Pornography isn't inherently a vice. Watching it isn’t inherently detrimental. The problem with porn is the volume-and the porn industry is a volume business. In 2018, a whopping 114 years’ worth of pornographic content was uploaded to pornhub.com. A 2016 study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews estimated that 3 to 6 percent of people may have compulsive sexual behavior, or sex addiction, in which pornography plays a major role. Terry Crews and John Mayer have both spoken openly about porn dam-aging their lives.
So what? Well, over the past decade, research has linked pornography to sexual dysfunction, i.e., problems with arousal, attraction, and performance. Some studies suggest that frequent use of Internet pornography may dull the reward response in the brain. Similar to narcotics, the more porn you watch, the more you want to watch it, and the more you need to watch to satisfy yourself.
The Red Flags
Compulsive pornography use is not technically classified as an addiction, yet studies within the past decade found that porn can trigger addictive behaviors. If you’re not satisfied with one or two or seven sessions daily or you watch porn where you shouldn’t (at the office, in the car), you may want to rethink your “habit.”
Pornhub estimates that its highest traffic occurs between 10:00 P.M. and midnight, with peak activity on Sunday nights. Friday sees some of the fewest visitors of the week, which may suggest that social situations limit opportunities for porn use.
Other flares: Do you turn to porn when you’re under stress? When you’re bummed out or anxious? Lonely? Pissed off at your partner? If so, then you might use it to self-medicate, which is especially unhealthy, says William M. Struthers, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Wheaton College and author of Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain.
How to Cut Back
It’s not just about stopping viewing pornography,” says Struthers. “It’s about figuring out why you were viewing the pornography and replacing it with something that’s healthier. "If you’re stressed and regularly fire up a few videos as relief, then taking away porn is only going to make you more stressed. Determine what’s upsetting you, and deal with that directly at the gym, through meditation, or with a therapist.
Replace your Internet connection with real connection, too. Shut off your phone (67 percent of Pornhub users watch on their smartphone) during those high-usage times and/or make plans with people. You can also safeguard your devices with an app like FamiSafe that blocks pornographic content. Let a very trusted friend set the password.
Then it’s time to see a sex-addiction counselor. Check with your insurer to find specific providers. You can also visit locator.apa.org to search for and filter qualified therapists by specialty and location.
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