Can Watching Porn Ruin Your Sex Life?

Most young people have watched porn at some point but what effect is it having on our sex lives and relationships?

Can porn really change your brain?

Porn is a way to delve into your sexual fantasies and discover what turns you on. It’s anonymous, it’s free from rejection and there are no nasty STIs to contend with. But are there drawbacks to making love to your computer? We explore the effect porn can have on your brain and how this can affect relationships and your performance in the sack.

Come on, porn can’t really change my brain – can it?

Actually, it can. Researchers have found that porn stimulates the same part of the brain that addictive drugs do. Watching porn makes us feel good because it releases feel-good hormones and as a result, we watch it over and over again. The problem is, over time, the brain becomes desensitised to what it sees and no longer releases those feel-good hormones so readily. In the same way that drug users, over time, need bigger hits in order to feel high, people watching porn need more and more hardcore stuff in order to get off. This is where your brain becomes a little one-track minded and your porn hobby begins to look more like an addiction. You might have a problem with porn if…

  • You’ve noticed your porn habit escalate from a few times a month to a few times a day.
  • You’ve noticed the type of porn you’re watching getting increasingly extreme.
  • Real sex doesn’t give you the same satisfaction that watching porn does.
  • You feel distracted from daily life or might even feel anxious or depressed as your brain becomes obsessed with getting its next porn ‘hit’.

Why won’t my bits work like they used to?

So you used to pride yourself on having racehorse stamina but are now dealing with severe mopey dick syndrome or just a general disinterest in real sex? Why is this? Well, it could be as a result of watching too much porn. Bingeing on porn can numb your brain to real-life sex and as a result, weaker signals are sent downstairs. This can mean erectile dysfunction for men and an inability to feel turned on for women.

What does this mean for my relationship?

Sex with real people is great. Unlike sex with a computer, sex with people offers emotional connection and the pleasure of being touched and touching someone else. Sex with a partner is also great for your mental health. Unfortunately, people who frequently watch porn often find their sex lives becoming a little ho-hum. This might be because:

  • You find it hard to get turned on without porn.
  • You find that real sex doesn’t live up to the sex in porn and therefore real sex feels a bit vanilla in comparison.
  • People who watch a lot of porn tend to simulate what they see online, in real life. This includes violent behaviour (usually towards women) like choking or coming on your partner’s face. Occasionally people are into this but never assume – there is a high chance they won’t enjoy being choked and you’ll just end up freaking them out. Always ask before trying something new and remember, communication is key to great sex.
  • Your partner may not like that you watch porn full stop and this could be driving them away.

How to get your mojo back

So the bad news is, porn can change your brain for the worse. But the good news is, brains are like plastic and you have the power to beat your obsession with porn and have great, (real) sex once more. Here are some pointers for getting your mojo back:

  • Go cold turkey. This can be tough if you’ve been a dedicated porn fanatic for a long time, but this is honestly the best and quickest way to improve your sex life. The less chance your brain has to associate porn with being turned on, the more chance your brain has to feel turned on when it comes to real sex.
  • Get your highs elsewhere. If porn is your go-to activity for a buzz, swap it for something else. Exercise is a great way to release endorphins and other feel-good hormones. It’s similar to porn in that way but a hell of a lot healthier for your mind and body.
  • Try masturbating without porn. Using your imagination rather than porn to masturbate can make your brain less lazy and porn obsessed.
  • Talk to your partner. If you feel your sex life is getting a bit boring, open up the conversation. Ask your partner what turns them on and perhaps try something new. If talking about sex feels embarrassing, read our article on How to Talk to Your Partner About Sex.

Next Steps

  • Relate is an affordable relationship and sex counselling service. 0300 100 1234
  • Brook provides free sexual health and wellbeing services for young people in the UK. Brook's services include local clinics and online digital sex and relationships tool.
  • Do you want to understand your relationship better? Love Smart helps you work it all out.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 13-Mar-2019

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