Porn Hurts Your Son More Than Your Daughter, Study Finds

Porn may have more measurable negative effects on men, but it's not that simple or bad.

Pornography may hinder men’s sexual relationships, while women are more likely to suffer if they view non-pornographic, sexually provocative media such as the swimsuit issue of a magazine, according to a new study. For parents dreading the day that their kids inevitably discover porn, the data illustrates how pornographic and sexual media could shape their future relationships along gendered lines. 

This isn’t the first study to examine how viewing sexual content influences relationship satisfaction, but it’s one of the first to look at the effect of porn separately from that of other sexual media. Porn “does seem to be more problematic for men,” study coauthor Nathan Leonhardt of Brigham Young University told Fatherly, commenting on the existing research. “But there could be several explanations for that.”

READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Porn

For the new study, Leonhardt and colleagues surveyed 858 adults in committed relationships about their consumption of porn and other provocative sexual content, such as a swimsuit issue of a magazine. Researchers then assessed each subject’s sexual satisfaction across six domains — time spent on foreplay, variety, overall satisfaction, frequency, love and affection, and time spent on intercourse. For men, higher porn use was strongly linked to lower satisfaction with sexual variety and time spent having sex. Women appeared unaffected. But women who regularly looked at non-pornographic, provocative media did report lower satisfaction with sexual variety, time spent having sex, and overall sexual satisfaction. 

The data is fairly straightforward. What’s less clear is what it means for moms and dads raising future porn and swimsuit magazine consumers. “There are some nuances based on whether its a son or daughter,” Leonhardt says. “Yet there are also a lot of overarching principles that apply to both.”

Leonhardt suspects that non-pornographic provocative images were more likely to harm women by making them feel more insecure about their appearances and objectified. That’s not to say porn is any less objectifying, but it does not appear to hit as close to home for women viewers. Then again, it’s also possible that porn’s negative effects on women are subtle, and were simply not detected by this study.

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Without further research, it’s difficult to say. But ultimately, Leonhardt stresses, the relationship issues in the study are really not about porn. Because if parents who take the time to educate their children and fill in the gaps between media and reality, he suspects many of these problems wouldn’t arise in the first place. “Having those conversations as a child grows up, not about porn but about everything, its going to help,” Leonhardt says.