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Pornography is an addictive substance. The use of porn stimulates the reward centers of the brain, particular those centers in charge of Dopamine. Dopamine is a powerful hormone that is “responsible for reward-driven learning”. This hormone surges when a person experiences a novel stimuli, particularly one that is arousing in nature.  This means that new sexual experiences, those that are easily accessed due to pornography, are more stimulating than old ones, such as intimate sexual interaction with a partner.  Hard drugs, such as cocaine, also interact with the dopamine reward centers of the brain.  This means that pornography use can be just as addictive as these drugs. Unlike hard drugs, pornography is readily available, legal in most cases, and there is no physical limit to consumption.

Overstimulation of the reward centers of the brain, which can happen due to repeated dopamine spikes, can create desensitization.  Desensitization lowers the hormonal response to normal stimuli, this means that a person feels less pleasure from the same dosage of drugs, or the same session of pornography use.  That decrease in pleasure drives a user to seek out more stimulus, they might do this with ‘longer porn sessions, or more frequent porn viewing” (Carter).This increase in stimulus will further desensitize the brain, creating a downward spiral of use vs. reward.

There are also several serious emotional and physical side effects to the use of pornography and masturbation. When person orgasms the brain releases hormones meant to bind that person to the object of their arousal. In typical circumstances these hormones create feelings attachment to a sexual partner. With pornography use this attachment is created with the pornographic content.   When the same person experiences less stimulus from normal sexual interactions the attachment hormones also decrease.  This means that pornography use ultimately damages sexual relationships with a person’s significant other, even if the significant other is aware of, and accepting of the pornography use.

Using pornography also increases the risk for several social, emotional, and physical problems. Testosterone levels also tend to decrease in a man who uses pornography.  Testosterone is a very important hormone that regulates several functions such as appetite.  Men with lower testosterone levels are more likely to experience obesity, a lower rate of weight gain, and an “increased risk of some cancers,”. Men’s exposure to pornography has also been scientifically linked with “depression, low motivation, erectile dysfunction, concentration problems, and negative self-perceptions in terms of physical appearance and sexual functioning.  Early studies have also shown that people who use pornography are more hostile towards marriage, women in general, and children. Users were also more tolerant of extramarital affairs and more likely to cheat. Some of these studies dealt with as little as one hour of exposure to porn a week, when the threshold for pornography addiction is eleven hours a week. this means that even minimal use of pornography can have these negative effects.

Pornography is an addictive substance with a plethora of negative side effects.  Pornography stimulates the pleasure and reward centers of the brain, frequent use can desensitize these areas and create the need for a higher ‘dosage’ for pleasurable effects. Frequent use also lowers testosterone levels, creating physical side effects.  Quitting pornography use can only be beneficial.