5 Weird Things That Happen To Your Body When You Watch Porn

The last year was a great one for women and porn. We saw lots of strides in feminist porn sites but, on a more basic level, we just became a lot more open to (and realistic about) women's porn watching habits. Because women watch porn a lot. And we like a lot of different kinds of porn. Actually, women are way more into rough stuff than men, and a ton of straight women watch lesbian porn. And I think all of that's great— talking about it means that no one has to feel they're the only one that does it or that there's anything wrong with it. But while we've long wondered about how porn affects men's bodies, we haven't thought as much about how it affects women's. Unfortunately, there's very little research done on the subject, but by looking at how watching porn affects people generally, we can get a good idea.

I mean, obviously it's going to arouse you. That's the whole point (unless it just doesn't work for you, in which case watching porn is probably a very awkward experience of disjointed story lines). So I don't need to tell you what's going on to you on that front. But there's a whole lot of weird stuff that happens to your mind when you watch porn.

Here are some of the strange things that can go on upstairs:

1. Reward Centers Light Up

Bing bing bing! Like I said, a lot of what's crazy when you watch porn happens in the brain. And one of the crazy things is that it affects your brain in the same way some drugs do, partially due to the dopamine release. According to The Guardian a "Cambridge University neuropsychiatrist Dr. Valerie Voon has recently shown that men who describe themselves as addicted to porn (and who lost relationships because of it) develop changes in the same brain area – the reward centre – that changes in drug addicts." Yikes. I'm all about porn, but it may be good to keep an eye on your habits.

2. You Need More Intense Images

For most people, at least. Your brain gets used to what you're watching, and so you need to start watching more hardcore things to get the same reaction. GQ reported on a Reddit group called NoFap where "64 percent report that their tastes in porn have become more extreme or deviant". I'm not sure I like the term "deviant" because it has a moral judgment element I'm not comfortable with, but it does seem like that for more people, their habits change.

3. But You Also May Be Less Attracted To Your Partner

This is the bit the makes me nervous and could potentially affect your relationship. So obviously porn turns you on, and has all those effects on your body. But it has a strange effect on how your brain views your partner. According to Dr. Norman Doidge, it is quite common for patients who watched significant amounts of porn to report that, "far from getting more turned on by the idea of sex with his partner, he was less attracted to her". Apparently this is called the "Coolidge Effect, or a tendency toward novelty-seeking behavior", according to GQ.

4. It Messes Up Your Memory

Christian Laier University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany published an article in the Journal Of Sex Research which found that men had a more difficult time recalling and forming memories when viewing sexual imagery— and that the difficulty increased when they were more turned on. Laier said they found "sexual arousal interferes with working memory, an important facet of executive functioning", but that more research needs to be done on the subject.

5. Parts Of Your Brain Shrink

What? According to the Daily Mail, German researchers found that "the striatum area of the brain, linked with the motivation and reward response, shrank in size the more porn a person viewed."

Crazy, right? But none of this is mean to freak you out. What porn does is probably what you'd expect, and it's only in extreme cases that you should be concerned — just like you should be about an extreme dependency on anything. If you're not sure if your habits are normal or healthy for you, talk to your doctor. I love porn, but it's a good reminder to keep track of our habits and know when something is affecting our relationships and bodies.

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