Do Women Suffer From Porn Addiction?

Feb 23, 2024

Most people associate porn addiction with men. However, there’s been a growing number of women who suffer from porn addiction. Whether you’re a man or woman, it’s natural to have a curiosity for porn.

It develops into an addiction when it becomes a routine that’s hard to quit. Porn addiction doesn’t have obvious signs like other behavioral addictions. 

It can be hard to tell if someone suffers from a porn addiction since it’s easy to hide. Addicts spend several hours on adult websites. Porn becomes a serious problem when it interferes with their life. 

​​Social Biases Towards Women vs. Men

Both men and women can be addicted to porn. Yet, there’s still a double standard. It’s more socially acceptable for men to look at porn. They’re more expected to be sexual while women are expected to be demure.

Another sign of this social bias is the lack of research on women who are addicted to pornography. The stigmas and social biases make women feel more guilty and alone in their addiction. It’s still taboo to discuss a woman’s porn use.

Thankfully, there’s a curiosity about the link between porn addiction and sexual exploitation. Women become dependent on porn when they’re exposed to it at a younger age. Most women use pornography to enjoy sex with their partners. But over time, they can find themselves consuming it more frequently and more intensely. 

Pornography Impacts Women in Different Ways than Men

Studies show that pornography negatively impacts women differently from men. Women who watch porn are more likely to have body image issues and unrealistic expectations about sex. They might feel more pressured to perform pornographic acts. 

Women are also more likely to accept domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, and marital rape.

The negative effects of porn combined with the stigmas increase feelings of guilt and shame. 

Guilt and shame are a result of this addiction. Women might struggle to admit they need help. This causes them to hide their addiction from their friends, family, or partners. 

Most people use guilt and shame interchangeably. It’s normal to experience both guilt and shame. But, it’s how you process these emotions and healthily cope with them. 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), guilt is the pain you feel after doing something wrong. Guilt is often associated with feelings of anxiety or depression. Shame is the fear of your addiction being exposed to judgment or ridicule from others. It causes you to hide your addiction, which can affect your mental health and interpersonal relationships. 

Pornography Addiction Help for Women

Compulsive porn addiction isn’t a disorder, but there are therapy and treatment options available. The most common types are medication and therapy. A mental health professional may prescribe one or both of these treatment options. 

Naltrexone is a medication that’s used to treat alcoholism and opioid addiction. The active ingredient can also stop the cravings for pornography and the satisfaction that comes from viewing it. It should be used in conjunction with talk therapy. 

This type of therapy alleviates the compulsion and guilt associated with porn addiction. It also addresses emotional and intimacy issues caused by the habit. The most common forms are couples counseling, family therapy, and individual counseling. 

It's not just a guy thing

Despite the stigmas associated with porn addiction, it’s common among both men and women. Porn addiction is an intimacy disorder that’s just as harmful to women. The effects are more devastating because women fear being seen as promiscuous and uninhibited.

This fear causes them to isolate and hide their addiction more. But when they avoid looking at porn, they may feel anxious, depressed, frustrated, and irritable. These feelings cause them to seek more graphic or violent forms of pornography to cope. 

Watching pornography can affect your mental health

Porn addiction hasn’t been officially recognized as a mental health condition. It’s similar to other behavioral addictions in that it changes the brain’s reward system, causes intimacy problems, and lowers one’s self-esteem. The addict continues to seek porn to achieve that feeling each time. The addiction can interfere with their work life, interpersonal relationships, and financial situation.  

Pornography addictions lead to less satisfaction in marriage and dating

Heavy use of pornography can also be harmful to romantic relationships. Research in the Journal of Sex Research found that pornography use by both men and women hurt relationships, including instability. The study collected information from 3,500 people in committed relationships. 

These couples found that pornography watching caused them to not see eye-to-eye with their moral beliefs. Relationship stability is increased by porn addiction in both men and women. Some scholars argue there are too many factors that suggest porn addiction harms relationships. More evidence is needed to suggest that pornography use is a risk factor for relationships. 

Unhealed family wounds can lead to sexual addiction

Sex and porn addicts experience feelings of abandonment, anger, shame, and loneliness. They seek attention, intimacy, and love. The behavior that coincides with love, porn, and sex addiction is a substitute for emotional intimacy and romantic love. 

These feelings are derived from unhealed family wounds developed during childhood, according to the Center for the Study of Human Behavior. For both men and women, this could most likely be caused by the father wound, which is the absence of a father figure. 

The absence of a loving and supportive parental role can cause behavioral addictions such as porn and sex addiction. They use their addiction to fill the hole in their hearts, which leads to crippling isolation and shame. Over time, they develop a skewed view of money, power, and sex. 

What do women consider “porn”?

There’s a difference from what women consider porn compared to men. It doesn’t involve adult videos or webcam sites. Some women admit to using erotica (i.e. literature or visual art) and audio porn as their form of porn.

A Cosmopolitan survey revealed how men and women use pornography differently. About 21% of women prefer to watch same-sex porn, compared to 2% of men. Meanwhile, men prefer to look at porn that includes young or youthful-looking women. The results were based on a survey of 4,000 men and 4,000 women. 

How many women watch porn?

Men are four more times likely to watch pornography compared to women. Those in their 30s and 40s are reported to have more frequent pornography use. Back in 2019, women were 154% more likely to search for lesbian porn. 

In addition, 86% of women are interested in BDSM content compared to men. The number of women consumers has increased over the years. Although the discussion about porn has gotten less taboo, most women tend to hide their habit.  

The Deeper Reason Women Get Addicted to Porn

Porn does more than just create pleasure. There’s an underlying meaning as to why people watch porn and become addicted to it. It could be an escape from stress or a shaky relationship. However, we’ll fully never grasp the underlying reason behind it.

There are also differences in how men and women enjoy porn. Men are more into visual stimuli whereas women are into touching and speaking, which is why they like porn that has a plot. It also explains the phenomenon behind movies like 50 Shades of Grey.

What Is the Root Cause of Porn Addiction?

Dr. Gregory Popcak shared the root cause behind porn addiction with Covenant Eyes. He noticed that problematic use and addiction are related to attachment wounds. Those with an insecure attachment have difficulty with building and maintaining intimate relationships. 

Your natural wiring for happy and healthy relationships is broken. You may notice that you’re drawn to intimacy, but you’re scared off by it. The deeper your wounds, the more intense your reward-based needs are.

Porn is where you can experience intimacy without a relationship. It’s similar to the thrill that people get from casual hookups and affairs. 

Does Trauma Cause Porn Addiction?

Traumatic experiences from your past can cause porn addiction. Research shows that most kids are exposed to porn around 9 or 10 years old. As previously mentioned, trauma can take place in other forms, such as rape, sexual assault, abuse, or an absent parent. 

Jay Stringer conducted an experience between an individual’s porn use and past trauma. Those who scored higher than 24% on the survey had a history of sexual abuse, according to non-porn users. Trauma makes someone more vulnerable to pornography use. 

Moving Past Porn Addiction and Trauma 

There is a complex relationship with trauma, whether you or someone you know is struggling with pornography. To heal from trauma, you need to uncover the underlying factor and how this addiction impacted your life. You don’t have to do this on your own. Worried about your porn addiction? Take an assessment on Birches Health to learn the next steps. 

Resources

Men, Women, and Understanding Pornography

APA Dictionary of Psychology: Guilt

APA Dictionary of Psychology: Shame

Internet addiction treated with Naltrexone

Context Matters: Moderating Affects in the Associations between Pornography Use, Perceived Addiction, and Relationship Well-being

The Psychological Perspective of Sexual Addiction

Healing from Father Wounds Which Caused Sexual Addiction

How Many Women Watch Porn?

Women watch porn, too -- but why? 

Dr. Gregory Popcak: The Root Cause Of Pornography Addiction

Porn and Trauma: Unraveling the Connection

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