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How much is too much porn, and why it may be harmful: A psychologist answers

Watching too much porn can lead to decreased sexual arousal, unrealistic expectations and even anxiety. But how much is too much porn?
Woman watching porn on her mobile phone
Porn may not be entirely unhealthy, but how much porn is too much after all? Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Nikita Bhardwaj Updated: 18 Mar 2024, 15:52 pm IST
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Medically Reviewed by

Just like it happens with food, overconsumption of porn can be harmful to health. Watching pornographic content has been a guilty pleasure for many, but sometimes overdoing it can have adverse effects. Yet, the growing demand and supply chain of porn content online is a testimony to the increasing appetite. Research conducted by Gitnux, an independent market research company in the US, states that 35 percent of downloads are pornographic content.

While you must be careful of the type of porn you watch, you should also know that too much porn can lead to conditions such as erectile dysfunction, diminished libido, and reduced sexual satisfaction.

Why do people watch porn?

A 2017 study published in the journal Sociology, looked into pornography consumption by young men in a US university. The study found out how it was an ordinary part of their lives and used porn to explore their sexual desires, emerging sexual identities and for developing new sexual techniques. For some, it may be to spice things up in the bedroom with their partner, and for some, it may be a way to spend their ‘me’ time productively! This has been deemed important in the course of approaching sex as not just a means of procreation but pleasure too.

However, if you are wondering how much porn is too much, how much porn is healthy or how often should you watch porn, it’s important to note that the more you watch it, the more you want to watch it. And that’s where the problem is – porn addiction.

How to people get addicted to porn?

For most people, exposure to porn can happen during their teenage years, in the absence of proper sex education. Watching aggressive and hardcore sex videos can leave a lasting impact on young minds, sometimes shaping their idea of sex and intimacy. If surveys and studies by leading pornographic websites are any measure, the number of people, including women (yes, we do watch porn!), consuming this content is growing year on year.

In a lot of societies, the question about watching porn or not is a moral issue. But for those who watch it anyway, let us tell you that controlling how often you watch porn and how much porn you watch, can be important for your mental and physical health.

How much is too much porn?

There is no quantifiable data that is considered a healthy number of hours of porn watching. It may vary from person to person. A above-mentioned study, published in Sociology, states that watching a bit of porn may not be so bad for health after all. In fact, it might help you destress. Wondering how often should you watch porn? According to experts, watching four hours of porn, carefully divided over a week, is within permissible limits. So that’s how much porn is healthy and can be viewed. 

Is watching porn healthy?

Watching porn may not be entirely unhealthy, but watching it excessively and obsessively can be harmful. Clinical psychologist Dr Bhavna Barmi says people should focus on a healthy and constructive schedule for sexual activities – one that is befitting of a positive lifestyle.

Watching porn can spice up the things between you and your partner. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Watching too much porn or watching porn too frequently can actually be bad for your mental health and relationships. Let us look at some reasons why watching too much porn can have side effects.

Side effects of watching too much porn

A variety of international studies note that early exposure to pornography and long-term consumption of porn can be problematic. It may lead to the following situations:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Decreased libido and difficulty in natural sexual arousal
  • Greater interest in porn than sexual contacts with real partners
  • Reduced sexual and relationship satisfaction
  • Increase in false expectations
  • Can lead to problematic behaviour, including violence and aggression
  • May instill a sense of sexual inadequacy in either partner

According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, watching too much porn and frequently masturbating to it can lead to sexual dysfunction in both men and women. Another study in the International Journal of Health Sciences highlights that watching too much porn can lead to behavioural changes. 

health benefits of masturbation
Boo those masturbation myths because good news is that it’s actually great for your health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

How to watch porn in a healthy way?

Watching porn is a normal part of growing up and even adulthood. Sometimes, it is like our personal getaway into a fantasy world. But as studies suggest, we must try not to get so lost there that we forget what sex should be like and feel like in the real world.

Psychologist and relationship expert Dr Bhavna Barmi suggests 5 tips to keep in mind before watching porn becomes too much and unhealthy.

1. Don’t overdo porn watching

People who watch more porn may have less successful sexual reactions with their real-life partners. You may also try and imitate those onscreen acts, and not everyone may like it.

2. Avoid dependency

Depending on anything – a drug, alcohol, smoking, person or porn – is injurious to health. Emotional or physical dependency cannot be helpful at all for any aspect of your well-being. So, avoid turning to porn all the time whenever you find some free time. Instead, try to find hobbies or other interest areas to consciously divert your mind.

menopause
Talk to your partner. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Have open communication with your partner

Indulging in open communication with your partner is one of the most foundations of a healthy relationship. To be able to share your sexual desires and preferences is a good sign. You could even watch some porn together to spice things up in between the sheets!

4. Don’t feel guilty about watching a little porn

Watching porn privately is not a crime as per law. It may give you a sense of pleasure to watch and fantasize about sexual scenarios you would never want to engage in real life. It is okay sometimes. But don’t make a habit out of it, and do not circulate porn.

5. Invest in your relationship

Watching too much porn can desensitise you as a person. But here’s a reality check: intimacy is not all about getting physically intimate with your partner. It is also about building emotional intimacy. Work on building that and you may find yourself steering away from your porn dependency.

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About the Author

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content. ...Read More

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