How Porn Rewires Your Brain

“We become what we think about all day long.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When you watch porn your brain thinks you are having sex. Horniness is the evolutionary drive that pushes you to do whatever is necessary to have sex and make babies.
Your brain can’t comprehend the difference between watching a video and having real sex. Your brain’s mirror neurons visualize you doing the same thing, and a part of your brain responds as if you were. It’s kind of like how when watching a scary movie we cringe or jump out of our seats. Or a sad movie can make you cry and feel sad. The brain thinks something that you watch digitally is actually happening to you in real life, and it acts accordingly. If you’re watching multiple porn scenes (which is usually the case for most porn binges), your brain thinks you are having sex with multiple partners.
To sum it up, all this sex overstimulates your brain, which desensitizes it, causes problems in your sex life, and reduces your ability to enjoy life.
Let’s break this down.
Dopamine is a brain chemical that motivates you to do something that your brain thinks will make it feel good like having sex or eating food. Our brain makes us experience pleasure when we engage in these life-giving and enjoyable activities, which have kept humans alive for millions of years.
Your brain uses dopamine, a neurochemical, to train you to recognize activities that are good and bad. When you do actions that your brain says are good for survival, it rewards you with a shot of dopamine that triggers the sensation of pleasure and stimulates memory and concentration. It creates arousal and excitement just before you have sex, pushing you to complete what you started.
For instance, think of a Thanksgiving dinner where you starved yourself all day and finally your aunt said, “Okay it’s ready, everyone grab a plate!” And remember that sensation as you rushed to the kitchen to fill up your plate. You sat down and shoved endless amounts of food into your mouth without even chewing because you were so excited. That intense rush? Yes, that’s dopamine.
Or imagine when you saw a woman walking right by you, and she seemed to be the most beautiful woman you’d ever seen, and you got a rush of both excitement and nervousness. Yes, that’s dopamine too.
Or think about when you had a new business idea that you believed would change an industry, and you were the first one ever to think of it… yeah, that’s just dopamine.
Now that we understand what dopamine is and how it makes you feel, the question remains: How does it relate to porn?
The problem with porn is that it gives off a massive shot of dopamine to your brain. It’s too much dopamine for your brain to handle at once because you’re brain was never designed to handle unlimited amounts of porn of highly attractive women with enlarged breasts and perfect to hip-weight ratios. It’s simply unreal and too good for your brain too handle.
The dopamine rush as you’re watching porn encourages you to masturbate to produce even more dopamine. Simultaneously, you release even more happy chemicals in your brain like serotonin and dopamine, which ends in an orgasm.
Why would anyone not enjoy this?
It’s easy, it feels good, and it’s free… and that’s exactly the problem.
Sexual arousal is nature’s number one priority driven by dopamine. Your brain starts to crave more and more, causing you to watch more and more porn.
Sexual stimulation and orgasm give our brains’ reward systems the biggest natural shot of dopamine of all. This makes sense. That big dopamine shot from an orgasm then goes on to wire our brain’s reward system to encourage us to repeat whatever behavior we did to get sex so we can continue to get sex in the future.
But the problem is you’re not having sex at all, and your brain cannot differentiate the difference between porn and real sex remember. It thinks you’re winning in life when you’re watching porn, so it’s reacting as it should. Don’t blame your brain. Your brain thinks you’re mating with real women, so it encourages you to go do whatever you just did to get that stimulus again since it’s wired to do that.
Pay attention this is when it gets even more dangerous…
The Internet gives you an unlimited variety of sexual experiences. This variety means that when viewed, dopamine shoots to your brain, training you to search for more and more porn.
And what you once found arousing over time will no longer be arousing. You develop a level of tolerance to past experiences. So you search for different types of novel porn such as anal, gangbang, incest, teen, cartoon porn, and so on to give you that same level of dopamine rush you now need to ejaculate.
This tolerance can take years to develop, but it’s very easy to develop since the pleasure reward system of your brain loves watching porn, masturbating, and orgasms.
Neurons firing and wiring together are also how our habits are formed. When you receive a shot of dopamine after receiving some reward – whether food, sex, or novelty – your brain strengthens the neurons that fired and wired together to achieve the reward so that you will repeat the process and can get it again in the future. The rewiring involves connecting the cues and behavior that led to a pleasurable reward.
This cue behavior reward connection is what author Charles Duhigg calls The Habit Loop. Cues cause dopamine to release, such as sitting at a computer alone late at night. Or it means surfing Instagram or some other social media outlets where you see half-naked women. Or cues to watch porn come when you’re just feeling a little depressed, bored, distracted, or stressed.
Repeat this circuit for a few days or weeks and you’ve got a connection that leads to you checking out porn without even thinking about it – and worse, you can’t control it. It can become difficult to control because it’s now wired into your brain. Porn surfing simply becomes a habit.
Throughout most of your brain’s evolution, sex was a limited commodity, and it was a good survival strategy to look for sex whenever possible. Now that you have access to an infinite amount of sex online, this is no longer a good strategy.
Too much sexual stimulation has health risks of its own like reduced sensitivity to dopamine, which reduces the enjoyment of activities you once found pleasurable.
The only way for you to feel “good” again is to continue watching heavier and heavier scenes of porn such as gangbangs, abuse, incest, and double penetration, which sends you into a downward spiral of porn addiction.
Yes, porn rewires your brain.