7 Porn Addiction Side Effects

What Unexpected Effects Does Porn Have On Us?

We were created naked. Innocent. Yet, that same nakedness has become perverted by some resulting in countless men, women, and yes, tragically, even children, living shame-filled, less than intended lives, struggling to find significance in their wandering through life.  

Pornography begins it’s addictive hold on a person from the very first image viewed.  There are a number of scientific studies that show how the brain is affected as images are viewed and dopamine is released, giving the individual conflicting messages in their body and mind.  “This isn’t right” says the spirit as it wars against the body interpreting the images effect as “that looks and feels good”. And so the war begins. A battle of rationalization begins and we quickly become entrenched in justifying the unjustifiable. We rationalize the irrational. We seek out selfish pursuits instead of seeing how we can serve others.  

For our purposes, we are defining pornography as any visual or mental image that creates sexual and/or lustful desires, thoughts and/or feelings for the purpose of self-gratification.  The images could be used as a tool for masturbation or could just be used for a momentary visual “pleasure”. As mentioned earlier, we were created as sexual beings, and nakedness and sex are not in and of themselves, wrong. However, nakedness and sex were intended for giving to another in a committed relationship. Any expression of sex and nakedness outside of those parameters (sacrificial giving and in relationship) is replacing positive benefits with life-altering, negative side effects.  

As one begins their porn addiction with that first click, the pressing of play, or the turning of the page, the journey of entrapment begins as the battle for the mind, body and spirit begin. Lost in the battle becomes the “best you” that you are designed and created to be. 

Below are 7 negative side effects that pornography provides:

Porn Kills Pleasure

One can become calloused to pleasure.  It is ironic that seeking pleasure in porn actually desensitizes you to what feels good.  What is proven to be healthy sexual arousal becomes less effective. 

Erectile dysfunction treatment has become more and more prescribed with the rise of pornography’s ease of accessibility at everyone’s fingertips any time of day or night. With the glance at a phone to the turning on the latest hit TV show, pornography is readily available for consumption.  With that access, our minds begin to crave more and our bodies, in turn, stop reacting the way we were originally wired. So the re-wired, addicted brain turns to more porn, more imagery, more risky acts to achieve the same desired physical response. What was once a healthy, physical response to sex has created a complacent callousness that demands more in order for our bodies to “feel” aroused.  We start to look at what is wrong with us physically, like erectile dysfunction, and fail to view what is wrong with our mind.  

Porn Leads to Depression

Sexual experiences are not just a physical act but begin and end in the mind.  The best foreplay starts with words and after sex, affirmations of enjoyment help cement the bond between a wife and a husband as they hold each other.  When we participate in pornography and sex outside of marriage, our minds take a hit. Depression and pornography are strongly linked together. Depression via pornography comes because we are living in a false reality in our mind that is contrary to how we were intended to live.  We were made to be most fulfilled when serving others. Pornography is only used for fulfilling selfish desires. When we live in contrast to how we were created we start to ask questions like, “Why am I not happy?”, “What is wrong with me?”, and “What is my purpose?” These questions are ultimately tied to our internal processing of feelings of significance.  When consumed with selfish pursuits through pornography we open ourselves up to feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, and unworthiness. The further into the addiction cycle of pornography one goes, the closer you come to depression. 

Porn Ruins Relationships

One can become casual in their relationships.  The loss of intimacy and genuine interest in others is a negative side effect of pornography addiction.  The addict stops becoming grateful for people in their lives and becomes expectant of people in their lives.  What can this person do for me becomes a dominant, but sometimes unrecognized filter that the addict uses to interaction in relationship.  This turns encounters into casual and complacent meetings as one can easily “check-out” of conversations and events if it is deemed not to be “fulfilling” to the desires of the addict. 

Authenticity in relationship is rarely achieved for the addict because to live in authenticity requires openness.  To be open, and addict has to be willing to admit his struggles and ask for help. Shame and secrecy often locks the addict into isolation resulting in a casual approach to relationship allowing the addict to keep others at a distance.  In short, porn ruins relationships. Not just marriages, but also parent-child relationships, and friendships are all negatively affected by the porn addict’s vice. 

Pornography And Masturbation

The addict becomes an expert at the objectification of people, making mental notes and comments on “flaws” as they compare others to the false reality their mind lives in. The porn addict begins to view people as tools for masturbating, deciding if the people they meet in a day to day basis will help them fulfill their desire to fantasize and masturbate to the images they create in their mind.  This critical nature becomes the filter as they relate to anyone they come into contact with during regular life experiences.  Guilt and shame are used to shape the addicts response others. They criticize a coworker to distract from their own failures at work.  They look at someone and visually size them up in comparison to how that person may or may not fulfill their sexual desires. 

Porn Kills Creativity

This critical view of life kills the creativity that could be realized for an addict. Instead of using their God-given talents and experiences to come up with unique solutions and ideas, the addict views life through a simple comparison of how does this make me feel. The selfish, self-centered life limits creativity in problem solving situations.

Porn Never Satisfies

The addict also can become a quick-tempered, unhappy, and an unsatisfied person.  As a life of selfish fulfillment is pursued, discontentment flares up and shows up in various, mean-spirited ways.   From lashing out at strangers and family members to a me-first mentality, the addict lives in a way that seeks to do things that make them feel better.  This is from a natural desire to “feel better” because of the inner battle that porn creates inside the consumer. Porn consumes the consumer and creates a cruel response to the real world around them. In the addict’s mind, nothing seems to make them feel better for very long and they can continually look for ways to feed their self-centered lifestyle.  The response to this wrong processing often results in an unhappy and ultimately, mean-acting person.  

Porn Locks One Into an Addictive Cycle

The addict’s entire life can be corrupted by the cyclical nature of pursuing porn.  The shame cycle, as described by Patrick Carnes, Ph.D. In his book, Out of the Shadows1, is most evident as the addict views porn to “feel better” and after a momentary “hit” of dopamine to the brain the addict quickly “feels bad” (shame and guilt) and eventually returns back to porn to get that momentary “good feeling” again.  This shame cycle leaves an addict feeling out of control of their life.

Much like a computer that has been infected by a virus, the addict can appear to be running along fine, but under the surface the mind is dealing with feelings of insecurity, lack of acceptance, fear of exposure, and many more internal processing problems. At any time, they rise to the surface and cause life processing problems.  

Realizing there are negative side effects is a first step in healing (regardless if you want to call it an addiction or not).  Please take a few minutes to take our PornAddictionTest to discover how we can help break the patterns and begin living a healed life of fulfillment.  You are meant to live a life of purpose not one consumed by porn. There is freedom available to you today.  

1 CARNES, P. (1983). Out of the shadows: understanding sexual addiction. Minneapolis, Minn, CompCare Publications.