Porn Feeds Sex Addiction, According to New Study (Thanks For Nothing Science)

sex addiction study results

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Despite what everyone has to say about it – including myself – sex addiction is a real thing. It’s not just some excuse you use when your wife catches you in bed with the nanny (sorry, Gavin Rossdale); it’s a legitimate sexual disorder that can seriously ruin your life. Or make it better, if you’re a really horny optimist.

But according to a new study, if you do suffer from the disorder, you shouldn’t be catching any late night porno (or any porno at all). Is this news? We don’t think so, but apparently it was a big enough question for some that researchers had to construct a whole study around it to find out for sure.

Led by Dr. Valerie Voon from Cambridge University, the study consisted of 62 men, 22 of which were diagnosed with sex addiction. According to Voon, “We can all relate in some way to searching for novel stimuli online – it could be flitting from one news website to another, or jumping from Facebook to Amazon to YouTube and on. For people who show compulsive sexual behavior, though, this becomes a pattern of behavior beyond their control, focused on pornographic images.”

She continued with, “It’s not clear what triggers sex addiction in the first place and it is likely that some people are more pre-disposed to the addiction than others, but the seemingly endless supply of novel sexual images available online helps feed their addiction, making it more and more difficult to escape.”

Participants were shown a series of images featuring naked and clothed women, all posing next to furniture. According to BT, “They were then shown another set of image pairs, some of which were familiar and some new, and asked to choose a picture “to win £1″. There was a 50/50 chance of picking the right image and winning the prize… Sex addicts – but not volunteers who were not addicted to sex – were more likely to choose novel over familiar sexual images, the researchers found.”

In a second study, participants underwent brain scans while being shown a series of images featuring women in the flesh, a coin, or a neutral grey box. This is where it got interesting.

When the sex addicts viewed the same sexual image over and over again, they experienced a greater reduction of activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region known to be involved in anticipating rewards.

This was consistent with the “habituation” that occurs when an addict finds the same stimulus less and less rewarding.

The finding suggests that to prevent this happening a sex addict would need to seek out a constant supply of new images, said the authors.

So the sex addict is trying to keep it up (literally) with a fresh bout of pornographic images… makes sense! Why is this groundbreaking?!

Thanks for nothing, science.

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Alexa LyonsCOED Writer
Writer and editor living in New York City who also loves Taking Back Sunday, bad reality TV, and Leonardo DiCaprio (not necessarily in that order).