How much pornography do adults consume, and how does it affect mental health?

How much pornography do adults consume, and how does it affect mental health?

by B.J. Lehecka, DPT, PhD | May 13, 2021

Average internet pornography consumption was 75 minutes per week by males (which equates to about 10 minutes/day or 65 hours/year) and 17 minutes per week by females (15 hours/year) in a study of 832 adults aged 18-72 in 2016, and average use has been on the rise in recent years. In a 2020 study, 92% of men and 60% of women reported pornography consumption in the past month. The average age of first exposure to internet pornography was found to be between ages 12 and 15 in a 2016 study.

Mental health factors are related to pornography viewing, as both predictors and outcomes. Pornography use has demonstrated a concerning and modest positive association with life dissatisfaction, relationship dissatisfaction, sexual dissatisfaction, loneliness, depression, anxiety, narcissism, and neuroticism. Notable findings include:

  • Increased frequency of male use of pornography was strongly associated with decreased marital quality 6 years later. Marriages that were most negatively affected involved men who viewed pornography at higher frequencies – once a day or more. This level of porn use was statistically extreme and suggestive of an addiction or otherwise compulsive behavior.
  • The more pornography a man watched, the more likely he was to deliberately conjure images of pornography during sex to maintain arousal, have concerns over his sexual performance and body image, and not enjoy sexually intimate behaviors with his partner.
  • Reductions in sexual satisfaction tend to initiate once pornography viewing reaches once per month. Further increases in pornography use are related to larger decrements in sexual satisfaction.
  • Faith, morals, and personal motivation are primary variables to help reduce pornography use.
  • The number of hours spent viewing pornography was positively associated with all measures of narcissism (i.e., selfishness, isolation, and entitlement). This may influence interpersonal relationships and overall health.

 

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