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Could you have a problem with porn?

There are things you can do if you have concerns about your porn use


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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A lot of people watch pornography, and with so many websites that can be reached on your phone, laptop or tablet, porn has never been more accessible than it is now. There is nothing wrong with watching porn, whether it’s out of curiosity or because you enjoy it. However, if you are beginning to feel like your habits around watching porn are starting to negatively affect other parts of your life, then you may be developing a problem.

How do you know if you have a problem with porn?

There is still a lot of disagreement in the mental health community as to whether or not “sexual addiction”, or pornography addiction, should be officially classed as an addiction. "Sexual addiction" is a popular term, but at the moment is is not considered a formal diagnosis.

Instead many people look at this issue as a problematic use of porn - when a person’s habits around how and when they watch porn becomes problematic. In some cases, problematic use of porn could be combined with another underlying mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression. This is why it’s important to seek professional help if you think you may have a problem with porn. Find information on getting help at the end of this article.

Signs you could have a problem with porn

Watching porn a lot is not necessarily a sign of having a problem. It’s when it begins to negatively affect other areas of your life that it could signal a problem.

If you’re unsure whether or not you have a problem when it comes to porn, there are a few things you can look out for:

  • Wanting to watch porn all the time and experiencing cravings
  • Spending more and more time watching porn, maybe even spending hours on porn sites
  • Feeling like you can’t stop yourself from watching porn no matter how hard you try
  • Watching porn has had a negative impact on other areas of your life, such as relationships or work
  • You need to watch more extreme porn in order to get the same enjoyment out of it
  • Feeling guilty about your porn habits and going to great lengths to keep it a secret from others
  • Looking at porn at inappropriate times or places, including in work, college or school
  • Feeling like you can’t enjoy sex without porn
  • Missing out on social occasions or avoiding responsibilities so that you can watch porn instead
  • Feeling anxious or irritable when you can’t watch porn

How to manage your porn use

Finding ways to cut down or stop watching porn may seem difficult at first, if you keep trying you will find what works best for you. If you need support, you can look into getting professional help.

If the idea of giving up porn all at once is too overwhelming, take a gradual approach. Break it down into smaller habits and work on these one at a time.

Delete your accounts

If you have accounts on any porn apps or websites, log in and delete them. You may find it difficult to resist watching porn while you access the sites to get into your settings - try to stay focused on the task at hand, and leave the app or website as soon as your account has been deleted.

If you have any bookmarks or shortcuts to get to these sites, delete these too.

Install a porn blocker

Installing porn blocking software on your browser is a great way to prevent yourself from viewing porn. Whenever you try to reach a porn website, your browser will block the page, and this gives you an opportunity to step back and find something else to do to take your mind of the compulsion to watch porn.

Ask someone you trust to install it for you and not to tell you the password. If you don’t want to involve another person, try using a password generator to create a password that won’t be easy for you to remember.

Throw out or delete any porn you have

If you have any hard-copy porn, like magazines, throw it all away. If you have any videos or pictures downloaded onto your phone, tablet, laptop, or on any hard drives or USBs, delete them, and then clear your trash to make sure they are gone permanently. Removing easy access to porn will help you to control your urges whenever you want to look at it.

Avoid triggers

Pay attention whenever the urge to watch porn comes up and see if there’s anything that triggers that urge. If you’re aware of certain situations that make you want to watch porn, try to avoid these and work on ways to distract yourself.


Often the urge to watch porn is triggered by certain emotions, such as feeling sad, upset, lonely, tired, angry, or frustrated. Pay attention to these emotions, and try to find other ways to deal with them instead of turning to porn. Practising mindfulness can be a good way to connect to your body and emotions and raise awareness about what is going on for you.

On-phone

Find alternative things to do

If you were spending a lot of time watching porn, then you will need to find other things to do so that you can keep yourself distracted from urges to watch porn. This could include exercising, meeting friends, taking up a hobby like cooking or baking, or learning something new.

Avoid falling into other addictive behaviours like drinking, taking drugs, or gambling as ways to distract yourself, because these things can also have negative consequences on your life.

Talk to someone

Talk to someone you trust about what’s going on, and ask for their understanding and support while you try to manage your compulsion to watch porn. It may be embarrassing or difficult to have this conversation, but it can also be really helpful to have someone who knows what’s going on and who can listen when you’re struggling.

If you don’t want to talk to anyone you know, you can look for professional help.

If you have tried the above steps but still struggle to manage your use of pornography, then you need to get support.

Finding professional help

There are many professionals out there who can help you with your problems with porn, including therapists and support groups.

Counselling

Going to counselling can be a good way of looking at your behaviour and finding ways to manage it. You can choose to see any counsellor about this, but if you’re nervous about discussing porn with someone, you could look into seeing a sex therapist. A sex therapist will have the same qualifications as another counsellor, but they specialise in issues of sexual desire, intimacy, and problems with sex. They can help with problematic use of porn as well as any other issues you might be experiencing in your sex life.

Many counselling centres have sex therapists available, and you can also search for sex therapists in your area online or on the IACP website.

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Published June 20th2019
Last updated Octo­ber 19th2019
Tags porn pornography addiction APcontent
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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