The Effects of Pornography on Mental health and Sexual Practices

With the quick and easy access to an unlimited, ever-increasing supply of porn these days, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that both science and personal accounts are coming out by the day, exposing the effects porn has on peoples’ lives. But is it ultimately a positive or negative impact? At the time of us writing this post, the vast majority of research is showing that porn has profoundly negative, long-term effects on people’s lives, relationships, and our society.

On the surface, tobacco and porn don’t seem to have a lot in common but more and more studies are coming out showing that consuming pornography tricks your brain into releasing the same pleasure chemicals as other behaviors, or even drugs. Pornography is a drug and addictive, just like tobacco. It also can impact your mental health and sexual behaviors. A plethora of research links early exposure to pornography to mental health issues and risky and violent sexual behaviors. Various studies done in Ethiopia have linked compulsive and early exposure to pornography to risky sexual practices. It is also used as a coping mechanism for depressive symptoms and depression (Tesfaye et al., 2019).


Porn can impact your reward pathway in one's brain by releasing dopamine. Dopamine is a "pleasure" chemical that motivates the mind to do things that give joy and improve chances of survival. Like addictive substances, pornography activates the reward center by false signals creating a craving for the same sensation. The habitual consumption of sexually explicit stimuli can hijack the brain to seek more "false signals," just like drug addiction.


Porn addiction can impact personal and social behaviors. Many Johns (prostitute's clients) are porn addicts seeking more extreme stimuli to feel excited again, which fuels the demand for prostitutes and human trafficking victims. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) has reported that males and females with early exposure to pornography were more likely to accept rape myths and have sexual fantasies that involved rape (Fight the New Drug, 2020). Also, many Incarcerated sexual offenders that had early exposure to pornography display less empathy for children in abusive situations and reported more child victims (Simons et al., 2002).


A study done at Jimma University in Ethiopia shows that students who watched pornography are approximately four times more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors. Engaging in these dangerous activities can expose young people to various health problems such as sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS (Tesfaye, 2019). The students find it taboo to openly discuss sexual issues with parents; thus, their sex education mainly comes from peers or pornography. The study also relieved a positive correlation between risky sexual behavior and depression. NCOSE reports that higher pornography use was significantly associated with less self-worth, loneliness and depressive symptoms.


In Ethiopia, sex education is limited and mainly focusing on the biological perspective. The social stigma surrounding sex has left many young powerless to understand the social aspects of their sexuality. They are turning to pornography to filling gaps which is detrimental to their mental and sexual health. A large body of research has associated porn with depression, anger, and anxiety. It also decreases the enjoyment of sexual intimacy, some report erectile dysfunction.


The prevalence of risky sexual behavior is high in Ethiopia. Intervention should be designed to reduce the consumption of pornography which can help develop a healthy society. The youth need an outlet to express and understand their sexuality to create healthy intimacy and self-love.


In addition, the porn industry make actors participate in unsafe sex to the countless real stories of performers speaking out about the rape, violence, and drugs behind the camera, there is certainly a dark reality to this industry. Porn tries to normalize this exploitation, but we’re not buying it. To watch porn is to support a questionable industry that abuses its actors and uses misogyny and domestic violence fantasies as entertainment, all in addition to harming those who watch it. How is this acceptable?




Reference

Camilleri, C., Perry, J. T., & Sammut, S. (2020, December 14). Compulsive Internet Pornography Use and

Mental Health: A Cross-Sectional Study in a Sample of University Students in the United States. Frontiers. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.613244/full.


Fight the New Drug. (2018, June 26). How Porn Affects The Brain Like A Drug. Fight the New Drug.

https://fightthenewdrug.org/how-porn-affects-the-brain-like-a-drug/.


Fight the New Drug. (2020, February 20). Is There a Connection Between Porn Culture and Rape Culture?

Fight the New Drug. https://fightthenewdrug.org/violence-and-rape-connected-with-porn/.


Kemp, S. (2020, February 17). Digital 2020: Ethiopia - DataReportal – Global Digital Insights.

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Muche, Achenef & Kassa, Getachew & Berhe, Abadi Kidanemariam & Abeje, Gedefaw. (2017).

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Simons, D.S. & Wurtele, Sandy & Heil, Peggy. (2002). Childhood Victimization and Lack of Empathy as

Predictors of Sexual Offending Against Women and Children. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 17. 1291-1307. 10.1177/088626002237857.


Tesfaye, Yonas & Gebrehiwot, Tsegaye & Tessema, Worknesh & Anand, Susan & Ahmed, Gutema &

Alemu, Daniel. (2019). Is There Association between Risky Sexual Behaviors and Depression Symptoms among Youth? A Case of Jimma University Students, Ethiopia. Psychiatry Journal. 2019. 10.1155/2019/3757656.


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