalling pornographic images in order to become sexually aroused. He also described the development of a “tolerance” to the arousing effects of any particular material after a period of time, which was followed by a search for new material with which he could achieve the prior, desired level of sexual arousal.
As we reviewed his use of pornography, it became evident that the arousal problems with his current partner coincided with use of pornography, whereas his “tolerance” to the stimulating effects of particular material occurred whether or not he was involved with a partner at the time or was simply using pornography for masturbation. His anxiety about sexual performance contributed to his reliance on viewing pornography. Unaware that the use itself had become problematic, he had interpreted his waning sexual interest in a partner to mean that she was not right for him, and had not had a relationship of greater than two months’ duration in over seven years, exchanging one partner for another just as he might change websites.
He also noted that he now could be aroused by pornographic material that he once had no interest in using. For example, he noted that five years ago he had little interest in viewing images of anal intercourse but now found such material stimulating. Similarly, material that he described as “edgier,” by which he meant “almost violent or coercive,” was something that now elicited a sexual response from him, whereas such material had been of no interest and was even off-putting. With some of these new subjects, he found himself anxious and uncomfortable even as he would become aroused.
11) Exploring the Relationship Between Erotic Disruption During the Latency Period and the Use of Sexually Explicit Material, Online Sexual Behaviors, and Sexual Dysfunctions in Young Adulthood (2009)
Study examined correlations between current porn use (sexually explicit material – SEM) and sexual dysfunctions, and porn use during “latency period” (ages 6-12) and sexual dysfunctions. The average age of participants was 22. While current porn use correlated with sexual dysfunctions, porn use during latency (ages 6-12) had an even stronger correlation with sexual dysfunctions. A few excerpts:
Findings suggested that latency erotic disruption by way of sexually explicit material (SEM) and/or child sexual abuse may be associated to adult online sexual behaviors.
Furthermore, results demonstrated that latency SEM exposure was a significant predictor of adult sexual dysfunctions.
We hypothesized that exposure to latency SEM exposure would predict adult use of SEM. Study findings supported our hypothesis, and demonstrated that latency SEM exposure was a statistically significant predictor of adult SEM use. This suggested that individuals who were exposed to SEM during latency, may continue this behavior into adulthood. Study findings also indicated that latency SEM exposure was a significant predictor of adult online sexual behaviors.
12) Use of pornography in a random sample of Norwegian heterosexual couples (2009)
Porn use was correlated with more sexual dysfunctions in the man and negative self perception in the female. The couples who did not use porn had no sexual dysfunctions. A few excerpts from the study:
In couples where only one partner used pornography, we found more problems related to arousal (male) and negative (female) self-perception.
In those couples where one partner used pornography there was a permissive erotic climate. At the same time, these couples seemed to have more dysfunctions.
The couples who did not use pornography... may be considered more traditional in relation to the theory of sexual scripts. At the same time, they did not seem to have any dysfunctions.
Couples who both reported pornography use grouped to the positive pole on the ‘‘Erotic climate’’ function and somewhat to the negative pole on the ‘‘Dysfunctions’’ function.
13) Cyber-porn dependence: voices of distress in an Italian internet self-help community (2009)
This study reports on a narrative analysis of two thousand messages written by 302 members of an Italian self-help group for cyberdependents (noallapornodipendenza). It sampled 400 messages from each year (2003–2007). Excerpts relevant to porn-induced sexual dysfunctions:
For many their condition is reminiscent of an addicted escalation with new levels of tolerance. Many of them in fact search for increasingly more explicit, bizarre and violent images, bestiality included….
Many members complain about increased impotence and lack of ejaculation, feeling in their real life like “a dead man walking” (“vivalavita” #5014). The following example concretizes their perceptions (“sul” #4411)….
Many participants stated that they usually spend hours looking at and collecting pictures and movies holding their erect penis in their hand, unable to ejaculate, waiting for the ultimate, extreme image to release the tension. For many the final ejaculation puts an end to their torture (supplizio) (“incercadiliberta” #5026)…
Lack of interest
Problems in heterosexual relations are more than frequent. People complain they have erection problems, lack of sexual relations with their spouses, lack of interest in sexual intercourse, feeling like a person who has eaten hot, spicy food, and consequently cannot eat ordinary food. In many cases, as also reported by spouses of cyber dependents, there are indications of male orgasmic disorder with the inability to ejaculate during intercourse. This sense of desensitization in sexual relationships is well expressed in the following passage (“vivaleiene” #6019):
Last week I had an intimate relation with my girlfriend; nothing bad at all, despite the fact after the first kiss I didn’t feel any sensation. We didn’t finish the copulation because I didn’t want to.
Many participants expressed their real interest in “chatting on line” or “telematic contact” instead of physical touch, and a pervasive and unpleasant presence of pornographic flashbacks in their mind, during sleep and during sexual intercourse.
As stressed, the claim of a real sexual dysfunction is echoed by many testimonials from female partners. But also forms of collusion and contamination appear in these narratives. Here are a few of the most striking comments of these female partners…
Most of the messages sent to the Italian self help group do indicate the presence of pathology by those participants, according to the model of salience (in real life), mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms and interpersonal conflict, a diagnostic model developed by Griffiths (2004)….
14) Sexual Desire, not Hypersexuality, is Related to Neurophysiological Responses Elicited by Sexual Images (2013)
This EEG study was touted in the media as evidence against the existence of porn/sex addiction. Not so. Steele et al. 2013 actually lends support to the existence of both porn addiction and porn use down-regulating sexual desire. How so? The study reported higher EEG readings (relative to neutral pictures) when subjects were briefly exposed to pornographic photos. Studies consistently show that an elevated P300 occurs when addicts are exposed to cues (such as images) related to their addiction.
In line with the Cambridge University brain scan studies, this EEG study also reported greater cue-reactivity to porn correlating with less desire for partnered sex. To put it another way – individuals with greater brain activation to porn would rather masturbate to porn than have sex with a real person. Shockingly, study spokesperson Nicole Prause claimed that porn users merely had “high libido,” yet the results of the study say the exact opposite (subjects’ desire for partnered sex was dropping in relation to their porn use).
Together these two Steele et al. findings indicate greater brain activity to cues (porn images), yet less reactivity to natural rewards (sex with a person). That”s sensitization & desensitization, which are hallmarks of an addiction. Eight peer-reviewed papers explain the truth: Also see this extensive YBOP critique.
15) Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption: The Brain on Porn (2014)
A Max Planck study which found 3 significant addiction-related brain changes correlating with the amount of porn consumed. It also found that the more porn consumed the less reward circuit activity in response to brief exposure (.530 second) to vanilla porn. In a 2014 article lead author Simone Kühn said:
“We assume that subjects with a high porn consumption need increasing stimulation to receive the same amount of reward. That could mean that regular consumption of pornography more or less wears out your reward system. That would fit perfectly the hypothesis that their reward systems need growing stimulation.”
A more technical description of this study from a review of the literature by Kuhn & Gallinat – Neurobiological Basis of Hypersexuality (2016).
“The more hours participants reported consuming pornography, the smaller the BOLD response in left putamen in response to sexual images. Moreover, we found that more hours spent watching pornography was associated with smaller gray matter volume in the striatum, more precisely in the right caudate reaching into the ventral putamen. We speculate that the brain structural volume deficit may reflect the results of tolerance after desensitization to sexual stimuli.”
16) Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours (2014)
This fMRI study by Cambridge University found sensitization in porn addicts which mirrored sensitization in drug addicts. It also found that porn addicts fit the accepted addiction model of wanting “it” more, but not liking “it” more. The researchers also reported that 60% of subjects (average age: 25) had difficulty achieving erections/arousal with real partners as a result of using porn, yet could achieve erections with porn. From the study (“CSB” is compulsive sexual behaviours):
“CSB subjects reported that as a result of excessive use of sexually explicit materials…..[they] experienced diminished libido or erectile function specifically in physical relationships with women (although not in relationship to the sexually explicit material)”
“Compared to healthy volunteers, CSB subjects had greater subjective sexual desire or wanting to explicit cues and had greater liking scores to erotic cues, thus demonstrating a dissociation between wanting and liking. CSB subjects also had greater impairments of sexual arousal and erectile difficulties in intimate relationships but not with sexually explicit materials highlighting that the enhanced desire scores were specific to the explicit cues and not generalized heightened sexual desire.”
17) Modulation of Late Positive Potentials by Sexual Images in Problem Users and Controls Inconsistent with “Porn Addiction” (2015)
A second EEG study from Nicole Prause’s team. This study compared the 2013 subjects from Steele et al., 2013 to an actual control group (yet it suffered from the same methodological flaws named above). The results: Compared to controls “individuals experiencing problems regulating their porn viewing” had lower brain responses to one-second exposure to photos of vanilla porn. The lead author claims these results “debunk porn addiction.” What legitimate scientist would claim that their lone anomalous study has debunked a well established field of study?
In reality, the findings of Prause et al. 2015 align perfectly with Kühn & Gallinat (2014), which found that more porn use correlated with less brain activation in response to pictures of vanilla porn. Prause et al. findings also align with Banca et al. 2015. Moreover, another EEG study found that greater porn use in women correlated with less brain activation to porn. Lower EEG readings mean that subjects are paying less attention to the pictures. Put simply, frequent porn users were desensitized to static images of vanilla porn. They were bored (habituated or desensitized). See this extensive YBOP critique. Nine peer-reviewed papers agree that this study actually found desensitization/habituation in frequent porn users (consistent with addiction): Peer-reviewed critiques of Prause et al., 2015
18) Adolescents and web porn: a new era of sexuality (2015)
This Italian study analyzed the effects of Internet porn on high school seniors, co-authored by urology professor Carlo Foresta, president of the Italian Society of Reproductive Pathophysiology. The most interesting finding is that 16% of those who consume porn more than once a week report abnormally low sexual desire compared with 0% in non-consumers (and 6% for those who consume less than once a week). From the study:
“21.9% define it as habitual, 10% report that it reduces sexual interest towards potential real-life partners, and the remaining, 9.1% report a kind of addiction. In addition, 19% of overall pornography consumers report an abnormal sexual response, while the percentage rose to 25.1% among regular consumers.“
19) Patient Characteristics by Type of Hypersexuality Referral: A Quantitative Chart Review of 115 Consecutive Male Cases (2015)
A study on men (average age 41.5) with hypersexuality disorders, such as paraphilias, chronic masturbation or adultery. 27 of the men were classified as “avoidant masturbators,” meaning they masturbated (typically with porn use) one or more hours per day, or more than 7 hours per week. 71% of the men who chronically masturbated to porn reported sexual functioning problems, with 33% reporting delayed ejaculation (a precursor to porn-induced ED).
What sexual dysfunction do 38% of the remaining men have? The study doesn’t say, and the authors have ignored repeated requests for details. Two primary choices for male sexual dysfunction are erectile dysfunction and low libido. It should be noted that the men were not asked about their erectile functioning without porn. This, if all their sexual activity involved masturbating to porn, and not sex with a partner, they might never realize they had porn-induced ED. (For reasons known only to her, Prause cites this paper as debunking the existence of porn-induced sexual dysfunctions.)
20) Men’s Sexual Life and Repeated Exposure to Pornography. A New Issue? (2015)
Mental health specialists should take in consideration the possible effects of pornography consumption on men sexual behaviors, men sexual difficulties and other attitudes related to sexuality. In the long term pornography seems to create sexual dysfunctions, especially the individual’s inability to reach an orgasm with his partner. Someone who spends most of his sexual life masturbating while watching porn engages his brain in rewiring its natural sexual sets (Doidge, 2007) so that it will soon need visual stimulation to achieve an orgasm.
Many different symptoms of porn consumption, such as the need to involve a partner in watching porn, the difficulty in reaching orgasm, the need for porn images in order to ejaculate turn into sexual problems. These sexual behaviors may go on for months or years and it may be mentally and bodily associated with the erectile dysfunction, although it is not an organic dysfunction. Because of this confusion, which generates embarrassment, shame and denial, lots of men refuse to encounter a specialist
Pornography offers a very simple alternative to obtain pleasure without implying other factors that were involved in human’s sexuality along the history of mankind. The brain develops an alternative path for sexuality which excludes “the other real person” from the equation. Furthermore, pornography consumption in a long term makes men more prone to difficulties in obtaining an erection in a presence of their partners.
21) Masturbation and Pornography Use Among Coupled Heterosexual Men With Decreased Sexual Desire: How Many Roles of Masturbation? (2015)
Masturbating to porn was related with decreased sexual desire and low relationship intimacy. Excerpts:
Among men who masturbated frequently, 70% used pornography at least once a week. A multivariate assessment showed that sexual boredom, frequent pornography use, and low relationship intimacy significantly increased the odds of reporting frequent masturbation among coupled men with decreased sexual desire.
Among men [with decreased sexual desire] who used pornography at least once a week [in 2011], 26.1% reported that they were unable to control their pornography use. In addition, 26.7% of men reported that their use of pornography negatively affected their partnered sex and 21.1% claimed to have attempted to stop using pornography.
22) Erectile Dysfunction, Boredom, and Hypersexuality among Coupled Men from Two European Countries (2015)
Survey reported a strong correlation between erectile dysfunction and measures of hypersexuality. The study omitted correlation data between erectile functioning and pornography use, but noted a significant correlation. An excerpt:
Among Croatian and German men, hypersexuality was significantly correlated with proneness to sexual boredom and more problems with erectile function.
23) An Online Assessment of Personality, Psychological, and Sexuality Trait Variables Associated with Self-Reported Hypersexual Behavior (2015)
Survey reported a common theme found in several other studies listed here: Porn/sex addicts report greater arousabilty (cravings related to their addiction) combined with poorer sexual function (fear of experiencing erectile dysfunction).
Hypersexual” behavior represents a perceived inability to control one’s sexual behavior. To investigate hypersexual behavior, an international sample of 510 self-identified heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual men and women completed an anonymous online self-report questionnaire battery.
Thus, the data indicated that hypersexual behavior is more common for males, and those who report being younger in age, more easily sexually excited, more sexually inhibited due to the threat of performance failure, less sexually inhibited due to the threat of performance consequences, and more impulsive, anxious, and depressed
24) Online sexual activities: An exploratory study of problematic and non-problematic usage patterns in a sample of men (2016)
This Belgian study from a leading research university found problematic Internet porn use was associated with reduced erectile function and reduced overall sexual satisfaction. Yet problematic porn users experienced greater cravings. The study appears to report escalation, as 49% of the men viewed porn that “was not previously interesting to them or that they considered disgusting.” (See studies reporting habituation/desensitization to porn and escalation of porn use) Excerpts:
“This study is the first to directly investigate the relationships between sexual dysfunctions and problematic involvement in OSAs. Results indicated that higher sexual desire, lower overall sexual satisfaction, and lower erectile function were associated with problematic OSAs (online sexual activities). These results can be linked to those of previous studies reporting a high level of arousability in association with sexual addiction symptoms (Bancroft & Vukadinovic, 2004; Laier et al., 2013; Muise et al., 2013).”
Asking porn users about escalation
In addition, we finally have a study that asks porn users about possible escalation to new or disturbing porn genres. Guess what it found?
“Forty-nine percent mentioned at least sometimes searching for sexual content or being involved in OSAs that were not previously interesting to them or that they considered disgusting, and 61.7% reported that at least sometimes OSAs were associated with shame or guilty feelings.”
Note – This is the first study to directly investigate the relationships between sexual dysfunctions and problematic porn use. Two other studies claiming to have investigated correlations between porn use and erectile functioning cobbled together data from earlier studies in an unsuccessful attempt to debunk porn-induced ED. Both were criticized in the peer-reviewed literature: paper #1 was not an authentic study, and has been thoroughly discredited; paper #2 actually found correlations that support porn-induced sexual dysfunction. Moreover, paper 2 was only a “brief communication” that did not report important data which the authors reported at a sexology conference.
25) The effects of sexually explicit material use on romantic relationship dynamics (2016)
As with many other studies, solitary porn users report poorer relationship and sexual satisfaction. An excerpt:
More specifically, couples, where no one used, reported more relationship satisfaction than those couples that had individual users. This is consistent with the previous research (Cooper et al., 1999; Manning, 2006), demonstrating that the solitary use of SEM results in negative consequences.
Employing the Pornography Consumption Effect Scale (PCES), the study found that higher porn use was related to poorer sexual function, more sexual problems, and a “worse sex life”. An excerpt describing the correlation between the PCES “Negative Effects” on “Sex Life” questions and frequency of porn use:
There were no significant differences for the Negative Effect Dimension PCES across the frequency of sexually explicit material use; however, there were significant differences on the Sex Life subscale where High Frequency Porn Users reported greater negative effects than Low Frequency Porn Users.
26) Altered Appetitive Conditioning and Neural Connectivity in Subjects With Compulsive Sexual Behavior (2016)
“Compulsive Sexual Behaviors” (CSB) means the men were porn addicts, because CSB subjects averaged nearly 20 hours of porn use per week. The controls averaged 29 minutes per week. Interestingly, 3 of the 20 CSB subjects mentioned to interviewers that they suffered from “orgasmic-erection disorder,” while none of the control subjects reported sexual problems.
27) Associative pathways between pornography consumption and reduced sexual satisfaction (2017)
This study is found in both lists. While it links porn use to lower sexual satisfaction, it also reported that frequency of porn use was related to a preference (or need?) for porn over people to achieve sexual arousal. An excerpt:
Finally, we found that frequency of pornography consumption was also directly related to a relative preference for pornographic rather than partnered sexual excitement. Participants in the present study primarily consumed pornography for masturbation. Thus, this finding could be indicative of a masturbatory conditioning effect (Cline, 1994; Malamuth, 1981; Wright, 2011). The more frequently pornography is used as an arousal tool for masturbation, the more an individual may become conditioned to pornographic as opposed to other sources of sexual arousal.
28) “I think it has been a negative influence in many ways but at the same time I can’t stop using it”: Self-identified problematic pornography use among a sample of young Australians (2017)
Online survey of Australians, aged 15-29. Those who had ever viewed pornography (n=856) were asked in an open-ended question: ‘How has pornography influenced your life?’.
Among participants who responded to the open-ended question (n=718), problematic usage was self-identified by 88 respondents. Male participants who reported problematic usage of pornography highlighted effects in three areas: on sexual function, arousal and relationships. Responses included “I think it has been a negative influence in many ways but at the same time I can’t stop using it” (Male, Aged 18–19). Some female participants also reported problematic usage, with many of these reporting negative feelings like guilt and shame, impact on sexual desire and compulsions relating to their use of pornography. For example as one female participant suggested; “It makes me feel guilty, and I’m trying to stop. I don’t like how I feel that I need it to get myself going, it’s not healthy.” (Female, Aged 18–19)
29) Organic and psychogenic causes of sexual dysfunction in young men (2017)
A narrative review, with a section called “Role of Pornography in Delayed Ejaculation (DE)”. An excerpt from this section:
Role of Pornography in DE
Over the last decade, a large increase in the prevalence and accessibility of Internet pornography has provided increased causes of DE associated with Althof’s second and third theory. Reports from 2008 found on average 14.4% of boys were exposed to pornography before the age of 13 and 5.2% of people viewed pornography at least daily. A 2016 study revealed that these values had both increased to 48.7% and 13.2%, respectively. An earlier age of first pornographic exposure contributes to DE through its relationship with patients exhibiting CSB.
Voon et al. found that young men with CSB had viewed sexually explicit material at an earlier age than their age-controlled healthy peers. As previously mentioned, young men with CSB can fall victim to Althof’s third theory of DE and preferentially choose masturbation over partnered sex due to a lack of arousal in relationships. An increased number of men watching pornographic material daily also contributes to DE through Althof’s third theory.
In a study of 487 male college students, Sun et al. found associations between the use of pornography and a decreased self-reported enjoyment of sexually intimate behaviors with real-life partners. These individuals are at an elevated risk of preferentially choosing masturbation over sexual encounters, as demonstrated in a case report by Park et al. A 20-year-old enlisted male presented with difficulty achieving orgasm with his fiancée for the previous six months. A detailed sexual history revealed that the patient relied on Internet pornography and use of a sex toy described as a “fake vagina” to masturbate while deployed. Over time, he required content of an increasingly graphic or fetish nature to orgasm. He admitted that he found his fiancée attractive but preferred the feeling of his toy because he found it more stimulating that real intercourse.
An increase in the accessibility of Internet pornography places younger men at risk of developing DE through Althof’s second theory, as demonstrated in the following case report: Bronner et al. interviewed a 35-year-old healthy man presenting with complaints of no desire to have sex with his girlfriend despite being mentally and sexually attracted to her. A detailed sexual history revealed that this scenario had happened with the past 20 women he tried to date. He reported extensive use of pornography since adolescence that initially consisted of zoophilia, bondage, sadism, and masochism, but eventually progressed to transgender sex, orgies, and violent sex. He would visualize the pornographic scenes in his imagination to function sexually with women, but that gradually stopped working. The gap between the patient’s pornographic fantasies and real life became too large, causing a loss of desire.
According to Althof, this will present as DE in some patients. This recurring theme of requiring pornographic content of an increasingly graphic or fetish nature to orgasm is defined by Park et al. as hyperactivity. As a man sensitizes his sexual arousal to pornography, sex in real life no longer activates the proper neurological pathways to ejaculate (or produce sustained erections in the case of ED).
30) Pornography increasingly damaging health and relationships says Brno’s University Hospital study (2018)
It’s in Czech. This YBOP page contains a short press release in English. It also has a choppy Google translation of the longer press release from the hospital website. A few excerpts from the press release:
Increased use of and exposure to pornography are increasingly damaging normal relations and even the health of young men, according to a study released Monday by Brno’s University Hospital.
It said many young men were simply not prepared for normal relationships because of the myths created by the pornography they were watching. Many men turned on by pornography could not physically get stimulated in a relationship, the study added. Psychological and even medical treatment was required, the report said.
In the Sexological department of the Faculty Hospital in Brno, we also record more and more frequent cases of young men who are not able to have a normal sex life as a result of pornography, or to establish a relationship.
The fact that pornography is not merely a “diversification” of sex life but often has a negative impact on the quality of partner sexuality is evidenced by the increasing number of patients in the Sexual Section of Brno University Hospital who, due to excessive monitoring of inappropriate sexual content, are getting into health and relationship problems.
In middle age, male partners are replacing partner sex with pornography (masturbation is available anytime, faster, without psychological, physical or material investment). At the same time, sensitivity to normal (real) sexual stimuli accompanied by the risk of having sex-related dysfunctions associated only with a partner is significantly reduced by the monitoring of pornography. This is a risk of intimacy and proximity in the relationship, ie the psychological separation of partners, the need for masturbation on the Internet is gradually increasing – the risk of addiction increases and, last but not least, sexuality can change in its intensity but also in the quality of normal pornography is not enough, and these people resort to perversion (eg, sado-masochistic or zoophilous).
As a result, excessive monitoring of pornography may result in addiction, which is manifested by sexual dysfunction, disorder of relationships leading to social isolation, disrupted concentration, or neglect of work responsibilities, where only sex plays a dominant role in life.
31) Sexual Dysfunctions in the Internet Era (2018)
Low sexual desire, reduced satisfaction in sexual intercourse, and erectile dysfunction (ED) are increasingly common in young population. In an Italian study from 2013, up to 25% of subjects suffering from ED were under the age of 40, and in a similar study published in 2014, more than half of Canadian sexually experienced men between the age of 16 and 21 suffered from some kind of sexual disorder. At the same time, prevalence of unhealthy lifestyles associated with organic ED has not changed significantly or has decreased in the last decades, suggesting that psychogenic ED is on the rise.
The DSM-IV-TR defines some behaviors with hedonic qualities, such as gambling, shopping, sexual behaviors, Internet use, and video game use, as “impulse control disorders not elsewhere classified”—although these are often described as behavioral addictions. Recent investigation has suggested the role of behavioral addiction in sexual dysfunctions: alterations in neurobiological pathways involved in sexual response might be a consequence of repeated, supernormal stimuli of various origins.
Among behavioral addictions, problematic Internet use and online pornography consumption are often cited as possible risk factors for sexual dysfunction, often with no definite boundary between the two phenomena. Online users are attracted to Internet pornography because of its anonymity, affordability, and accessibility, and in many cases its usage could lead users through a cybersex addiction: in these cases, users are more likely to forget the “evolutionary” role of sex, finding more excitement in self-selected sexually explicit material than in intercourse.
In literature, researchers are discordant about positive and negative function of online pornography. From the negative perspective, it represents the principal cause of compulsive masturbatory behavior, cybersex addiction, and even erectile dysfunction.
32) Gender Differences in the Relationship of Sexual Functioning With Implicit and Explicit Sex Liking and Sex Wanting: A Community Sample Study (2018)
Note: The study did not assess levels of porn use or porn addiction. However, it reported that better sexual functioning was related to lower cue-reactivity (“Implicit Liking”):
In male participants, higher levels of sexual functioning co-occurred with lower implicit liking of erotic stimuli
The authors hypothesized that porn use may have played a part:
The initially counterintuitive link in men between low implicit sex liking and higher level of sexual functioning, which was found both in the present study and the two previous ST-IAT investigations in clinical samples (van Lankveld, de Jong, et al., 2018; van Lankveld et al., 2015), provokes speculation….. The erotic stimuli in the ST-IAT depicted anonymous porn actors. A possible explanation might be that men with a history of unsuccessful and disappointing sexual encounters do not experience their own partner as a positive sexual stimulus even though they have a strong positive appreciation of sexual stimuli in general.
A strong, positive implicit association with this type of stimuli in men with lower levels of sexual functioning might be the end stage of a learning process (Georgiadis et al., 2012). Such an end stage might result from frequent exposure to explicit pornography and the linkage of these stimuli with the rewards procured by orgasm through masturbation, as opposed to unrewarding sexual experiences with their partners.
Alternatively, the associations of sexual stimuli with positive valence, such as in men with low levels of sexual functioning, might represent a strong desire for the sexual interactions as were displayed in the erotic pictures. The discrepancy between this desire and their actual sexual interactions might, in fact, be one of the driving forces of their dysfunctional sexual experiences
33) Is Pornography Use Related to Erectile Functioning? Results From Cross-Sectional and Latent Growth Curve Analyses” (2019)
The researcher who saddled humankind with “perceived pornography addiction” and claimed it somehow “functions very differently from other addictions,” has now turned his dexterity to porn-induced ED. Even though this Joshua Grubbs-penned study found correlations between poorer sexual functioning and both porn addiction and porn use (while excluding sexually inactive men and thus many men with ED), the paper reads as if it has completely debunked porn-induced ED (PIED). This man-oeuvre comes as no surprise to those who have followed the earlier dubious claims of Dr. Grubbs in relation to his “perceived pornography addiction” campaign. See this extensive analysis for the facts.
Choosing the right sample
While the Grubbs paper consistently downplays the correlations between higher pornography use and poorer erections, correlations were reported in all 3 groups – especially for sample 3, which was the most relevant sample as it was the largest sample and averaged higher levels of porn use. Most importantly, this sample’s age range is the most likely to report PIED. Not surprisingly, sample 3 had the strongest correlation between higher levels of porn use and poorer erectile functioning (–0.37). Below are the 3 groups, with their average daily minutes of porn viewing and the correlations between erectile functioning amount of use (a negative sign means poorer erections linked to greater porn use):
- Sample 1 (147 men): average age 19.8 – Averaged 22 minutes of porn/day. (–0.18)
- Sample 2 (297 men): average age 46.5 – Averaged 13 minutes of porn/day. (–0.05)
- Sample 3 (433 men): average age 33.5 – Averaged 45 minutes of porn/day. (–0.37)
Fairly straightforward results: the sample that used the most porn (#3) had the strongest correlation between greater porn use and poorer erections, while the group that use the least (#2) had the weakest correlation between greater porn use and poorer erections. Why didn’t Grubbs emphasize this pattern in his write-up, instead of using statistical manipulations to try to make it disappear?
- Sample #1: Average age 19.8 – Note that 19-year old porn users rarely report chronic porn-induced (especially when only using 22 minutes a day). The vast majority of porn-induced ED recovery stories YBOP has gathered are by men aged 20-40. It generally takes time to develop PIED.
- Sample #2: Average age 46.5 – They averaged only 13 minutes per day! With a standard deviation of 15.3 years, some portion of these men were fifty-something. These older men did not start out using internet porn during adolescence (making them less vulnerable to conditioning their sexual arousal solely to internet porn). Indeed, just as Grubbs found, the sexual health of slightly older men has always been better and more resilient over all, than users who began using digital porn during adolescence (such as those with an average age of 33 in sample 3).
- Sample #3: Average age 33.5 – As already mentioned, sample 3 was the largest sample and averaged higher levels of porn use. Most importantly, this age range is the most likely to report PIED. Not surprisingly, sample 3 had the strongest correlation between higher levels of porn use and poorer erectile functioning (–0.37).
Porn addiction and poorer erectile functioning
Grubbs also correlated porn addiction scores with erectile functioning. The results reveal that even in subjects with relatively healthy erectile functioning, porn addiction was significantly related to poorer erections. The scores were –0.20 to –0.33. As before, the strongest correlation between porn addiction and poorer erections (–0.33) occurred in Grubbs’s largest sample. This was the sample of an average age most likely to report porn-induced ED: sample 3, average age: 33.5 (433 subjects).
Wait a minute you ask, how dare I say significantly related? Doesn’t the Grubbs study confidently declare that the relationship was only “small to moderate,” meaning it’s no big deal? As we explored in the critique, Grubbs’s use of descriptors varies remarkably, depending upon which Grubbs study you read. If the Grubbs study is about porn use causing ED, then the above numbers represent a meager correlation, tossed aside in his spin-laden write-up.
However, if it’s Grubbs’s most famous study (“Transgression as Addiction: Religiosity and Moral Disapproval as Predictors of Perceived Addiction to Pornography“), where he proclaimed that being religious was the real cause of “porn addiction,” then numbers smaller than these constitute a “robust relationship.” In fact, Grubbs’s “robust” correlation between religiosity and “perceived pornography addiction” was only 0.30! Yet he audaciously used it to usher in a completely new, and questionable, model of porn addiction.
In the Dr. Grubbs bizzaro-stats world view, 0.37 is not detectable (correlation between porn use & poorer erectile functioning), while 0.30 is robust (correlation between religiosity & perceived porn addiction).
The tables, correlations and details referred to here are found in this section of a longer YBOP analysis.
34) Survey of Sexual Function and Pornography (2019)
In this study, researchers looked for a link between ED and indices of pornography addiction using a “craving” questionnaire. While no such link turned up, some other interesting correlations appeared in their results. The null result may be because users don’t accurately assess their degree of “craving” until they attempt to quit using. Excerpts:
Rates of erectile dysfunction were lowest in those [men] preferring partnered sex without pornography (22.3%) and increased significantly when pornography was preferred over partnered sex (78%).
…Pornography and sexual dysfunction are common among young people.
…Those [men] who used on an almost daily basis or more had ED rates of 44% (12/27) compared to 22% (47/213) for those more “casual” users (≤5x/week), reaching significance on univariate analysis (p=0.017). It may be that volume does play a role to some extent.
Physiology of PIED
…The proposed pathophysiology of PIED seems plausible and is based on a variety of researchers work and not a small collection of researchers that might be swayed by an ethical bias. Also supporting the “causation” side of the argument are reports of men regaining normal sexual function after discontinuation of excessive pornography use.
…Only prospective studies will be able to definitively solve the question of causation or association, including interventional studies evaluating the success of abstention in treating ED in heavy pornography users. Additional populations that warrant special consideration include adolescents. There has been concern raised that early exposure to graphic sexual material may affect normal development. The rate of teenagers being exposed to pornography before the age of 13 has gone up three fold over the last decade, and now hovers around 50%.
The above study was presented at the American Urological Association’s 2017 meeting. A few excerpts from this article about it – Study sees link between porn and sexual dysfunction (2017):
Young men who prefer pornography to real-world sexual encounters might find themselves caught in a trap, unable to perform sexually with other people when the opportunity presents itself, a new study reports. Porn-addicted men are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction and are less likely to be satisfied with sexual intercourse, according to survey findings presented Friday at the American Urological Association’s annual meeting, in Boston.
“The rates of organic causes of erectile dysfunction in this age cohort are extremely low, so the increase in erectile dysfunction that we have seen over time for this group needs to be explained,” Christman said. “We believe that pornography use may be one piece to that puzzle”.
35) Sexual Dysfunction in the New Father: Sexual Intimacy Issues (2018)
This chapter from a new medical textbook entitled Paternal Postnatal Psychiatric Illnesses addresses porn’s impact on the sexual function of a new father, citing a paper co-authored by this website’s host, “Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports.” This page contains screenshots of relevant excerpts from the chapter.
36) Prevalence, Patterns and Self-Perceived Effects of Pornography Consumption in Polish University Students: A Cross-Sectional Study (2019)
Large study (n = 6463) on male & female college students (median age 22) reports relatively high levels of porn addiction (15%), escalation of porn use (tolerance), withdrawal symptoms, and porn-related sexual & relationship problems. Relevant excerpts:
The most common self-perceived adverse effects of pornography use included: the need for longer stimulation (12.0%) and more sexual stimuli (17.6%) to reach orgasm, and a decrease in sexual satisfaction (24.5%)…
The present study also suggests that earlier exposure may be associated with potential desensitization to sexual stimuli as indicated by a need for longer stimulation and more sexual stimuli required to reach orgasm when consuming explicit material, and overall decrease in sexual satisfaction…
Various changes of pattern of pornography use occurring in the course of the exposure period were reported: switching to a novel genre of explicit material (46.0%), use of materials that do not match sexual orientation (60.9%) and need to use more extreme (violent) material (32.0%)…
37) Sexual and reproductive health and rights in Sweden 2017 (2019)
A 2017 survey by The Swedish Public Health Authority contains a section discussing their findings on pornography. Relevant here, greater pornography use was related to poorer sexual health and decreased sexual dissatisfaction. Excerpts:
Forty-one percent of men aged 16 to 29 are frequent users of pornography, i.e. they consume pornography on a daily basis or almost on a daily basis. The corresponding percent among women is 3 percent. Our results also show an association between frequent pornography consumption and poorer sexual health, and an association with transactional sex, too high expectations of one’s sexual performance, and dissatisfaction with one’s sex life. Almost half of the population state that their pornography consumption does not affect their sex life, while a third do not know if it affects it or not. A small percentage of both women and men say their pornography use has a negative effect on their sex life. It was more common among men with higher education to regularly use pornography compared to men with lower education.
There is a need for more knowledge on the link between pornography consumption and health. An important preventive piece is to discuss the negative consequences of pornography with boys and young men, and school is a natural place to do this.
38) Internet Pornography: Addiction or Sexual Dysfunction? (2019)
Link to PDF of the chapter in Introduction to Psychosexual Medicine (2019) – White, Catherine. “Internet Pornography: Addiction or Sexual Dysfunction. Introduction to Psychosexual Medicine?” (2019)
39) Abstinence or Acceptance? A Case Series of Men’s Experiences With an Intervention Addressing Self-Perceived Problematic Pornography Use (2019)
The paper reports on six cases of men with porn addiction as they underwent a mindfulness-based intervention program (meditation, daily logs & weekly check-ins). All 6 subjects seemed to benefit from meditation. Relevant to this list of studies, 2 of 6 reported porn-induced ED. A few report escalation of use (habituation). One describes withdrawal symptoms. Excerpts from the cases reporting PIED:
Pedro (age 35):
Pedro self-reported as being a virgin. He talked about the feelings of shame he experienced with his past attempts at sexual intimacy with women. His most recent potential sexual encounter ended when his fear and anxiety prevented him from getting an erection. He attributed his sexual dysfunction to pornography use…
Pedro reported a significant decrease in pornography viewing by the end of the study and an overall improvement in mood and mental health symptoms. Despite increasing the dosage of one of his anti-anxiety medications during the study due work stress, he said he would continue meditating because of the self-reported benefits of calmness, focus, and relaxation he experienced after each session.
Pablo (age 29):
Pablo felt he had little to no control over his pornography use. He spent several hours each day ruminating on pornography, either while actively engaged in watching pornographic content or by thinking about watching pornography at the next possible opportunity when he was busy doing something else. Pablo went to a doctor with concerns about sexual dysfunctions he was experiencing, and though he disclosed concerns about his pornography use to his doctor, Pablo was instead referred to a male fertility specialist where he was given shots of testosterone. Pablo reported the testosterone intervention as having no benefit or usefulness to his sexual dysfunction, and the negative experience prevented him from reaching out for any further help with regards to his pornography use. The pre-study interview was the first time Pablo was able to converse openly with anybody regarding his pornography use…
40) Can time to ejaculation be affected by pornography? (2020)
With the ubiquitous Internet accessibility cyberpornography has never been easier to access. Research findings may support potential side effects of porn on male sexual health. The aim of this study was to investigate whether prolonged time to ejaculation was associated with porn consumption.
Men, that had been sexual active in the last four weeks, were asked about the feeling of prolonged time to ejaculation with partner and could choose from the following answers; never, less than half of times, half of times, most of times or all of times. We calculated the time in minutes per week masturbating to porn and analysed if the time masturbating to porn was different in the response categories. 3,033 men completed the questionnaire of which 687 (22.7%) where excluded as they did not have sexual activity for the last four weeks and 15 men had missing data. In total, 2,331 men (76.9%), median age 31, was used for statistical analysis regarding ejaculation with partner during the last four weeks. The differences in means and medians of time masturbating to porn between men with different responses are shown in table 1.
The Kruksal-Wallis H test showed significant differences between the response categories with significantly more time masturbating to porn in those always having an ejaculation problem compared to those who had this feeling never, less- and half of times. A clear trend was seen in men frequently having the feeling of prolonged time to ejaculation and weekly time masturbating to porn. Men who always had the feeling of prolonged time to ejaculations with partner masturbate significantly more time to porn per week than men having this feeling; never, less- or half of times.
41) Exploring the Lived Experience of Problematic Users of Internet Pornography: A Qualitative Study (2020)
A few relevant excerpts:
The participants reported experiencing symptoms of feeling “addicted” to IP. The language of dependency, i.e., “cravings,” being “sucked in,” and “habit,” was used often. Participants also reported symptoms and experiences consistent with addictive disorders such as; an inability to reduce use of IP, increased use of IP over time or needing to use more extreme forms of IP to get the same effect…
Escalation was often described as either spending more time on IP or finding it necessary to view more extreme content in order to experience the same “high” over time, as this participant disclosed, “At first, I watched relatively soft porn, and as years passed by, I moved towards more brutal and degrading kinds of porn.”
Escalation of porn use was also linked to erectile dysfunction in some of the participants, as they found that after a time, no amount or genre of porn was able to cause them to have an erection, as described in the next subtheme.
Symptoms such as erectile dysfunction- conceptualized as an inability to gain an erection without porn or with a real-life partner- were often described: “I couldn’t get an erection with women I found attractive. And even when I did, it didn’t last long at all.” These symptoms were often lamented by the participants, with one participant declaring, “It has kept me from having sex! Lots of times! Because I can’t stay erect. Enough said.”
42) EAU 2020: More Porn, Worse Erectile Function (2020)
Conference abstract describing upcoming study. A few excerpts:
Researchers from Belgium, Denmark and the UK established an online questionnaire www.malesexualhealth.be, which was advertised mainly to men in Belgium and Denmark through social media, posters and flyers. 3267 men replied to the 118 questions, answering questions about masturbation, frequency of porn watching, and sexual activity with partners. The questionnaire concentrated on men who had had sex within the previous 4 weeks, which allowed the team to relate the effect of porn watching on sexual activity. The questionnaire incorporated questions from standard erectile function and sexual health surveys (see notes).
Head researcher, Professor Gunter de Win (University of Antwerp and University Hospital Antwerp) said:
“We found that there was a big range of responses. In our sample, men watch quite a lot of porn, on average around 70 minutes per week, normally for between 5 and 15 minutes per time, with obviously some watching very little and some watching much, much more”.
They also found that around 23% of men under-35 who responded to the survey had some level of erectile dysfunction when having sex with a partner.
Professor de Win commented:
“This figure was higher than we expected. We found that there was a highly significant relationship between time spent watching porn and increasing difficulty with erectile function with a partner, as indicated by the erectile function and sexual health scores. People who watch more porn also scored high on porn addiction scales.
We need to keep understand what this work means and doesn’t mean. It is a questionnaire rather than a clinical trial, and it could be that the people who have responded are not completely representative of the whole male population. However, the work was designed to unpick any relationship between porn and erectile dysfunction, and given the large sample size, we can be pretty confident about the findings.
We found that 90% of men fast-forward to watch the most arousing pornographic scenes. There’s no doubt that porn conditions the way we view sex; in our survey, only 65% of men felt that sex with a partner was more exciting than watching porn. In addition, 20% felt that they needed to watch more extreme porn to get the same level of arousal as previously. We believe that the erectile dysfunction problems associated with porn stem from this lack of arousal.
Our next step in this research to identify which factors lead to erectile dysfunction, and to conduct a similar study on the effects of porn on women. In the meantime, we believe that doctors dealing with erectile dysfunction should also be asking about watching pornography”.
Commenting, Professor Maarten Albersen (University of Leuven, Belgium) said:
“This is an interesting study by Prof. De Win and colleagues. The sample consisted mainly of younger men recruited via (social) media and posters, which may result in a sample biased towards higher online porn consumption rates. All-in-all, the study raises interesting insights in the fact that porn consumption by men may lead to impaired erectile function and/or sexual satisfaction or confidence during partner-sex.
As Professor De Win says, the running hypothesis is that the type of porn watched may come more explicit over time and partner-sex may not lead to the same level of arousal as the pornographic material does. The study contributes to an ongoing debate on the topic; experts have highlighted that porn may have both positive and negative effects, and could, for example, be used as an aid in the treatment of sexual dysfunctions, so this is a controversial area and the last words have not been said on this topic”.
Professor Albersen was not involved in this work, this is an independent comment.
43) The Pornography “Rebooting” Experience: A Qualitative Analysis of Abstinence Journals on an Online Pornography Abstinence Forum (2021)
Excellent paper analyzes more than 100 rebooting experiences and highlights what people are undergoing on recovery forums. Contradicts much of the propaganda about recovery forums (such as the nonsense that they’re all religious, or strict semen-retention extremists, etc.). Paper reports tolerance, habituation, withdrawal symptoms and porn-induced sexual problems in men attempting to quit porn. Relevant excerpts:
One primary self-perceived problem related to pornography use concerns addiction-related symptomatology. These symptoms generally include impaired control, preoccupation, craving, use as a dysfunctional coping mechanism, withdrawal, tolerance, distress about use, functional impairment, and continued use despite negative consequences (e.g., Bőthe et al., 2018; Kor et al., 2014).
It is interesting to note that paradoxically, close to one-third of members reported that instead of experiencing increased sexual desire, they experienced diminished sexual desire during abstinence, which they called the “flatline.” The “flatline” is a term that members used to describe a significant decrease or loss of libido during abstinence (although some appeared to have a broader definition for this to also include accompanying low mood and a sense of disengagement in general: (e.g., “I feel like I’m probably in a flatline right now as the desire to engage in any sort of sexual activity is almost nonexistent” [056, 30s]).
Although potential associations between pornography use and sexual dysfunctions are generally inconclusive (see Dwulit & Rzymski, 2019b), self-perceived negative effects on sexual functioning have also been reported by some pornography users, including erectile difficulties, decreased desire for partnered sexual activity, decreased sexual satisfaction, and reliance on pornographic fantasies during sex with a partner (e.g., Dwulit & Rzymski, 2019a; Kohut, Fisher, & Campbell, 2017; Sniewski & Farvid, 2020). Some researchers have used terms such as “pornography-induced erectile dysfunction” (PIED) and “pornography-induced abnormally low libido” to describe specific sexual difficulties attributed to excessive pornography use (Park et al., 2016).
Second, for some members (n = 44), abstinence was motivated by a desire to relieve their sexual difficulties, based on the belief that these difficulties (erectile difficulties [n = 39]; diminished desire for partnered sex [n = 8]) were (possibly) pornography-induced. Some members believed that their problems with sexual functioning were a result of a conditioning of their sexual response predominantly to pornography-related content and activity (e.g., “I notice how I lacked enthusiasm for the body of the other…I have conditioned myself to enjoy sex with the laptop” [083, 45 years]). Of the 39 members who reported erectile difficulties as a reason for initiating abstinence, 31 were relatively certain that they were suffering from “pornography-induced erectile dysfunction” (PIED). Others (n = 8) were less certain of definitively labeling their erectile difficulties as being “pornography-induced” due to wanting to rule out other possible explanations (e.g., performance anxiety, age-related factors, etc.), but decided to initiate abstinence in case they were indeed pornography-related.
Increased sexual sensitivity and responsiveness were reported by some members. Of the 42 members who reported erectile difficulties at the outset of the abstinence attempt, half (n = 21) reported at least some improvements in erectile function after abstaining for a period of time. Some members reported partial return of erectile function (e.g., “It was only about a 60% erection, but what was important is that it was there” [076, 52 years]), while others reported a complete return of erectile function (e.g., “I had sex with my wife both Friday night and last night, and both times were 10/10 erections that lasted quite a long time” [069, 30 years]). Some members also reported that sex was more pleasurable and satisfying than before (e.g., “I had two times (Saturday and Wednesday) the best sex in four years” [062, 37 years]).
Members who persisted with abstinence typically found abstinence to be a rewarding experience and reported a range of perceived benefits which they attributed to abstaining from pornography. Perceived effects resembling pornography abstinence self-efficacy (Kraus, Rosenberg, Martino, Nich, & Potenza, 2017) or an increased sense of self-control in general (Muraven, 2010) were described by some members after successful periods of abstinence. Perceived improvements in psychological and social functioning (e.g., improved mood, increased motivation, improved relationships) and sexual functioning (e.g., increased sexual sensitivity and improved erectile function) were also described.
44) Lecture describing upcoming studies – by Urology professor Carlo Foresta, president of the Italian Society of Reproductive Pathophysiology
The lecture contains the results of longitudinal and cross-sectional studies. One study involved a survey of high school teens (pages 52-53). The study reported that sexual dysfunction doubled between 2005 and 2013, with low sexual desire increasing 600%.
- The percentage of teens that experienced alterations of their sexuality: 2004/05: 7.2%, 2012/13: 14.5%
- The percentage of teens with low sexual desire: 2004/05: 1.7%, 2012/13: 10.3% (that’s a 600% increase in 8 years)
Foresta also describes his upcoming study. It was “Sexuality media and new forms of sexual pathology sample 125 young males, 19-25 years” Its Italian name is “Sessualità mediatica e nuove forme di patologia sessuale Campione 125 giovani maschi“. The results from the study (pages 77-78), which used the International Index of Erectile Function Questionnaire, found that regular porn users scored 50% lower on sexual desire domain and 30% lower of the erectile functioning domain.
45) MedHelp article
(not peer-reviewed) Here’s an article about an extensive analysis of comments and questions posted on MedHelp concerning erectile dysfunction. What’s shocking is that 58% of the men asking for help were 24 or younger. Many suspected that internet porn could be involved as described in the results from the study –
The most common phrase is “erectile dysfunction” – which is mentioned more than three times as often as any other phrase – followed by “internet porn,” “performance anxiety,” and “watching porn.”
Clearly, porn is a frequently discussed subject: “I have been viewing internet pornography frequently (4 to 5 times a week) for the past 6 years,” one man writes. “I am in my mid-20s and have had a problem getting and maintaining an erection with sexual partners since my late teens when I first started looking at internet porn.”
Article about the latest spin campaign: Sexologists Deny Porn-induced ED by Claiming Masturbation Is the Problem (2016)
List #2: Studies reporting links between porn use and poorer sexual or relationship satisfaction
According to researchers, those who indicate a “good performance in mating,” experience more positive emotions. They also report fewer negative emotions, and are more satisfied with their lives. Yet according to a 2018 study, one in two now face difficulties starting or keeping an intimate relationship.
As of 2020, over 80 studies have linked porn use to poorer sexual and relationship satisfaction. While a few studies correlated greater porn use in females to better (or neutral) sexual satisfaction, most have not (see this list: Porn studies involving female subjects: Negative effects on arousal, sexual satisfaction, and relationships). As far as we know all studies involving males reported more porn use linked to poorer sexual or relationship satisfaction. Below are two sections.
- In the first section, papers 1, 2 & 3 are meta-analyses/reviews, study #4 had porn users attempt to quit using porn for 3 weeks, and studies 5 through 10 are longitudinal.
- In the second section studies are listed in chronological order.
1) Pornography Consumption and Satisfaction: A Meta-Analysis (2017)
This meta-analysis of various other studies assessing sexual and relationship satisfaction reported that porn use was consistently related to lower sexual and relationship satisfaction (interpersonal satisfaction). While some studies report little negative effect of porn use on sexual and relationship satisfaction in women, it’s important to know that a relatively small percentage of coupled females (across the population) regularly consume internet porn. Nationally representative data from the largest US survey (General Social Survey) found that only 2.6% of women had visited a “pornographic website” in the last month (2002-2004). An excerpt:
However, pornography consumption was associated with lower interpersonal satisfaction outcomes in cross-sectional surveys, longitudinal surveys, and experiments. Associations between pornography consumption and reduced interpersonal satisfaction outcomes were not moderated by their year of release or their publication status. But analyses by sex indicted significant results for men only.
2) Women’s perceptions of their male partners’ pornography consumption and relational, sexual, self, and body satisfaction: toward a theoretical model (2017)
This paper’s meta-analysis of quantitative studies conducted to date primarily supports the hypothesis that the majority of women are negatively impacted by the perception that their partner is a pornography consumer. In main analyses including all of the available studies, perceiving partners as pornography consumers was significantly associated with less relational, sexual, and body satisfaction. The association for self satisfaction was also negative. The results also suggested that women’s satisfaction will generally decrease in correspondence with the perception that their partners are consuming pornography more frequently.
Perceiving male partners as more frequent consumers of pornography was significantly associated with less relational and sexual satisfaction.
Finally, the possibility of a publication bias was also explored. Taken in totality, the results did not suggest that publication bias is a significant concern in this literature.
3) Pornography and Relationship Quality: Establishing the Dominant Pattern by Examining Pornography Use and 31 Measures of Relationship Quality across 30 National Surveys (2019)
Review on only 4 national surveys, including the highly suspect General Social Survey which assessed porn use with an out-of-date either/or question: “have you viewed an X-rated film this year”. Important to note: the author’s write-up was designed to give the impression that porn use is not all that bad, or that poor relationships might lead to porn use. This is not surprising as author Samuel Perry is a proud “expert” of the pro-porn website – www.realyourbrainonporn.com. RealYBOP is engaged in illegal trademark infringement and squatting, has “experts” who are being paid by the porn industry, and uses its twitter account to defame and harass those who speak about porn’s harms. Nevertheless, Perry couldn’t fully disguise the fact that poorer relationship quality is nearly always associated with porn use.
Data were taken from 30 nationally-representative surveys, which together included 31 measures of relationship quality: 1973-2018 General Social Surveys (1 repeated measure); 2006 Portraits of American Life Study (13 measures); 2012 New Family Structures Study (12 measures); and 2014 Relationships in America Survey (5 measures). This allowed for 57 independent tests examining the association between pornography use and relationship outcomes for married Americans and 29 independent tests for unmarried Americans.
For married and unmarried Americans alike, pornography use was either unassociated or negatively associated with nearly all relationship outcomes. Significant associations were mostly small in magnitude. Conversely, except for one unclear exception, pornography use was never positively associated with relationship quality. Associations were only occasionally moderated by gender, but in inconsistent directions. While this study makes no claims about causality, findings clearly affirmed that, in instances where viewing pornography is associated with relationship quality at all, it is nearly always a signal of poorer relationship quality, for men and women.
4) A Love That Doesn’t Last: Pornography Consumption and Weakened Commitment to One’s Romantic Partner (2012)
The study had subjects try to abstain from porn use for 3 weeks. It then compared the two groups. Those who continued using pornography reported lower levels of commitment than those who tried to abstain. Excerpts:
Study 1 found that higher pornography consumption was related to lower commitment
Study 3 participants were randomly assigned to either refrain from viewing pornography or to a self-control task. Those who continued using pornography reported lower levels of commitment than control participants.
Study 5 found that pornography consumption was positively related to infidelity and this association was mediated by commitment. Overall, a consistent pattern of results was found using a variety of approaches including cross-sectional (Study 1), observational (Study 2), experimental (Study 3), and behavioral (Studies 4 and 5) data.
5) Internet pornography and relationship quality: A longitudinal study of within and between partner effects of adjustment, sexual satisfaction and sexually explicit internet material among newly-weds (2015)
Longitudinal study. Excerpt:
The data from a considerable sample of newlyweds showed that SEIM use has more negative than positive consequences for husbands and wives. Importantly, husbands’ adjustment decreased SEIM use over time and SEIM use decreased adjustment. Furthermore, more sexual satisfaction in husbands predicted a decrease in their wives’ SEIM use one year later, while wives’ SEIM use did not change their husbands’ sexual satisfaction.
6) Does Viewing Pornography Reduce Marital Quality Over Time? Evidence from Longitudinal Data (2016)
First longitudinal study on a representative cross-section of married couples. It found significant negative effects of porn use on marriage quality over time. Excerpt:
This study is the first to draw on nationally representative, longitudinal data (2006-2012 Portraits of American Life Study) to test whether more frequent pornography use influences marital quality later on and whether this effect is moderated by gender. In general, married persons who more frequently viewed pornography in 2006 reported significantly lower levels of marital quality in 2012, net of controls for earlier marital quality and relevant correlates. Pornography’s effect was not simply a proxy for dissatisfaction with sex life or marital decision-making in 2006. In terms of substantive influence, frequency of pornography use in 2006 was the second strongest predictor of marital quality in 2012. Interaction effects revealed, however, that the negative effect of porn use on marital quality applied to husbands, but not wives.
Note: When the author was asked privately about the raw numbers of women who reported increased satisfaction as porn use increased, he said:
I can’t remember the exact number off the top of my head, but I recall it being pretty small.
7) Till Porn Do Us Part? Longitudinal Effects of Pornography Use on Divorce (2017)
This longitudinal study used nationally representative General Social Survey panel data collected from thousands of American adults. Respondents were interviewed three times about their pornography use and marital status — every two years from 2006-2010, 2008-2012, or 2010-2014. Excerpts:
Beginning pornography use between survey waves nearly doubled one’s likelihood of being divorced by the next survey period, from 6 percent to 11 percent, and nearly tripled it for women, from 6 percent to 16 percent. Our results suggest that viewing pornography, under certain social conditions, may have negative effects on marital stability. Conversely, discontinuing pornography use between survey waves was associated with a lower probability of divorce, but only for women.
Additionally, the researchers found that respondents’ initially reported level of marital happiness played an important role in determining the magnitude of pornography’s association with the probability of divorce. Among people who reported they were “very happy” in their marriage in the first survey wave, beginning pornography viewership before the next survey was associated with a noteworthy increase — from 3 percent to 12 percent — in the likelihood of getting divorced by the time of that next survey.
Additional analyses also showed that the association between beginning pornography use and the probability of divorce was particularly strong among younger Americans, those who were less religious, and those who reported greater initial marital happiness.
8) Pornography Use and Marital Separation: Evidence from Two-Wave Panel Data (2017)
Longitudinal study. Excerpts:
Drawing on data from the 2006 and 2012 waves of the nationally representative Portraits of American Life Study, this article examined whether married Americans who viewed pornography in 2006, either at all or in greater frequencies, were more likely to experience a marital separation by 2012. Binary logistic regression analyses showed that married Americans who viewed pornography at all in 2006 were more than twice as likely as those who did not view pornography to experience a separation by 2012, even after controlling for 2006 marital happiness and sexual satisfaction as well as relevant sociodemographic correlates. The relationship between pornography use frequency and marital separation, however, was technically curvilinear. The likelihood of marital separation by 2012 increased with 2006 pornography use to a point and then declined at the highest frequencies of pornography use.
9) Are Pornography Users More Likely to Experience A Romantic Breakup? Evidence from Longitudinal Data (2017)
Longitudinal study. Excerpts:
This study examined whether Americans who use pornography, either at all or more frequently, are more prone to report experiencing a romantic breakup over time. Longitudinal data were taken from the 2006 and 2012 waves of the nationally representative Portraits of American Life Study. Binary logistic regression analyses demonstrated that Americans who viewed pornography at all in 2006 were nearly twice as likely as those who never viewed pornography to report experiencing a romantic breakup by 2012, even after controlling for relevant factors such as 2006 relationship status and other sociodemographic correlates. This association was considerably stronger for men than for women and for unmarried Americans than for married Americans. Analyses also showed a linear relationship between how frequently Americans viewed pornography in 2006 and their odds of experiencing a breakup by 2012.
10) Pornography Use and Marriage Entry During Early Adulthood: Findings From a Panel Study of Young Americans (2018)
Longitudinal study. Excerpts:
The current study takes this research in a different direction by examining (1) whether pornography use may be associated with entrance into marriage during early adulthood and (2) whether this association is moderated by both gender and religion, two key factors strongly related to both pornography use and earlier marriage. Longitudinal data were taken from waves 1, 3, and 4 of the National Study of Youth and Religion, a nationally-representative panel study of Americans from their teenage years into early adulthood (N = 1,691). It was theorized that frequent pornography use at earlier survey waves may foster more sexually progressive attitudes that may lead to devaluing marriage as an institution, and, for religious men in particular, may disincentivize marriage as a “socially legitimate” means of sexual fulfillment.
Findings affirmed that, compared to more moderate levels of pornography use, higher levels of pornography use in emerging adulthood were associated with a lower likelihood of marriage by the final survey wave for men, but not women. This association was not moderated by religiosity for either gender.
The remaining studies are listed by date of publication:
1) Effect of Erotica on Young Men’s Aesthetic Perception of Their Female Sexual Partners (1984) – Excerpt:
Male undergraduates were exposed to (a) nature scenes or (b) beautiful versus (c) unattractive females in sexually enticing situations. Thereafter, they assessed their girl friends’ sexual appeal and evaluated their satisfaction with their mates. On pictorial measures of bodily appeal profiles of flat through hypervoluptuous breast and buttock, preexposure to beautiful females tended to suppress mates’ appeal, while preexposure to unattractive females tended to enhance it. After exposure to beautiful females, mates’ aesthetic value fell significantly below assessments made after exposure to unattractive females; this value assumed an intermediate position after control exposure. Changes in mates’ aesthetic appeal did not correspond with changes in satisfaction with mates, however.
2) Effects of Prolonged Consumption of Pornography on Family Values (1988) – Excerpt:
Male and female students and nonstudents were exposed to videotapes featuring common, nonviolent pornography or innocuous content. Exposure was in hourly sessions in six consecutive weeks. In the seventh week, subjects participated in an ostensibly unrelated study on societal institutions and personal gratifications. Marriage, cohabitational relationships, and related issues were judged on an especially created Value-of-Marriage questionnaire. The findings showed a consistent impact of pornography consumption.
Exposure prompted, among other things, greater acceptance of pre- and extramarital sex and greater tolerance of nonexclusive sexual access to intimate partners. It enhanced the belief that male and female promiscuity are natural and that the repression of sexual inclinations poses a health risk. Exposure lowered the evaluation of marriage, making this institution appear less significant and less viable in the future. Exposure also reduced the desire to have children and promoted the acceptance of male dominance and female servitude. With few exceptions, these effects were uniform for male and female respondents as well as for students and nonstudents.
3) Pornography’s Impact on Sexual Satisfaction (1988) – Excerpt:
Male and female students and nonstudents were exposed to videotapes featuring common, nonviolent pornography or innocuous content. Exposure was in hourly sessions in six consecutive weeks. In the seventh week, subjects participated in an ostensibly unrelated study on societal institutions and personal gratifications. [Porn use] strongly impacted self-assessment of sexual experience. After consumption of pornography, subjects reported less satisfaction with their intimate partners—specifically, with these partners’ affection, physical appearance, sexual curiosity, and sexual performance proper. In addition, subjects assigned increased importance to sex without emotional involvement. These effects were uniform across gender and populations.
4) Influence of popular erotica on judgments of strangers and mates (1989) – Excerpt:
In Experiment 2, male and female subjects were exposed to opposite sex erotica. In the second study, there was an interaction of subject sex with stimulus condition upon sexual attraction ratings. Decremental effects of centerfold exposure were found only for male subjects exposed to female nudes. Males who found the Playboy-type centerfolds more pleasant rated themselves as less in love with their wives.
5) Men’s leisure and women’s lives: The impact of pornography on women (1999) – Excerpt:
The section of the interview where the women discussed their own current or past relationships with men revealed additional insight into the effect of pornography on such relationships. Fifteen of the women were in, or had been in, relationships with men who rented or bought pornography at least on an occasional basis. Of these 15 women, four expressed strong dislike of their husband’s or partner’s leisure time interest in pornography. It was clear that the husbands’ use of pornography affected the wives’ feeling about themselves, their sexual feelings, and their marital relationships in general
6) Adult Social Bonds and Use of Internet Pornography (2004) – Excerpt:
Complete data on 531 Internet users are taken from the General Social Surveys for 2000. Social bonds measures include religious, marital, and political ties. Measures of participation in sexual and drug-related deviant lifestyles, and demographic controls are included. The results of a logistic regression analysis found that among the strongest predictors of use of cyberporn were weak ties to religion and lack of a happy marriage.
7) Sex in America Online: An Exploration of Sex, Marital Status, and Sexual Identity in Internet Sex Seeking and Its Impacts (2008) – Excerpt:
This was an exploratory study of sex and relationship seeking on the Internet, based on a survey of 15,246 respondents in the United States Seventy-five percent of men and 41% of women had intentionally viewed or downloaded porn. Men and gays/lesbians were more likely to access porn or engage in other sex-seeking behaviors online compared with straights or women. A symmetrical relationship was revealed between men and women as a result of viewing pornography, with women reporting more negative consequences, including lowered body image, partner critical of their body, increased pressure to perform acts seen in pornographic films, and less actual sex, while men reported being more critical of their partners’ body and less interested in actual sex.
8) Adolescents’ Exposure to Sexually Explicit Internet Material and Sexual Satisfaction: A Longitudinal Study (2009) – Excerpt:
Between May 2006 and May 2007, we conducted a three-wave panel survey among 1,052 Dutch adolescents aged 13–20. Structural equation modeling revealed that exposure to SEIM consistently reduced adolescents’ sexual satisfaction. Lower sexual satisfaction (in Wave 2) also increased the use of SEIM (in Wave 3). The effect of exposure to SEIM on sexual satisfaction did not differ among male and female adolescents.
9) Wives’ Experience of Husbands’ Pornography Use and Concomitant Deception as an Attachment Threat in the Adult Pair-Bond Relationship (2009) – Excerpt:
Evidence is growing that pornography use can negatively impact attachment trust in the adult pair-bond relationship. Analyses uncovered three attachment-related impacts from husbands’ pornography use and deception: (1) the development of an attachment fault line in the relationship, stemming from perceived attachment infidelity; (2) followed by a widening attachment rift arising from wives’ sense of distance and disconnection from their husbands; (3) culminating in attachment estrangement from a sense of being emotionally and psychologically unsafe in the relationship. Overall, wives reported global mistrust indicative of attachment breakdown.
10) Sexual media use and relational satisfaction in heterosexual couples (2010)
Sharing porn was better than using alone. But how many couples use porn together? Not too many. Porn use is still bad for men. Excerpt:
This study assessed how sexual media use by one or both members of a romantic dyad relates to relationship and sexual satisfaction. A total of 217 heterosexual couples completed an Internet survey that assessed sexual media use, relationship and sexual satisfaction, and demographic variables. Results revealed that a higher frequency of men’s sexual media use related to negative satisfaction in men, while a higher frequency of women’s sexual media use related to positive satisfaction in male partners. Reasons for sexual media use differed by gender: Men reported primarily using sexual media for masturbation, while women reported primarily using sexual media as part of lovemaking with their partners. Shared sexual media use was associated with higher relational satisfaction compared to solitary sexual media use.
11) Exploring actor and partner correlates of sexual satisfaction among married couples (2010) – Excerpt:
Using the Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction, we consider how infidelity, pornography consumption, marital satisfaction, sexual frequency, premarital sex, and cohabitation are associated with married couples’ sexual satisfaction. Data from 433 couples are analyzed with structural equation models to determine the contributions. Finally, some evidence suggests that pornography consumption is costly for own and spouse’s sexual satisfaction, especially when pornography is used by only one spouse.
12) Individuals who never viewed SEM reported higher relationship quality on all indices than those who viewed SEM alone (2011) – Excerpt:
As expected, individuals who did not view SEM (sexually explicit material) at all reported lower negative communication and higher dedication than individuals who viewed SEM alone or both alone and with their partner.
13) Associations between young adults’ use of sexually explicit materials and their sexual preferences, behaviors, and satisfaction (2011) – Excerpts:
Higher frequencies of sexual explicit material (SEM) use were associated with less sexual and relationship satisfaction. The frequency of SEM use and number of SEM types viewed were both associated with higher sexual preferences for the types of sexual practices typically presented in SEM. These findings suggest that SEM use can play a significant role in a variety of aspects of young adults’ sexual development processes.
Specifically, higher viewing frequency was associated with less sexual and relationship satisfaction when controlling for gender, religiosity, dating status and the number of SEM types viewed.
Because a substantial proportion of the young adults in this study reported using SEM, the potential implications are especially noteworthy, particularly for young men.
14) Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone or Together: Associations with Relationship Quality (2011) – Excerpt:
This study investigated associations between viewing sexually-explicit material (SEM) and relationship functioning in a random sample of 1291 unmarried individuals in romantic relationships. More men (76.8%) than women (31.6%) reported that they viewed SEM on their own, but nearly half of both men and women reported sometimes viewing SEM with their partner (44.8%).
Individuals who never viewed SEM reported higher relationship quality on all indices than those who viewed SEM alone. Those who viewed SEM only with their partners reported more dedication and higher sexual satisfaction than those who viewed SEM alone. The only difference between those who never viewed SEM and those who viewed it only with their partners was that those who never viewed it had lower rates of infidelity.
15) Pornography and divorce (2011) – Excerpt:
We test whether pornography causes divorce. Using state-level panel data on the divorce rate and sales of Playboy magazine, we document a strong cross-sectional and time-series relation between lagged sales of Playboy and the divorce rate. The simple correlation between divorce and sales lagged two years is 44 percent, with a T-statistic of 20. This large correlation is robust to using only the first half of the sample, adjusting for all state-level heterogeneity and for any time trends by including state and year fixed effects, and using an instrumental variable to correct for any possible endogeneity in Playboy sales. Divorce rates are also significantly correlated with sales of Penthouse but they are not correlated with sales of Time magazine. Our overall estimates suggest that pornography probably caused 10 percent of all divorces in the United States in the sixties and seventies.
16) 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 (2012) – Excerpt:
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between men’s pornography use, both frequency and problematic use, on their heterosexual female partner’s psychological and relational well-being among 308 young adult college women. Results revealed women’s reports of their male partner’s frequency of pornography use were negatively associated with their relationship quality. More perceptions of problematic use of pornography was negatively correlated with self-esteem, relationship quality, and sexual satisfaction.
17) Pornography use: who uses it and how it is associated with couple outcomes (2013) – Excerpt:
18) Internet Pornography Exposure and Women’s Attitude Towards Extramarital Sex: An Exploratory Study (2013) – Excerpt:
This exploratory study assessed the association between adult U.S. women’s exposure to Internet pornography and attitude towards extramarital sex using data provided by the General Social Survey (GSS). A positive association between Internet pornography viewing and more positive extramarital sex attitudes was found.
19) The use of pornography and sexual behaviour among Norwegian men and women of differing sexual orientation (2013)
Hidden away in the study: Greater pornography use in men was correlated with lower sexual satisfaction (or “greater sexual dissatisfaction”).
20) Pornography and Marriage (2014) – The abstract:
We used data on 20,000 ever-married adults in the General Social Survey to examine the relationship between watching pornographic films and various measures of marital well-being. We found that adults who had watched an X-rated movie in the past year were more likely to be divorced, more likely to have had an extramarital affair, and less likely to report being happy with their marriage or happy overall. [Our study] also found that, for men, pornography use reduced the positive relationship between frequency of sex and happiness.
Finally, we found that the negative relationship between pornography use and marital well-being has, if anything, grown stronger over time, during a period in which pornography has become both more explicit and more easily available.
21) More than a dalliance? Pornography consumption and extramarital sex attitudes among married U.S. adults (2014) – Excerpts:
This brief report used national panel data gathered from two separate samples of married U.S. adults. Data were gathered from the first sample in 2006 and in 2008. Data were gathered from the second sample in 2008 and in 2010. Consistent with a social learning perspective on media, prior pornography consumption was correlated with more positive subsequent extramarital sex attitudes in both samples, even after controlling for earlier extramarital sex attitudes and nine additional potential confounds.
In total, the results of the present study are consistent with the theoretical premise that pornography consumption leads to the acquisition and activation of sexual scripts, which are then used by many consumers to inform their sexual attitudes (Wright, 2013a; Wright et al., 2012a).
22) Korean Men’s Pornography use, Their Interest in Extreme Pornography, and Dyadic Sexual Relationships (2014) – Excerpt:
Six-hundred eighty-five heterosexual South Korean male college students participated in an online survey. The majority (84.5%) of respondents had viewed pornography, and for those who were sexually active (470 respondents), we found that higher interest in degrading or extreme pornography was associated with the experience of role-playing sexual scenes from pornography with a partner, and a preference for using pornography to achieve and maintain sexual excitement over having sex with a partner.
We found that higher interest in viewing degrading or extreme pornography … has a significant positive … association with sexual concerns.
23) Pornography and the Male Sexual Script: An Analysis of Consumption and Sexual Relations (2014) – Excerpt:
We argue pornography creates a sexual script that then guides sexual experiences. To test this, we surveyed 487 college men (ages 18-29 years) in the United States to compare their rate of pornography use with sexual preferences and concerns. Results showed the more pornography a man watches, the more likely he was to use it during sex, request particular pornographic sex acts of his partner, deliberately conjure images of pornography during sex to maintain arousal, and have concerns over his own sexual performance and body image. Further, higher pornography use was negatively associated with enjoying sexually intimate behaviors with a partner.
24) Psychological, Relational, and Sexual Correlates of Pornography Use on Young Adult Heterosexual Men in Romantic Relationships (2014) – Excerpt:
Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine theorized antecedents (i.e., gender role conflict and attachment styles) and consequences (i.e., poorer relationship quality and sexual satisfaction) of men’s pornography use among 373 young adult heterosexual men. Findings revealed that both frequency of pornography use and problematic pornography use were related to greater gender role conflict, more avoidant and anxious attachment styles, poorer relationship quality, and less sexual satisfaction. In addition, the findings provided support for a theorized mediated model in which gender role conflict was linked to relational outcomes both directly and indirectly via attachment styles and pornography use.
25) Associations between relational sexual behaviour, pornography use, and pornography acceptance among US college students (2014) – Excerpt:
Using a sample of 792 emerging adults, the present study explored how the combined examination of pornography use, acceptance, and sexual behaviour within a relationship might offer insight into emerging adults’ development. Results suggested clear gender differences in both pornography use and acceptance patterns.
High male pornography use tended to be associated with high engagement in sex within a relationship and was associated with elevated risk-taking behaviours.
High female pornography use was not associated with engagement in sexual behaviours within a relationship and was general associated with negative mental health outcomes.
26) IASR Fortieth Annual Meeting Book of Abstracts – Dubrovnik, Hrvatska, 25.-28. lipnja, 2014
This is an abstract of a presentation given by Landripet and Stulhofer at a sexology conference. These 2 researchers published a portion of their data in this “brief communication,” which is cited as finding no relationship between porn use and sexual problems. In reality, their “brief communication” doesn’t mention a pretty important correlation mentioned in their paper: Only 40% of the Portuguese men used porn “frequently,” while the 60% of the Norwegians used porn “frequently.” The Portuguese men had far less sexual dysfunction than the Norwegians. In a shocking move, Landripet & Stulhofer omitted three other correlations between porn use and sexual problems which they presented to at the Dubrovnik conference:
However, increased pornography use was slightly but significantly associated with decreased interest for partnered sex and more prevalent sexual dysfunction among women.
Reporting a preference for specific pornographic genres were significantly associated with erectile, but not ejaculatory or desire-related male sexual dysfunction.
It’s quite telling that Landripet & Stulhofer chose to omit a significant correlation between erectile dysfunction and preferences for specific genres of porn from their “brief” paper. It’s quite common for porn users to escalate into genres that do not match their original sexual tastes. It is then common for them to experience ED when these conditioned porn preferences do not match real sexual encounters. As pointed out in this review of the literature (and this critique of Landripet & Stulhofer), it’s very important to assess the multiple variables associated with porn use – not just hours in the last month, or frequency in the last year.
27) Factors Predicting Cybersex Use and Difficulties in Forming Intimate Relationships among Male and Female Users of Cybersex (2015) – Excerpt:
This study used the Cybersex addiction test, Craving for pornography questionnaire, and a Questionnaire on intimacy among 267 participants (192 males and 75 females) mean age for males 28 and for females 25, who were recruited from special sites that are dedicated to pornography and cybersex on the Internet.
Results of regression analysis indicated that pornography, gender, and cybersex significantly predicted difficulties in intimacy and it accounted for 66.1% of the variance of rating on the intimacy questionnaire. Second, regression analysis also indicated that craving for pornography, gender, and difficulties in forming intimate relationships significantly predicted frequency of cybersex use and it accounted for 83.7% of the variance in ratings of cybersex use.
28) Male Partners’ Perceived Pornography Use and Women’s Relational and Psychological Health: The Roles of Trust, Attitudes, and Investment (2015) – Excerpt:
Results revealed that women’s reports of their male partners’ pornography use were related to less relationship satisfaction and more psychological distress. Results from the moderation analyses indicated that the direct effect of male partners’ perceived pornography use and relationship trust and the conditional indirect effects of male partners’ perceived pornography use on both relationship satisfaction and psychological distress were contingent on relationship investment.
These findings indicated that when male partners’ perceived pornography use is high, women who have low or mean levels of relationship investment have less relationship trust. Finally, our results revealed that the relationship between male partners’ perceived pornography use and relational and psychological outcomes exist regardless of women’s own attitudes toward pornography
29) Relationship of love and marital satisfaction with pornography among married university students in Birjand, Iran (2015) – Excerpts:
This descriptive-correlation study was conducted on 310 married students studying at private and public universities in Birjand, in 2012-2013 academic year using random quota sampling method. It appears that pornography has a negative impact on love and marital satisfaction.
30) From Bad to Worse? Pornography Consumption, Spousal Religiosity, Gender, and Marital Quality (2016) – Excerpts:
I test the above hypotheses using data from Wave 1 of the Portraits of American Life Study (PALS), which was fielded in 2006. PALS is a nationally representative panel survey with questions focusing on a variety of topics…. Looking at bivariate correlations, for the full sample, viewing pornography is negatively associated with overall marital satisfaction, suggesting that those who view pornography more often tend to be less satisfied in their marriage than those who view pornography less often or never
31) Sexually explicit media use and relationship satisfaction a moderating role of emotional intimacy? (2016)
The authors attempted to obfuscate their findings in the abstract by stating that once sexual and relationship variables were “controlled for,” they found no link between porn use and relationship satisfaction. Reality: The study found significant correlations between porn use and poorer relationship and sexual satisfaction in both males and females. Excerpt from discussion section:
For both men and women, significant, yet modest negative zero-order correlations between SEM use and relationship satisfaction were found, indicating that increased SEM use was associated with lower relationship satisfaction across gender.
32) Effect of soft core pornography on female sexuality (2016) – Excerpt:
An overall 51.6% of participants who were aware that their husbands were positive watchers reported experiencing negative emotions (depression, jealous), whereas 77% reported changes in their husbands’ attitude. Non-watchers watchers were more satisfied with their sexual life compared with their counterparts. Although watching soft-core pornography had a statistically significant effect on sexual desire, vaginal lubrication, ability to reach orgasm, and masturbation, it had no statistically significant effect on coital frequency. Watching soft-core pornography affects female sexual life by increasing sexual boredom in both men and women, causing relational difficulties.
32) A Common-Fate Analysis of Pornography Acceptance, Use, and Sexual Satisfaction Among Heterosexual Married Couples (2016) – Excerpt:
Results indicated that the shared variance of pornography acceptance was positively associated with both spouses’ pornography use and that spouses’ pornography use was negatively associated with their own sexual satisfaction. Wives’ pornography use was found to be positively associated with the couple’s shared variance of sexual satisfaction, but pornography use did not significantly mediate the relationship between pornography acceptance and sexual satisfaction.
34) Differences in Pornography Use Among Couples: Associations with Satisfaction, Stability, and Relationship Processes (2016) – Excerpt:
The present study utilized a sample of 1755 adult couples in heterosexual romantic relationships to examine how different patterns of pornography use between romantic partners may be associated with relationship outcomes. While pornography use has been generally associated with some negative and some positive couple outcomes, no study has yet explored how differences between partners may uniquely be associated with relationship well-being.
Results suggested that greater discrepancies between partners in pornography use were related to less relationship satisfaction, less stability, less positive communication, and more relational aggression. Mediation analyses suggested that greater pornography use discrepancies were primarily associated with elevated levels of male relational aggression, lower female sexual desire, and less positive communication for both partners which then predicted lower relational satisfaction and stability for both partners.
35) Internet Pornography Consumption and Relationship Commitment of Filipino Married Individuals (2016) – Excerpt:
Internet pornography has many adverse effects, especially to the relationship commitment. The use of pornography directly correlates to a decrease in sexual intimacy. Hence, this might lead to weakening of the relationship of their partner. To find out the relevance of the claim, the researchers aimed to explore the relationship of Internet pornography consumption to the relationship commitment of married individuals in the Philippines.
It is revealed that Internet pornography consumption has an adverse effect on the relationship commitment of married Filipino couples. Furthermore, watching porn online weakened the relationship commitment that leads to an unstable relationship. This investigation found out that internet pornography consumption has a nominal negative effect on the relationship commitment of Filipino married individuals.
36) Perceptions of relationship satisfaction and addictive behavior: Comparing pornography and marijuana use (2016) – Excerpt:
This study contributes to the broader literature on how pornography use impacts perceptions of romantic relationships. [It] examined if negative outcomes due to a romantic partner’s excessive pornography use are different than negative outcomes produced by other compulsive or addictive behaviors, specifically marijuana use. This study suggests that problematic partner pornography use and problematic partner marijuana use are perceived to similarly impact romantic relationships and contribute to a decrease in relationship satisfaction.
37) The effects of sexually explicit material use on romantic relationship dynamics (2016) – Excerpts:
More specifically, couples, where no one used, reported more relationship satisfaction than those couples that had individual users. This is consistent with the previous research (Cooper et al., 1999; Manning, 2006), demonstrating that the solitary use of sexually explicit material results in negative consequences.
With gender effects held constant, individual users reported significantly less intimacy and commitment in their relationships than non-users and shared users.
Overall, how frequently someone views sexually explicit material can have an impact on users’ consequences. Our study found that high frequency users are more likely to have lower relationship satisfaction and intimacy in their romantic relationships.
38) Cyberpornography: Time Use, Perceived Addiction, Sexual Functioning, and Sexual Satisfaction (2016) – Excerpt:
First, even when controlling for perceived addiction to cyberpornography and overall sexual functioning, cyberpornography use remained directly associated with sexual dissatisfaction. Even though this negative direct association was of small magnitude, time spent viewing cyberpornography seems to be a robust predictor of lower sexual satisfaction.
39) Relationship quality predicts online sexual activities among Chinese heterosexual men and women in committed relationships (2016) – Excerpt:
In this study, we examined the online sexual activities (OSAs) of Chinese men and women in committed relationships, with a focus on the characteristics of OSAs and the factors prompting men and women with steady partners to engage in OSAs. Almost 89% of the participants reported OSA experiences in the past 12 months even when they had a real-life partner. As predicted, individuals with lower relationship quality in real life, including low relationship satisfaction, insecure attachment, and negative communication patterns, engaged in OSAs more frequently. Overall, our results suggest that variables influencing offline infidelity may also influence online infidelity.
40) The Role of Internet Pornography Use and Cyber Infidelity in the Associations between Personality, Attachment, and Couple and Sexual Satisfaction (2017) – Excerpts:
Our results indicated that pornography use is associated with couple and sexual difficulties through increased cyber infidelity.
Pornography use was negatively related to sexual satisfaction for men, but positively for women. In men, pornography use is associated with higher sexual desire, stimulation, and gratification. However, these effects may lead to decreased sexual desire their partner and decreased sexual satisfaction within the couple.
41) The Development of the Problematic Pornography Consumption Scale (PPCS) (2017)
This paper’s goal was the creation of a problematic porn use questionnaire. In the process included validating the instruments. The researchers found that higher scores on the porn use questionnaire were related to lower sexual satisfaction. An excerpt:
Satisfaction with sexual life was weakly and negatively correlated with PPCS scores.
42) Explicit Sexual Movie Viewing in the United States According to Selected Marriage and Lifestyle, Work and Financial, Religion and Political Factors (2017) – Excerpts:
Analyses involved 11,372 adults who responded to questions about demographics and explicitly sexual movie use in the General Social Survey (GSS) from 2000 to 2014. Viewing such movies was related to less happiness in marriage, multiple sex partners in past year, less satisfaction with one’s financial situation, no religious preference, and a more liberal political orientation.
Explicit sexual movie viewing is associated with factors from diverse domains, including poorer relationship quality, more liberal sexual views and practices, poorer economic conditions, lower religious orientation or commitment, and more liberal political views.
43) Associative pathways between pornography consumption and reduced sexual satisfaction (2017) – Excerpt:
Guided by sexual script theory, social comparison theory, and informed by prior research on pornography, socialization, and sexual satisfaction, the present survey study of heterosexual adults tested a conceptual model linking more frequent pornography consumption to reduced sexual satisfaction via the perception that pornography is a primary source of sexual information, a preference for pornographic over partnered sexual excitement, and the devaluation of sexual communication. The model was supported by the data for both men and women.
Pornography consumption frequency was associated with perceiving pornography as a primary source of sexual information, which was associated with a preference for pornographic over partnered sexual excitement and the devaluation of sexual communication. Preferring pornographic to partnered sexual excitement and devaluing sexual communication were both associated with less sexual satisfaction.
44) The pervasive role of sex mindset: Beliefs about the malleability of sexual life is linked to higher levels of relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction and lower levels of problematic pornography use (2017) – Excerpt:
The examined model showed that growth sex mindset had moderate positive association with sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction while problematic pornography use only showed a negative, but weak one.
45) He’s Just Not That Into Anyone: the Impact of Sex Fantasy on Attraction (2017)
This “extended abstract” discusses 4 experiments that involved fantasizing about sexual stimuli. All results suggested that sexual fantasy reduces desire for romantic relationships. Excerpt:
Engaging in sexual fantasy increases attraction to sexual targets, but decreases attraction to romantic targets. This research adds to the literature on sex fantasy, attraction, and offers practical implications on porn watching, sex in advertising, and relationships.
46) Is the Relationship Between Pornography Consumption Frequency and Lower Sexual Satisfaction Curvilinear? Results From England and Germany (2017) – Excerpts:
Several studies using different methods have found that pornography consumption is associated with lower sexual satisfaction. The language used by media-effects scholars in discussions of this association implies an expectation that lowered satisfaction is primarily due to frequent-but not infrequent-consumption. Actual analyses, however, have assumed linearity. Linear analyses presuppose that for each increase in the frequency of pornography consumption there is a correspondingly equivalent decrease in sexual satisfaction.
Survey data from two studies of heterosexual adults, one conducted in England and the other in Germany, were employed. Results were parallel in each country and were not moderated by gender. Simple slope analyses suggested that when the frequency of consumption reaches once a month, sexual satisfaction begins to decrease, and that the magnitude of the decrease becomes larger with each increase in the frequency of consumption.
47) Personal Pornography Viewing and Sexual Satisfaction: A Quadratic Analysis (2017) – Excerpts
This article presents results from a survey of approximately 1,500 U.S. adults. Quadratic analyses indicated a curvilinear relationship between personal pornography viewing and sexual satisfaction in the form of a predominately negative, concave downward curve. The nature of the curvilinearity did not differ as a function of participants’ gender, relationship status, or religiosity.
For all groups, negative simple slopes were present when viewing reached once a month or more. These results are correlational only. However, if an effects perspective were adopted, they would suggest that consuming pornography less than once a month has little or no impact on satisfaction, that reductions in satisfaction tend to initiate once viewing reaches once a month, and that additional increases in the frequency of viewing lead to disproportionately larger decrements in satisfaction.
48) The Survey of Sexual Health and Pornography among Divorce-Asking Women in West Azerbaijan-Iran: A Cross-Sectional Study (2017) – Excerpts:
One of the factors affecting the incidence of divorce and relationship problems between couples is the sexual and marital behaviors. There are several different reasons to suspect that pornography might affect divorce in either a positive or a negative way. Therefore this study evaluated the sexual health of divorce-asking in Urmia, Iran.
Conclusions: The results of the study indicated that who had low sexual satisfaction score, had higher rate of watching pornography clips. Based on current study, paying attention to family education and counseling programs especially in the sexual field will be more fruitful.
49) Pornography consumption of young adults in the context of gender stereotypes and sexual behaviour (2017) – Excerpts:
In the empirical study an online questionnaire about consumption habits and sexual behaviour was filled in by 130 young adults between 18 and 30 years. While there are less accurate coherences of female pornography consumption habits, males could feel possible influences in their sex-life, because of an higher pornography consumption frequency. The pornography consumption habits of men are correlating negatively with the reported frequency of sexual intercourse and ratings of their sexual life.
50) Pornography consumption and its association with sexual concerns and expectations among young men and women (2017) – Excerpts:
Multivariate regression analyses revealed that visual pornography viewership was uniquely associated with higher partner performance expectations among women. Among men, visual pornography viewership was uniquely associated with body- and performance-related cognitive distractions during sexual activity. Literary pornography use was not uniquely associated with these variables among men or women. The results of this investigation suggest that individuals who consume visual pornography may experience some forms of sexual insecurity and sexual expectations related to their pornography use.
51) The Role of Internet Pornography Use and Cyber Infidelity in the Associations between Personality, Attachment, and Couple and Sexual Satisfaction (2017)
In addition to increased fidelity, porn use was also correlated with poorer sexual & relationship satisfaction. Excerpts:
Many researchers and clinicians have attempted to identify variables related to couple and sexual satisfaction. Some have focused on personality   , others on attachment  , sexuality  , conflicts, violence, lack of commitment  , and many other variables. New behaviors surrounding computer technologies, specifically pornography use and cyber infidelity, are social, cultural, and relational issues, and need to be included in new explanatory models. Our results indicated that pornography use is associated with couple and sexual difficulties through increased cyber infidelity. These original findings confirm the existence of “modern” forms of infidelity. While previous studies have suggested that these virtual relationships do not represent a “real” physical transgression of couple norms or a betrayal of one’s partner  , our empirical data is evidence to the contrary.
52) Pornography Use: Its Impact On Heterosexual Men’s Lives & Romantic Relationship (2018) – Excerpts:
180 males aged 18 – 29 years responded to the Pornography Use Scale, Pornography Consumption Effect Scale (PCES), and Investment Model Scale. Our study demonstrates that the more pornography males used, the more problems it created in their lives. Similarly, the men’s perception of negative effects of pornography increased and their perception of the positive effects of pornography decreased with increased use of pornography.
As pornography use in males increase, their commitment, satisfaction and investment in their romantic relationships decrease, while their perception of attractive alternatives outside their relationship increases.
53) Pornography use, marital status and sexual satisfaction in a non-clinical sample (2018) – Excerpts:
In the present study, the association between sexual satisfaction and frequency of pornography use was examined, as well as the effect of marital status and its interaction with frequency of pornography use. A sample of 204 people completed an online survey. Results suggest that sexual satisfaction is negatively associated with frequency of pornography use. Marital status also correlated significantly with sexual satisfaction, but the effect of the interaction between both independent variables was not significant.
54) Pornography Consumption and Sexual Satisfaction in a Korean Sample (2018) – Excerpts:
This research report assessed pornography consumption and sexual satisfaction in a heterosexual sample of Korean adults. Consistent with prior studies, the linear association between pornography consumption and satisfaction was negative and significant. However, the addition of a quadratic term to the equation increased model fit. Interaction effect analyses revealed an inverted U relationship for both men and women, such that occasional pornography consumption was associated with higher satisfaction, while consumption with any degree of regularity was associated with lower satisfaction. Further assessments showed that the negative relationship between more regular pornography consumption and lower satisfaction was slightly more marked for women, while the positive relationship between intermittent pornography consumption and higher satisfaction was slightly more marked for men. The nature of the relationship between pornography consumption and satisfaction was similar for religious and nonreligious people and for people in a relationship and not in a relationship.
55) Is Women’s Problematic Pornography Viewing Related to Body Image or Relationship Satisfaction? (2018) – Excerpts:
We specifically examined the relationships between viewing frequency and problematic viewing constructs on body image and relationship satisfaction in women….. Also regarding H1, viewing frequency was significantly negatively associated with women’s relationship satisfaction at the bivariate level.
56) Behind Closed Doors: Individual and Joint Pornography Use Among Romantic Couples (2018)
Note: The % of women in relationships that regularly use porn is not very high. So findings that higher porn use for females is related to greater sexual desire is based on a tiny percentage of females who regularly use porn. Cross-sectional data from the largest nationally representative US survey (General Social Survey) reported that only 2.6% of married women had visited a “pornographic website” in the last month. Data from 2000, 2002, 2004 (for more see Pornography and Marriage, 2014).
Using a dyadic data set of 240 committed heterosexual couples from the United States, we explored actor and partner associations between pornography use, sexual dynamics, and relational well-being. We also explored how couple pornography use and partner knowledge of pornography use were associated with well-being. Results suggested that female pornography use was associated with higher female sexual desire but no other dependent variables. Male pornography use was associated with a wide array of negative well-being indicators, including less male and female relationship satisfaction, lower female sexual desire, and lower male positive communication. Couple pornography use was associated with higher reported sexual satisfaction for both partners but no other well-being indicators.
57) Influences of Sociosexuality and Commitment on Online Sexual Activities: The Mediating Effect of Perceptions of Infidelity (2019) – Excerpt:
The perceived infidelity of online sexual activity (OSA) has been noted as an important factor contributing to individual differences in OSA among people in romantic relationships. OSAs were classified as viewing sexually explicit material, seeking sexual partners, cybersex, and flirting. Participants were 313 heterosexuals in romantic relationships who completed measures of OSA experience, sociosexuality, commitment, and perceptions of infidelity. The results showed that more unrestricted sociosexuality and less commitment were associated with more frequent engagement in OSAs.
58) Pornography, preference for porn‐like sex, masturbation, and men’s sexual and relationship satisfaction (2019)
Questionable write-up, and playing games with the data, obscures the actual findings: Both studies (not just study 2) reported more porn use related to less sexual and relationship satisfaction. This paper attempts to blame masturbation, not porn, for relationship dissatisfaction. However, there is no legitimate method to tease masturbation apart from porn use. Excerpts:
Frequent pornography use was associated with sexual dissatisfaction, greater preference for porn‐like sex, and more frequent masturbation in both studies. Pornography use was associated with relationship dissatisfaction in Study 2 only (not true)…
59) Examining sexual motivation profiles and their correlates using latent profile analysis (2019)
The write-up of this 2019 study leaves a lot to be desired. That said this figure #4 from the full paper reveals a lot. Problematic porn use is strongly related to poorer scores on four factors. They were harmonious sexual passion (HSP); obsessive sexual passion (OSP); sexual satisfaction (SEXSAT); life satisfaction (LIFESAT). Simply put, problematic porn use was linked to far lower scores on lower sexual passion, sexual satisfaction & life satisfaction (group to the right). In comparison, the group that scored highest on all these measures had the least problematic porn use (group to left).
60) Pornography and Heterosexual Women’s Intimate Experiences with a Partner (2019) – Excerpts:
We surveyed 706 heterosexual women (18-29 years of age) in the United States, associating consumption of pornography with sexual preferences, experiences, and concerns. Among female consumers who were sexually active, higher rates of consumption for masturbation were associated with increased mental activation of the pornographic script during sex-heightened recall of pornographic images during sex with a partner, heightened reliance on pornography for achieving and maintaining arousal, and a preference for pornography consumption over sex with a partner. Furthermore, higher activation of the pornographic script during sex, rather than simply viewing pornographic material, was also associated with higher rates of insecurities about their appearance and diminished enjoyment of intimate acts such as kissing or caressing during sex with a partner.
61) Affection substitution: The effect of pornography consumption on close relationships (2019)
The abstract attempts to obfuscate the basic correlations , which were pretty straightforward: More porn use was related to greater depression & loneliness/less relationship satisfaction & closeness. Excerpts:
In this study, 357 adults reported their level of affection deprivation, their weekly pornography consumption, their goals for using pornography (including life satisfaction and loneliness reduction), and indicators of their individual and relational wellness…. As predicted, affection deprivation and pornography consumption were inversely related to relational satisfaction and closeness, while being positively related to loneliness and depression.
62) Underlying Mechanisms Affecting the Relationship Between Sexually Explicit Material Consumption and Relationship Satisfaction in Long-term Relationships (2019) – Excerpt:
However, SEM consumption was negatively related to relationship satisfaction among heterosexual, but not gay or lesbian individuals. This study explored the processes underlying the relationship between SEM and relationship satisfaction by applying evolutionary mechanisms relevant to human mating.
63) Prevalence, Patterns and Self-Perceived Effects of Pornography Consumption in Polish University Students: A Cross-Sectional Study (2019)
Large study (n = 6463) on male & female college students (median age 22) reports relatively high levels of porn addiction (15%), escalation of porn use (tolerance), withdrawal symptoms, and porn-related sexual & relationship problems. Relevant excerpts:
The most common self-perceived adverse effects of pornography use included: the need for longer stimulation (12.0%) and more sexual stimuli (17.6%) to reach orgasm, and a decrease in sexual satisfaction (24.5%)…
Age of first exposure was significantly associated with reported need for longer stimulation and more sexual stimuli to reach orgasm when using pornography, decrease in sexual satisfaction, and quality of romantic relationship…
In the opinion of the majority of the surveyed students, pornography use may have a negative effect on the quality of social relationships (58.7%), mental health (63.9%) and sexual performance (67.7%)….
64) Sexual and reproductive health and rights in Sweden 2017 (2019)
A 2017 survey by The Swedish Public Health Authority contains a section discussing their findings on pornography. This study is in the previous section, also. Greater pornography use was related to poorer sexual health and decreased sexual dissatisfaction. Excerpts:
Forty-one percent of men aged 16 to 29 are frequent users of pornography, i.e. they consume pornography on a daily basis or almost on a daily basis. The corresponding percent among women is 3 percent. Our results also show an association between frequent pornography consumption and poorer sexual health, and an association with transactional sex, too high expectations of one’s sexual performance, and dissatisfaction with one’s sex life. Almost half of the population state that their pornography consumption does not affect their sex life, while a third do not know if it affects it or not. A small percentage of both women and men say their pornography use has a negative effect on their sex life. It was more common among men with higher education to regularly use pornography compared to men with lower education.
There is a need for more knowledge on the link between pornography consumption and health. An important preventive piece is to discuss the negative consequences of pornography with boys and young men, and school is a natural place to do this.
65) Which Dimensions of Human Sexuality Are Related to Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (CSBD)? Study Using a Multidimensional Sexuality Questionnaire on a Sample of Polish Males (2019)
The study compared a group of treatment-seeking male porn users to a control group of males from the general population. The treatment-seeking men reported significantly higher rates of porn use (though most of the controls used porn). Higher rates of porn use were related to:
- feeling more depressed about one’s sex life
- less satisfaction with one’s sex life
- greater fear of sexual relationships
- greater sexual anxiety
- lower sexual esteem
- less sexual motivation
66) Effect of pornography on married couples (2019)
A rare Egyptian study. While the study reports porn use increasing parameters of arousal, the long-term effects don’t match porn’s short-term effects.
The study shows that watching pornography has a statistically positive correlation with years of marriage. This was in agreement with Goldberg et al. 14 who stated that pornography is highly addictive.
There is a highly negative correlation between satisfaction of sexual life and watching pornography as 68.5% of positive watchers are not satisfied with their sexual life.
Pornography increases masturbation among 74.6% of watchers, but it could not help to reach orgasm among 61.5% of them. Pornography watching increases the incidence of divorce (33.8%) (P = 0.001).
Conclusion: Pornography has a negative effect on marital relation.
Table from the study:
67) A Psychological Perspective of Craving Towards Pornography and Its Effect on Relationship Satisfaction and Sexual Attitude (2020) – Excerpts:
The results indicate that there exists an insignificant relationship between pornography craving among dating and non-dating males. Hence, the hypothesis was not supported. The reason for no significant relationship found between dating and non-dating males might be due to the dearth of sample size. Though, there is a slight difference in the mean of dating scores and non-dating scores i.e. dating mean score is lower than non-dating scores. This indicates that both the groups watch such content on nearly equal level. The present study found that there was a negative correlation (-0.303) between pornography craving and couple satisfaction. This indicates that higher is crave for pornography, lower will be the relationship satisfaction.
68) Are Playboy (and girl) Norms Behind the Relationship Problems Associated with Pornography Viewing in Men and Women?
The basic correlations: higher frequency of porn use (and problematic porn use) correlated with poorer relationship satisfaction and less commitment for both men & women. Excerpts:
Furthermore, we controlled for the role of sexual orientation. Our results were partially consistent with our hypotheses. Consistent with H1, pornography viewing frequency was modestly negatively correlated with relationship satisfaction for men (and women) when playboy norms were not entered in the model. The size of the correlations was also roughly commensurate with metanalytic findings from Wright and colleagues’ (2017). Moreover, problematic pornography viewing was also modestly inversely related to relationship satisfaction in men (and women). Similarly, partially consistent with H2, pornography viewing frequency was modestly negatively correlated with relationship commitment in men (and women) when playboy norms were not entered in the model.
I find studies like this annoying. Seems like the authors injected a variable (“Playboy Norms”) that cannot be teased apart from porn use. We know that porn shapes sexual norms. I tweeted about this attempt to downplay the study’s basic correlations. How can behaviors/attitudes be factored out when porn use shapes sexual attitudes & behaviors. This includes “Playboy Norms”, or any other sexual assessment one might choose to employ. Employing variables to downplay relevant correlations is called an “Everest regression”. The Everest Regression is what happens when you “control” for a fundamental variable when comparing two populations. For example after controlling for height, Mount Everest is room temperature. Porn studies often employ this strategy to obfuscate findings that place porn in a negative light.
69) Does Low-Cost Sexual Gratification Make Men Less Eager to Marry? Pornography Use, Masturbation, Hookup Sex, and Desire to Be Married Among Single Men (2020)
By RealYBOP member Samuel Perry. Oddly, the results of more porn use correlating with wanting to be married is being spun as porn use being beneficial to relationships (Huh?). Following this logic, alcohol is beneficial to relationships because drinking alone at a bar is correlated with wanting to be married, or wanting a girlfriend, or wanting to get laid. No matter, the study reported that more porn use was correlated with poorer sexual contentment:
70) Watching Pornography Alone or Together: Longitudinal Associations With Romantic Relationship Quality (2020)
A few comments. First, the couples were unmarried, so it may tell us little about long-term relationships. Somewhat typical results: men who watch alone had poorer relationship satisfaction while females who watch alone had better relationship quality. In past studies, men who watched alone comprised the vast majority of study participants, while women who watched alone were usually a small percentage of the sample (and watched far less frequently that their male counterparts). In this study, only 2.9% of the women reported “often viewing”, so the finding involves outlier couples. While watching porn together was related to some measures of higher relationship quality, only 3.2% indicated “often” viewing together. The findings apply to a relatively small percentage of unmarried couples in their 20’s (average age 26). Interesting finding – Both watching alone and watching together were related to higher levels of psychological aggression between partners. Excerpts:
A random national sample of 1,234 individuals, who began the study in unmarried heterosexual romantic relationships of at least 2 months’ duration, completed five waves of mail-in surveys over a 20-month period. Watching pornography alone was generally associated with poorer relationship quality for men (e.g., lower relationship adjustment and commitment, less emotional intimacy), but better relationship quality for women. People who reported watching more pornography with their partner reported more relationship intimacy and increases in watching together over time were associated with increases in sexual intimacy. Both watching alone and watching together were related to higher levels of psychological aggression between partners, with few differences by gender.
For men, the longitudinal (within-subject) analyses showed a similar pattern. As men watched more pornography alone over time, they reported decreasing relationship adjustment, commitment, and emotional intimacy.
For both men and women, higher levels of watching alone and increases in watching alone were associated with less sexual intimacy.
71) Associations Between Pornography Use and Sexual Dynamics Among Heterosexual Couples (2020)
As with all other qualitative studies, male porn use was related to poorer sexual satisfaction:
Consistent with hypothesis 1 and previous research (5, 27,29) male partner pornography use had a negative association with his own sexual satisfaction, despite accounting for multiple elements of sexual desire and frequency of sexual activity, as well as controlling for relationship length and religiosity.… This is one of the most consistent associations found in the literature on pornography and relational outcomes29 and additional research is still needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind this association.
Results for females differed:
Despite many indirect associations from female pornography use, her use did not have any direct association with either satisfaction or the frequency of engaging in sexual behaviors, providing support for hypothesis 2. All associations between female pornography use and the outcomes of interest were mediated by her own desire.
Note: When evaluating the research, it’s important to know that a relatively small percentage of all coupled females regularly consumes internet porn. This study only surveyed 240 couples, using the somewhat unreliable M-Turk system. The study failed to provide data on how many women regularly used porn.
Note – excerpts from a 2018 review of the literature (Pornography, Pleasure, and Sexuality: Towards a Hedonic Reinforcement Model of Sexually Explicit Internet Media Use, summarizing porn’s effects on sexual satisfaction:
Another domain in which the present model may also have implications is sexual satisfaction. As hedonic sexual motives are often focused on obtaining sexual satisfaction, one would expect an increase in such motives to be associated with sexual satisfaction outcomes. However, given the immense number of factors that contribute to sexual satisfaction (e.g., relational intimacy, commitment, self-confidence, self-esteem), it also likely that these relationships between IPU and satisfaction will be complex.
For some individuals, an increase in hedonic sexual motives may be associated with actual decreases in sexual satisfaction, as high levels of desire may be met with frustration, particularly if such increases are not met with increases in the satisfaction associated with partnered sexual activity (Santtila et al., 2007). Alternatively, if one were to start with low levels of hedonic sexual motivation, an increase in such motivation may be associated with greater sexual satisfaction as the individual becomes more focused on obtaining pleasure in a sexual encounter.
IPU and sexual satisfaction
In contrast to many of the previously discussed domains related to IPU and motivations, in which research is still burgeoning, the relationships between IPU and sexual satisfaction have been extensively studied, with dozens of publications addressing the topic. Rather than exhaustively review the list of studies examining IPU and sexual satisfaction, the findings of these studies are summarized in Table 1. [This paper is open access and Table 1 is available from the link above]
In general, as indicated in Table 1, the relationships between IPU and personal sexual satisfaction are complex, but consistent with the supposition that IP may promote more hedonic sexual motivations, particularly as use increases. Among couples, there is limited support for the idea that IPU may enhance sexual satisfaction, but only when it is incorporated into partnered sexual activities. On an individual level, there is consistent evidence that IPU is predictive of lower sexual satisfaction in men, with both cross-sectional and longitudinal works pointing to the associations of such use with diminished satisfaction for men. Regarding women, scattered evidence suggests that IPU may enhance sexual satisfaction, have no effect on satisfaction, or diminish satisfaction over time. Despite these mixed findings, the conclusion of no significant effect of IPU on sexual satisfaction in women is the most common finding.
These results have also been confirmed by a recent meta-analysis (Wright, Tokunaga, Kraus, & Klann, 2017). Reviewing 50 studies of pornography consumption and various satisfaction outcomes (e.g., life satisfaction, personal satisfaction, relational satisfaction, sexual satisfaction), this meta-analysis found that pornography consumption (not internet-specific) was consistently related to and predictive of lower interpersonal satisfaction variables, including sexual satisfaction, but for men only. No significant findings were found for women. Collectively, such mixed results preclude definitive conclusions about the role of IP in influencing satisfaction for women.
One of the most important findings of recent works examining IPU and sexual satisfaction is that there appears to be a curvilinear relationship between use and satisfaction, so that satisfaction decreases more sharply as IPU becomes more common (e.g., Wright, Steffen, & Sun, 2017; Wright, Brigdes, Sun, Ezzell, & Johnson, 2017). The details of these studies are reflected in Table 1. Given clear evidence across multiple international samples, it seems reasonable to accept the conclusion that as IPU increases to more than once per month, sexual satisfaction decreases.
Furthermore, although these studies (Wright, Steffen, et al., 2017; Wright, Bridges et al., 2017) were cross-sectional, given the number of longitudinal studies (e.g., Peter & Valkenburg, 2009) linking IPU to lower sexual satisfaction, it is reasonable to infer that these associations are causal in nature. As IPU increases, interpersonal sexual satisfaction appears to decrease, which is consistent with the present model’s contention that IPU is associated with more hedonic and self-focused sexual motivation.
Finally, this anomalous Taylor Kohut study is often cited as evidence that porn use offers primarily benefits to couples: Perceived Effects of Pornography on the Couple Relationship: Initial Findings of Open-Ended, Participant-Informed, “Bottom-Up” Research. (Kohut et al., 2017). Click on the link to read more.
Two glaring methodical flaws produce meaningless results:
1) The study does not rest on a representative sample.
Whereas most studies show that a tiny minority of porn users’ female partners use porn, in this study 95% of the women used porn on their own. And 85% of the women had used porn since the beginning of the relationship (in some cases for years). Those rates are higher than in college-aged men! In other words, the researchers appear to have skewed their sample to produce the results they were seeking. Reality: Cross-sectional data from the largest US survey (General Social Survey) reported that only 2.6% of women had visited a “pornographic website” in the last month. Data from 2000, 2002, 2004. For more see – Pornography and Marriage (2014)
2) The study used “open ended” questions where the subject could ramble on and on about porn.
Then the researchers read the ramblings and decided, after the fact, what answers were “important”. And then they decide how to present (spin?) them in their paper. Then the researchers then had the gall to suggest that all the other studies on porn and relationships were flawed. These were studies which employed more established, scientific methodology and straightforward questions about porn’s effects. How is this method justified?
Despite these fatal flaws several couples reported significant negative effects from porn use, such as:
- Pornography is easier, more interesting, more arousing, more desirable, or more gratifying than sex with a partner
- Pornography use is desensitizing, decreases the ability to achieve or maintain sexual arousal, or to achieve orgasm.
- Some said that specifically described desensitization as the effect of pornography use
- Some were concerned a loss of intimacy or love.
- It was suggested that pornography makes real sex more boring, more routine, less exiting, or less enjoyable
For some reason these negative effects did not appear in articles about the study. The lead author’s new website and his attempt at fundraising raise more than a few questions.
Thousands of recovery stories consistent with the above research can be found on these pages:
Browse thousands of recovery self-reports to learn what those who’ve recovered from porn-induced sexual dysfunctions have experienced: Rebooting Accounts Page 1, Rebooting Accounts Page 2 and Rebooting Accounts page 3. In addition, the following eight pages contain shorter stories describing recovery from porn-induced sexual dysfunctions: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
- Guys Who Gave Up Porn: On Sex and Romance.
- Why Do I Find Porn More Exciting Than A Partner?
- The Other Porn Experiment