Boyz Doc

Dr Laura Waters from Mortimer Market Centre on ‘I’m addicted to watching gay porn’

Dear Dr Laura,

I think I’m addicted to gay porn and it’s really affecting my life. I’m 22 and I lived a pretty sheltered life till I came out as gay last year. Now I can’t stop looking at gay porn tube sites. I wank maybe four or five times a day and spend at least two hours a day looking at porn including at work on my phone in the toilets. I’ve had lots of sex in saunas and gone round to guy’s houses from Grindr but I’ve never had a boyfriend. I know this a big problem and no-one is going to want to have a relationship with a porn addict. Can you help me please? Thanks.

James

Dear James,

Firstly, porn is a very normal part of many people’s sex lives and there’s no clear definition of what’s ‘abnormal’ or ‘normal’ in terms of how much you watch. It’s especially common for young men to access porn online; in one study only 5% of male college students never used porn to masturbate.

The internet, and easy access to it on mobile devices, has made pornography cheap, accessible and led to huge increases in use. Here are some facts:

1 in 4 of all internet searches are for porn

Pornhub, the world’s biggest porn website, had 33.5 billion visits last year; by their own calculations this is the equivalent to the combined populations of Canada, Poland and Australia visiting the site every day, and the UK is the second biggest consumer after the US. Basically that’s a lot of people watching a lot of porn.

Similarly, wanking is very common. Some types of pornography are illegal including anything that shows life-threatening acts or anything that is likely to result in serious trauma to the genitals or anus. On that subject you may have read about the government’s controversial plans to implement a ‘porn block’ from July 2019? Essentially instead of being asked to tick a box stating you are over 18 you may need to prove it with ID, via a secondary website that collects your bank details or by buying daily ‘porn passes’; the rollout date has already been postponed twice and with concerns about data protection it will be interesting so see what happens on July 15th when this is due to start.

Back to you! Up to 1 in 10 people in some surveys are concerned about excessive porn use or masturbation – data is limited. Sexual behaviours are considered problematic IF:

  • You have impaired control (craving porn or not managing to cut down on porn when you want to)
  • You narrow your interests or neglect other parts of your life
  • You continue when it’s causing psychological damage

You came out only recently and it’s not surprising you’re experimenting with porn – you may find the novelty wears off after a while.

However, your concern about how much you watch and the fact you’re masturbating when you should be working are warning signs. There’s actually a name for when you’ve lost control of your compulsion to watch porn, even if it’s not causing problems in relationships or work: Problematic Online Pornography Use or POPU.

Whether pornography is addictive is debated but some studies suggest it can be in the same way some people get addicted to drugs. POPU can lead to anxiety, depression and dissatisfaction, yet people will continue to watch porn despite this. People who watch porn every day are more likely to have psychological or social problems as a result.

Although evidence is lacking, people can recover from the negative effects of porn by cutting down their use, or stopping altogether. There’s some evidence that psychological therapies can help so if you’re worried speak to your GP or your local sexual health service for some advice, including how to get a referral to a psychologist.

Finally, studies show that single people watch more porn – you may find, if you find a boyfriend, your desire to watch porn diminishes. And if your new boyfriend likes porn you can watch it, and enjoy it, together!

The Boyz Doc is Dr Laura Waters, an HIV and sexual health consultant at the Mortimer Market Centre in central London. Dr Laura answers your questions every week in Boyz. If you have a question for Dr Laura please email her at boyzdoc@boyz.co.uk

 

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