635922848006097635484640017_brain-on-porn1

Pornography is a new addition to civilization so its long-term effects are still generally unknown, so its current users are essentially participating in an unorganized international experiment as they are physiologically and psychologically rewired by it.

Dopamine is a chemical that functions in the brain to regulate reward-motivated behavior. Dysfunction of the dopamine system causes Parkinson’s disease and is implicated in schizophrenia, fibromyalgia, attention deficit disorder, social phobia, depression. Lack of dopamine release or receptor sensitivity causes anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure.

Reward increases dopamine and addictive behaviors increase it the most but dopamine also regulates motivation and action and is needed for encouragement, initiation, perseverance in behaviors.

Cognitive therapy rewires neurocircuitry and improves dopamine D2-receptor function which is responsible for CBT’s therapeutic effects (Cervenka et al., 2012).

Porn activates the same addiction-associated brain mechanisms as alcohol, heroin, and cocaine. All of these addictions produce a numbed pleasure response, that is, a decline in dopamine D2-receptors and CRF-1 receptors, less sensitivity to available brain dopamine, which leaves the addict less responsive to pleasure found in normal experiences.

A 2012 study on porn users found less reward circuit gray matter, fewer nerve connections, and a decline in opioid (pain-killing) receptors, these effects worsening as porn use increased (Kühn and Gallinat, 2014). 

Excess junk food, smoking, and internet use can also produce these effects, albeit less intensely. Many small “hits” of dopamine rewire the brain more than fewer, more intense ones.

Androgen receptors bind to testosterone and are critical for male development, sexuality and gene expression. Ejaculation downregulates brain androgen receptors density for at least 24 hours and upregulates estrogenic receptors in specific brain areas regardless of blood testosterone and estrogen levels (Fernandez-Guasti, et al., 2003; Phillips-Farfán, et al., 2007). Sexual abstinence increases testosterone. At one week of abstinence, serum testosterone rises to 145.7% of baseline levels (Jiang et al., 2016). Testosterone and androgen receptor function is associated with confidence and competitiveness in men (Eisenegger, 2016).

After orgasm, prolactin increases which decreases dopamine. Prolactin is a protein that enables pregnant women to produce milk. Hyperprolactinemia, excessive prolactin production, causes hypogonadism, infertility, erectile dysfunction, and gynecomastia (“manboobs”) in men. Prolactin opposes dopamine and is “substantially increased” post-orgasm, and with stress, trauma, dopamine antagonist drugs, hypothyroidism, and seizures. Vitamin B6, pyridoxine, increases dopamine and lowers prolactin.

Porn causes sexual dysfunction and makes intercourse boring (Park et al., 2016). Addiction to pornography negatively affects self-esteem, general mood, motivation, cognition, and energy, and causality has been established that porn lowers relationship quality and satisfaction, academic performance, sexual satisfaction, marital quality and stability, the self-esteem of female partners (Stewart and Szymanski, et al., 2012), and increases unrealistic, exaggerated expectations for real partners (Zillman and Bryant, 1988; Lambert, et al., 2012; Muusses, et al., 2015; Perry, 2017). 

Porn addictions typically start with vanilla material then progress to fetishes, then hardcore fetishes, because as dopamine is numbed there is a need for higher novelty and stimulation. As the addiction worsens, the sessions of use become longer, the content more extreme, and the alienation from life and relationships increases; many lose their partners and socially withdrawal.

These effects reverse with cessation but this may take a while, the general consensus being up to three months (Porto, 2016; Park, et al., 2016). Web sites and communities exist to document recoveries, especially recovery of proper sexual function.

I think that, given adequate scientific and empirical evidence of porn’s dangers, there is no reason not to try quitting and see what happens. It is one more step towards a satisfactory life.

 

Works Cited

Cervenka, S, et al. “Changes in Dopamine D2-Receptor Binding Are Associated to Symptom Reduction after Psychotherapy in Social Anxiety Disorder.” Translational Psychiatry, vol. 2, no. 5, 2012, doi:10.1038/tp.2012.40.

Eisenegger, Christoph, et al. “Testosterone and Androgen Receptor Gene Polymorphism Are Associated with Confidence and Competitiveness in Men.” Hormones and Behavior, vol. 92, 2017, pp. 93–102., doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2016.09.011.

Fernandez-Guasti, Alonso, and Gabriela Rodriguez-Manzo. “Pharmacological and Physiological Aspects of Sexual Exhaustion in Male Rats.” Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, vol. 44, no. 3, 2003, pp. 257–263., doi:10.1111/1467-9450.00343.

Fernandez-Guasti, Alonso, et al. “Sexual Behavior Reduces Hypothalamic Androgen Receptor Immunoreactivity.” Psychoneuroendocrinology, vol. 28, no. 4, 2003, pp. 501–512., doi:10.1016/s0306-4530(02)00036-7.

Jiang, Ming, et al. “A Research on the Relationship between Ejaculation and Serum Testosterone Level in Men.” Journal of Zhejiang University-SCIENCE A, vol. 4, no. 2, 2003, pp. 236–240., doi:10.1631/jzus.2003.0236.

Kühn, Simone, and Jürgen Gallinat. “Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption.” JAMA Psychiatry, vol. 71, no. 7, 2014, p. 827., doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.93.

Lambert, Nathaniel M., et al. “A Love That Doesn’t Last: Pornography Consumption and Weakened Commitment to One’s Romantic Partner.” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, vol. 31, no. 4, 2012, pp. 410–438., doi:10.1521/jscp.2012.31.4.410.

Muusses, Linda D., et al. “Internet Pornography and Relationship Quality: A Longitudinal Study of within and between Partner Effects of Adjustment, Sexual Satisfaction and Sexually Explicit Internet Material among Newly-Weds.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 45, 2015, pp. 77–84., doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.11.077.

Park, Brian, et al. “Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports.” Behavioral Sciences, vol. 6, no. 3, 2016, p. 17., doi:10.3390/bs6030017.

Perry, Samuel L., and Cyrus Schleifer. “Till Porn Do Us Part? A Longitudinal Examination of Pornography Use and Divorce.” The Journal of Sex Research, vol. 55, no. 3, 2017, pp. 284–296., doi:10.1080/00224499.2017.1317709.

Phillips-Farfán, B.v., et al. “Increased Estrogen Receptor Alpha Immunoreactivity in the Forebrain of Sexually Satiated Rats.” Hormones and Behavior, vol. 51, no. 3, 2007, pp. 328–334., doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2006.12.001.

Porto, R. “Habitudes Masturbatoires Et Dysfonctions Sexuelles Masculines.” Sexologies, vol. 25, no. 4, 2016, pp. 160–165., doi:10.1016/j.sexol.2016.03.004.

Stewart, Destin N., and Dawn M. Szymanski. “Young Adult Women’s Reports of Their Male Romantic Partner’s Pornography Use as a Correlate of Their Self-Esteem, Relationship Quality, and Sexual Satisfaction.” Sex Roles, vol. 67, no. 5-6, 2012, pp. 257–271., doi:10.1007/s11199-012-0164-0.

2 thoughts on “Porn Kills Dopamine, Motivation, Masculinity, and Love

  1. Not just a young person issue,trust me,its almost 2022 still no change ,tried multiple dopamine supplements,even levadopa off label

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.