With the rise of the internet and the increasing ease at which media can be accessed, pornography use and addiction are also surging. There is no shortage of stereotypes or misconceptions about porn addiction or those who struggle with it. 

Greater awareness of the myths and facts of porn addiction is important for learning to recognize the condition and help people who have this condition receive the right treatment.

Myth 1: Porn Addiction Isn’t Real

Fact: Porn addiction is a real condition with real consequences.

Whether or not it is an official or recognized condition, there is no question that porn addiction is a major problem with devastating effects. The majority of therapists agree that excessive porn use harms relationships. Many mental health professionals treat an increasing amount of cases of compulsive porn use.

Doctors and scientists are still debating whether porn addiction truly is a disease in its own right. Currently, porn addiction is not officially classified as a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association or other medical agencies. However, recent research into problematic porn use and other addictive behaviors is changing how psychologists view these types of conditions. 

The idea that addiction doesn’t need to involve drugs, alcohol or other substances is becoming more mainstream. Recently, the World Health Organization recognized compulsive sexual behavior disorder in its International Classification of Diseases, so porn addiction may be officially recognized soon.

Myth 2: Porn Addiction Only Affects the Consumer

Fact: Porn addiction also affects people close to the consumer.

The primary person affected by porn addiction is, of course, the person who is addicted. However, the problems caused by such compulsive behavior permeates into their relationships with others. 

People in a romantic relationship with the porn consumer, especially a long-term committed relationship like a marriage, are affected the most. Other family members may be impacted as well, and even friends and colleagues may be affected indirectly.

Therapists agree that excessive porn use harms romantic partnerships. Partners of porn consumers feel less happy the more their partner watches porn. They often have self-esteem issues. Part of this is because people who watch more porn tend to have higher expectations of sex and sexual partners, and so become less interested or even disappointed in their real-life partner.

There are several less obvious ways the effects of porn addiction reach others:

  • Cyber-porn addicts spend at least 11-12 hours every week watching porn online, which takes time away from socializing with family and friends
  • Up to 28% of people who use computers at work visit pornographic websites during work hours, accounting for a significant amount of lost productivity
  • People who habitually use porn often develop financial difficulties as a result, which in turn causes hardship for families

Myth 3: Only Men Become Addicted to Porn

Fact: Men, women and non-binary genders can become addicted to porn.

The vast majority of people with porn addictions are men, but men aren’t the only ones. Exact numbers are tricky to pin down, but research has found a fair number of women are addicted to porn as well. One survey from Australia estimated that about 4.4% of men and 1.2% of women consider themselves addicted to pornography.

The number of women who use porn has been on the rise. Now, approximately one-third (33%) of all internet porn consumers are women, which is up from 14% in 2003. Though still the minority, more porn is being created specifically for women these days. A large amount of content is made to target other demographics now as well, including for LGBTQ+ and gender non-conforming interests.

Myth 4: Excessive Porn Use Causes Erectile Dysfunction

Fact: Excessive porn use can cause sexual performance issues, but does not necessarily lead to erectile dysfunction.

Over the past decade or so, there has been a sharp rise in sexual problems among men, particularly those under the age of 40. While other factors are at play, the increasing prevalence of internet pornography and porn addiction is a major contributor. Indeed, research has found that excessive porn use can lead to a variety of sexual problems, including:

  • Erectile dysfunction (impotence)
  • Abnormally low libido
  • Delayed ejaculation
  • Decreased sexual satisfaction

The most commonly cited sexual problem among young male porn consumers is erectile dysfunction (ED). Today, the prevalence rate of ED among men under the age of 40 has surpassed what the prevalence rate for older men was in the early 2000s.

In most cases of ED, there is a physical cause of the problem, which may be from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, nerve problems, low hormones or side effects of medications, for example. However, in about 10% to 20% of cases, the condition stems from a psychological cause. Decreased sexual desire and loss of interest in a sexual partner, caused in part or in whole by excessive porn use, can lead to trouble achieving or maintaining an erection.

Adding to this problem is the fact that most teenage boys are exposed to pornography before they become adults. Watching porn can give false impressions and unnaturally high expectations for real-life sexual encounters. This fact is especially true when adolescents start watching porn before they have sex for the first time. As a result, significant numbers of young men experience reduced interest in real-life partners, as well as other sexual problems.

Myth 5: People Addicted to Porn Simply Want More Sex

Fact: People can become addicted to porn regardless of how much sex they are having.

A common stereotype of porn consumers is a single man who turns to internet porn to satisfy an unfulfilled desire for sexual contact. Like other stereotypical images, this stereotype is not the case most of the time in reality. Many people with porn addictions are in committed relationships and would otherwise have a satisfying sex life.

When a behavior becomes an addiction, people keep participating in it whether they truly want to or not. Many people with a porn addiction wish that they could use porn less than they do. They may have tried to stop but have been unsuccessful. At this point, it has nothing to do with a desire for sex.

Myth 6: Porn Addiction Is Harmless

Fact: Porn addiction harms the consumer, their relationships and others.

As with other addictions, porn addiction is not harmless. By definition, addictive behavior is when someone does or thinks about an otherwise normal activity so much that it interferes with their daily activities or otherwise harms their life. Addictive behaviors, such as compulsive porn use, get in the way of relationships, disrupt family dynamics, cause problems at work and can lead to financial hardships.

Viewing porn on occasion is usually not a problem, nor is moderate porn use. However, excessive porn use runs the risk of several dangers, including:

  • Loss of intimacy in romantic relationships
  • Decreased self-esteem of sexual partners
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Loss of productivity at work
  • Getting fired for visiting porn sites at work
  • Financial difficulties (from decreased productivity and excessive spending on pornography)
  • Potentially contributing to illegal or exploitative industries (such as child pornography)

Addictions, such as substance abuse and pornography addictions, can have major impacts on the lives of those affected and the people close to them. If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol or drug use disorder and pornography addiction, help is always available. Call The Recovery Village today to learn what resources are available to you.