The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

With the rise of the internet and the advances made in technology, pornography is easier to access than ever before. Most people who consume pornography do so online, but it’s likely many of these individuals don’t know the effects this habit could have in their life. There are both positive and negative effects associated with pornography use, but it’s nearly impossible to say which effects will be experienced by who. In many cases, that is the risk the consumer takes. To gain additional information about pornography use, keep reading and then visit

Benefits Associated with Pornography

When there aren’t any negative behaviors or red flags associated with its use, pornography can have some benefits. These might include:

  • Giving you and your partner ideas to spice up your sex life
  • Increasing your appreciation for your partner
  • Helping you or a partner become more comfortable with a certain fantasy one of you might have
  • Reducing stress
  • Encouraging self-pleasure
  • Decreasing judgment associated with sexual desires
  • Allowing you to recognize what things do or don’t turn you on
  • Increasing overall sexual satisfaction
  • Improving communication among sexual partners
  • Enhancing comfort with sex
  • Helping you to discover your sexuality
  • Less stigmas that are commonly associated with sex
  • It can help foster sexual and emotional intimacy
  • It’s entertaining
  • It helps you relax and unwind
  • It normalizes your sexual desires
  • It increases your knowledge of sexuality and sex in general
  • It’s a form of safe sex; there’s no risk of pregnancy, STDs, or judgment involved

Downsides Associated with Pornography

Of course, pornography use can also have its downsides. You might experience the following as a result of your consumption:

  • Internal guilt or shame
  • May increase risk taking in sexual relationships
  • Distance in a relationship created by secrecy
  • Possible addiction if the behavior becomes compulsive
  • Comparison: comparing your or your partner’s body to that of a porn star
  • May create a need for more intense sexual stimulation
  • Decreased libido or erectile dysfunction
  • Increased aggression or violence
  • Negative body image
  • May nurture unrealistic expectations for sex
  • Sexual desensitization
  • Increases insecurity
  • Abuse or exploitation of porn actors
  • More misogyny

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in any form, reach out right away to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) for immediate support, advice, and assistance.

Pornography Addiction

Are you worried you might have an addiction to pornography? If so, know that you’re not alone and help is available. Here are some potential signs you might have an addiction:

  • You can’t stop looking at it even if you want to
  • You avoid outings to consume it
  • Your sex life is becoming unfulfilling
  • Even when you don’t enjoy watching it, you can’t stop
  • You’re watching it in inappropriate places like your school or place of work
  • It’s damaging your relationships
  • You’re setting aside time for it
  • You’re neglecting your other responsibilities in life
  • You’re going into debt from purchasing pornography
  • You can’t focus at school or work because you’re thinking about pornography
  • You have guilt, shame, or low self-esteem
  • You’re experiencing more anxiety or depression
  • You’re having more trouble with substance use
  • You’ve lost your job because of your consumption at your place of work

The internet has made it easier than ever to have access to pornography. This can increase the risk of addiction. If you feel you have a problem, reach out for help right away. The longer you wait, the harder it can be to curb the behavior. You might feel ashamed or embarrassed, but rest assured you are not alone in your behavior and there are many others out there going through the same exact thing. Therapists are trained in therapies like CBT that can help you so that you can get on a healthier path.

Alternatives to Pornography

If you’d like to decrease the amount of pornography you’re watching or stop altogether, here are some alternatives:

  • Exchanging erotic texts or calls with a partner
  • Reading erotica, which uses words instead of visual images or videos
  • Playing out fantasies with your partner
  • Self-pleasure using your imagination

In addition, you can also try the following non-sexual activities:

  • Watching a movie
  • Browsing social media
  • Listening to music
  • Taking a bath
  • Reading a book
  • Watching funny videos online
  • Lifting weights or exercising in general
  • Doing a sport like archery, tennis, or golf

Reaching Out for Help

If you are having concerns about your use of pornography, it’s vital to reach out to a mental health professional. Whether you’re concerned with how much time you’re spending consuming online material or have other questions, an expert may be able to help you.


For some people, pornography will lead to destruction and negativity in their lives. For others, it will increase sexual satisfaction and give them other unique benefits. Essentially, it could be a good, bad, or even neutral behavior depending on the person; however, you usually won’t know until you try. This can be risky, and many decide to never consume it at all just in case it has a negative effect on them. Always speak with your partner about pornography use and be up front about it; this can prevent many issues from ever occurring in the first place. Moving forward, you should be aware of the risks but also know that it can have benefits too. You just have to decide what you (and a potential partner) are comfortable with.