Why Do Men Watch Porn? Data on Male Porn Viewing [2022]

In this article, we’ve gathered every statistic related to why men watch porn, how frequently they watch it, its effects on men’s psychology, and more. Read on:

why do men watch porn

Pornography has become a ubiquitous part of life in the modern world, with thousands of videos being uploaded every day, all just a click away. As a result, many men watch porn multiple times per week and are exposed to porn at an early age – often at 13 years old or younger.

Top Men Watching Porn Statistics You Should Know:

  • Over 90% of adolescent boys watch porn in the western world.
  • Increased internet access has increased the number of adolescent and adult men who view online pornography.
  • 60% of men who watched pornography in the past 24 hours say they have felt lonely or isolated at least once in the past week.
  • Men who watch pornography regularly are also more likely to report they frequently feel insecure.
  • Most men are, on average, 13.37 years old when they are first exposed to porn. 
  • Men are four times more likely than women to watch porn (44% vs. 11%).
  • Between 86% and 96% of men regularly consume porn.
  • Up to 10% of men struggle with a sexual compulsion or addiction.

Men and Pornography

Statistics have shown that men have consumed significantly more porn in the last few decades:

  • Since the 1990s, there has been a significant increase in the number of men who watch porn.
    • The internet is the main cause of this increase. 
    • Over 90% of adolescent boys watch porn in the western world.
      • Some watch it out of curiosity, some because they come across it inadvertently, but many watch it at least once a week to masturbate.
      • (Cambridge University Press, 2017)1
  • Today’s men and boys have almost instant access to countless forms of pornography in many formats.
    • (Southern Equip, n.d.)2
  • Increased internet access has increased the number of adolescent and adult men who view online pornography.
    • (Wiley Clinical Healthcare Hub, 2021a)3
  • Men tend to be more susceptible to developing an addiction to pornography.
    • This form of sexuality is generally a solo activity, not usually including other people or partners.
      • (Iris Publishers, 2019)4

How Men Feel About Pornography

While many men watch porn to get off – it doesn’t necessarily make them feel better. Here’s what the stats say about how men feel when they watch porn:

  • Men who report having watched porn recently (in the past 24 hours) report the highest rates of loneliness.
    • 60% of men who watched pornography in the past 24 hours say they have felt lonely or isolated at least once in the past week.
      • Compared to 38% of men who have never watched pornography and 49% who have watched it but not in the past 24 hours said they have felt lonely in the past week.
    • 78% of men who have watched pornography in the past 24 hours say they have felt unhappy about their appearance in the past week.
      • Compared to 44% of men who have never watched pornography and 58% of those who had not watched it recently said they have felt unhappy with how they look in the past week.
      • (Institute for Family Studies, 2022)5
  • Men who watch pornography regularly are also more likely to report they frequently feel insecure.
    • 74% of men who report having watched pornography in the past 24 hours say they have felt self-conscious or insecure in the past week.
      • Only 45% of men who say they have never watched pornography said the same.
      • (Institute for Family Studies, 2022)5
  • Pornography may also contribute to men feeling less satisfied with their sex lives.
    • Only 26% of men said they are completely or very satisfied with their sex lives, of men who had watched pornography in the past day.
      • Compared to 41% of those who say they have never watched pornography.
    • (Institute for Family Studies, 2022)5

At What Age Do Men Get Exposed to Pornography?

With easy access to the internet, men get exposed to porn early – often times as young as 13 years old. Here are the stats:

  • Most men are, on average, 13.37 years old when they are first exposed to porn.  The youngest age was as early as 5 and the latest older than 26 years old.
    • 43.5% said their first exposure was accidental.
    • 33.4% said it was intentional.
    • 17.2% said it was forced.
    • 6% did not indicate the nature of the exposure.
      • (American Psychological Association, 2017)6
  • In another study, the average age of first porn use was 13.
    • Most became regular porn users by 16 or 17.
    • (Psychology Today, 2018)7
  • 9 out of 10 American men in their late teens and early 20s view porn and see it as a socially acceptable activity.
    • (Cambridge University Press, 2017)1
  • The first age people start viewing porn on the internet was between 11 and 13 years, according to another study.
    • (The Indian Express, 2012)8
  • Another study conducted by the Institute for Family Studies found that:
    • Men are four times more likely than women to watch porn (44% vs. 11%).
    • Men in their 30s and 40s report the most frequent use of pornography.
      • 18 to 29 years
        • In the past month: 44%
        • In the past year: 12%
        • More than a year ago: 18%
        • Never: 25%
      • 30 to 49 years
        • In the past month: 57%
        • In the past year: 12%
        • More than a year ago: 16%
        • Never: 12%
      • 50 to 64 years
        • In the past month: 44%
        • In the past year: 18%
        • More than a year ago: 19%
        • Never: 18%
      • 65 and older
        • In the past month: 26%
        • In the past year: 16%
        • More than a year ago: 25%
        • Never: 31%
      • (Institute for Family Studies, 2022)5

How Often Do Men Consume Porn?

Most men watch porn frequently, with many admitting to watching porn more than 3 times per week. These stats show that porn use among men is common and growing:

  • A survey commissioned for the BBC Three series found that:
    • 77% of men admitted to viewing X-rated content in the last month.
    • 55% of men said porn had been their main source of sex education.
    • 15% of male respondents thought they watched too much porn.
      • 31% said they had been addicted to it.
      • (Wiley Clinical Healthcare Hub, 2021b)9
  • 98% of men have watched porn at least once, according to a Danish study.
    • When male respondents are asked how often they watch porn:
      • 39% said 3+ times per week.
      • 29% said 1-2 times per week.
      • 17% said 1-2 times per month.
      • 15% said less than once per month. 
        • (Fatherly, 2018)10
  • French male respondents were asked, “Do you have the habit of visiting pornographic websites?”:
    • 6% said, “Yes, quite regularly.”
    • 9% said, “Yes, quite often.”
    • 29% said, “Yes, sometimes.”
    • 26% said, “Yes, very rarely.”
    • 22% said, “No, never.”
    • 8% said, “I don’t know/rather not say.”
      • (Statista, 2019)11
  • A team of Australian and Danish psychologists found that:
    • 97% viewed pornography at some time in their lives.
    • 94% viewed pornography in the last six months.
    • 82% said they were regular viewers of pornography.
      • (Psychology Today, 2018)7

Why Do Men Watch Porn?

If porn use is so common for most men, why do they watch it? Here’s what studies have shown:

  • “The simplest explanation for why men view pornography (or solicit prostitutes) is that they are driven to seek out sexual intimacy.according to William M. Struthers of Wheaton College.
    • Men may be tempted to seek “a shortcut to sexual pleasure via pornography” and now find this shortcut easily accessed.
    • (Southern Equip, n.d.)2
  • Reasons that advocates give for watching porn:
    • Variety: Porn channels provide a way to view many diverse types of sexual activity.
    • Fantasy: Pornography allows men to explore their fantasies in a private, non-threatening way.
    • Immediate Gratification: Watching pornography can offer a way to gratify desires without engaging with a partner.
      • A real-life partner may not approve of the man’s sexual fantasies, or he may be embarrassed by his fantasies or desires.
    • Rejection Proof: Erotic partner(s) don’t avoid sex in porn, are never too tired to perform and are always eager to participate. They generally appear to enjoy whatever sexual act in which they are engaged.
    • Accessibility: Even if his lover enjoys sex and is a willing partner, there are times when, even if he is ready to engage, they may not be willing or available.
    • Heightened arousal: The visual stimulation makes masturbation and climax more quickly achieved.
      • Dopamine, the neurotransmitter most associated with arousal, is activated or spikes when watching porn. This increased level of Dopamine activity is often correlated with addiction.
      • (Dr. Stan Hyman, 2022)12

What Drives Men to Watch Porn?

Many men seem to think porn is a simpler, faster, or easier way to achieve sexual pleasure than seeking out a partner:

  • Women in porn seem happier and easier to please than real-life women:
    • Reality rarely beats fantasy. Women are complex and tend to come with a wide range of feelings.
    • Until men discover how to please and enjoy sex with real women, the fantasy of women in porn may seem like a better option.
  • In porn, sex is more reliable and easier to navigate than real-life sex:
    • For many men, sex is less reliable or accessible than the on-demand nature of porn, and sex can be less consistently satisfying than porn.
    • Men can also easily achieve an erection without lubrication, and masturbating without lubrication doesn’t hurt a man the way a vulva and vagina without lubrication might hurt a woman.
    • This can add up to a man preferring the quick-fix fantasy of porn over the slower, more nuanced, and intricate process of having sex with another person.
  • Online porn requires less emotional investment:
    • For many men, an intimate relationship may be better in fantasy than reality.
    • Online porn requires very little, if any, emotional investment. A man can satisfy themselves within minutes, even seconds, without any emotional entanglement from anyone.
  • Sexuality and Love are often disconnected in men:
    • Many men learn to enjoy sex more with a partner they feel love towards. 
    • Men also tend to feel more connected during sex because our bodies release oxytocin (the “bonding hormone”) through physical contact.
  • Porn is most men’s sex educator:
    • Porn is saturated with out-of-context encounters, body-desensitizing techniques, and self-focused aspirational sex that often ignores a partner’s experience.
    • Learning from porn generally doesn’t create mutually satisfying and connected sexual interactions with a partner.
    • (Bryan Reeves, 2020)13

Do Men Watch Too Much Porn?

Porn consumption is far more common among men than women and can lead to many thinking that they watch far too much porn. Studies have found that:

  • Between 86%-96% of men regularly consume porn.
    • (Very Well Mind, 2022)14
  • Up to 10% of men struggle with a sexual compulsion or addiction:
    • This can manifest as a fixation with Internet pornography, exhibitionism, promiscuity, obsessive masturbation, use of adult establishments, or pay-for-sex encounters.
    • (Men’s Resource Center, n.d.)15
  • Men are 543% more likely to look at porn than women.
    • (HuffPost, 2014)16
  • Two-thirds (64%) of U.S. men view pornography at least monthly, according to a survey conducted by Barna Group.
    • One-third (33%) of men between the ages of 18 and 30 said they are addicted or are unsure if they are addicted to pornography.
    • 18% of all men either think they are addicted or are unsure if they are addicted to pornography. This equates to approximately 21 million men in the U.S.
      • (HuffPost, 2014)16
  • The arguments for watching porn:
    • Sexual Needs Are Met: Pornography can help meet the viewer’s sexual needs when they desire sex more frequently than their partner.
    • Improved Sexual Communication: Watching porn with a partner can open a dialogue about improving their sex life.
    • Masturbating to porn can help relieve stress.
    • Choice: Porn gives the viewer a sense of choice and empowerment. 
      • Some men are challenged by body-image fears, anxiety or depression, PTSD or OCD, or other emotional difficulties. While watching porn will not solve these problems, it can offer an outlet for some relief.
    • Improvement of Sexual Problems: For men who experience erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or other sexual concerns, porn can provide a stress-free outlet. 
      • However, when watched in excess, watching porn may worsen these problems.
      • (Dr. Stan Hyman, 2022)12

Effects of Men Watching Porn

Watching too much porn can cause several adverse effects for men, including difficulty connecting to real-life partners, depression, and addiction. This is what we’ve found:

  • Negative impacts of excessively watching porn include:
    • The watcher may face difficulty becoming sexually aroused without pornography.
    • The watcher may lose interest and engage in fewer sexual experiences with a partner.
    • Partners may view pornography use as infidelity and betrayal of the relationship.
    • Partners may feel sexually inadequate and threatened by pornography use.
    • Partners may feel that certain sexual activities desired by the watcher are objectionable.
    • Both the watcher of porn and the partner experience a decrease in relationship sexual satisfaction and emotional closeness.
    • Relationship trust may decrease due to dishonesty and deception about pornography use.
    • One or both partners may be concerned about children’s exposure to pornographic materials.
      • (Utah State University, n.d.)17
  • According to Dr. Stan Hyman, watching porn can cause serious problems:
    • Negative Brain Function:
      • Excessive porn watching can potentially cause negative effects such as depression and erectile dysfunction.
    • Unreasonable Expectations:
      • Watching porn excessively can create unreasonable ideas of how sexual partners should behave. In addition, many forget that the actors in porn are paid to follow a carefully crafted script.
    • Diminished Interest In His Partner:
      • Excessive porn watching can also reduce the desire to have sex with his partner. 
      • Often, the more time a man spends watching porn and masturbating, the less interest he will have in having intimate sexual encounters with his spouse or partner.
    • Porn Addiction:
      • The recent increase in interest in viewing pornography has led some to label the behavior porn addiction. 
      • Porn addiction develops when watching porn is compulsive behavior, and the compulsion becomes uncontrollable.
      • (Dr. Stan Hyman, 2022)12

Can Porn Addiction Be Treated?

Below are some potential treatments and therapies that may help reduce or improve porn addiction:

  • Individual/Group Therapy:
    • Individual or group therapy with a qualified mental health professional is a safe and effective approach to helping with porn addiction. 
    • Individual therapy generally consists of 30-60 minute sessions, focusing on behaviors related to porn addiction and related issues.
  • Cognitive-Based Therapy (CBT):
    • CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are all related. When these become “dysfunctional” or overwhelmingly negative, it can lead to serious consequences in our lives.
    • CBT will often focus on negative thoughts about oneself, others, and the world (e.g., “I will never stop watching porn”) and work to change these into more positive, or functional, thoughts (e.g., “If I work at it, I will be able to stop watching porn”).
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI):
    • Motivational interviewing works on “meeting you where you are at” in your current addiction and helps you make your own decisions about when and if you are ready to make a change in your life.
    • MI is a less confrontational approach between the therapist and patient but can have a long-lasting effect on one’s behavior.
  • Mindfulness-Based Therapies:
    • Mindfulness-Based Therapies incorporate “mindfulness” as a key ingredient in treatment. Mindfulness is about focusing your attention on the present in a nonjudgmental way.
    • Mindfulness-based approaches help individuals improve their awareness of their thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and behaviors. This can help them relate to these experiences and thoughts differently and allow these “temporary” and “fleeting” experiences to arise and pass away instead of letting them control their behavior.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy:
    • Psychodynamic therapy works under the assumption that unconscious drives, conflicts, and memories influence our behavior. 
    • This kind of therapy traditionally explores early-childhood life events and their contribution to creating habits or “patterns” in one’s life.
    • It can also be present-focused and help the patient identify what is currently keeping them “stuck” in a certain behavior, such as porn addiction.
  • 12-Step Recovery:
    • 12-step recovery programs such as Sex Addicts Anonymous are typically group based and are similar to other recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.
    • These emphasize the importance of acknowledging one’s “powerlessness” over addiction and asking God for help in recovery. However, not all 12-step programs are centered around religious material.
  • Couples Therapy/Counseling:
    • Couple’s counseling can be essential for partners when one or both individuals watch porn unhealthily.
    • This type of counseling will focus on both resolving individual addictions or behaviors and improving communication, relations, and healthy sexual functioning between the two partners.
    • (PsychGuides.com, n.d.)18

Conclusion

Porn is a daily part of life for many men, and some say that its negative effects outweigh any potential benefits. Overconsumption of porn can lead to problems in men both sexually and emotionally, but the industry is big enough that it probably isn’t going anywhere any time soon.


Footnotes

  1. Cambridge University Press, 2017. A study on Male Sexuality and Pornography from the book Men and Sex by Philip Graham.
  2. Southern Equip, n.d. An article on How pornography works: It hijacks the male brain.
  3. Wiley Clinical Healthcare Hub, 2021a. An article on Pornography and its impact on the sexual health of men
  4. Iris Publishers, 2019. A study on The Effects of Pornography on Adult Males’ Relationships.
  5. Institute for Family Studies, 2022. A survey of 2,007 US adults on the prevalence of pornography viewing
  6. American Psychological Association, 2017. A study of 330 undergraduate men ages 17 to 54 years old at a large Midwestern university.
  7. Psychology Today, 2018. A study of 300 men who identified themselves as heterosexual, ranging in age from 18 to 73.
  8. The Indian Express, 2012. A study of 800 people that were surveyed about their pornography use.
  9. Wiley Clinical Healthcare Hub, 2021b. A study on more than 1,000 18–25-year-olds in Great Britain about their relationship with porn
  10. Fatherly, 2018. An article on the frequency of men consuming pornographic materials. Original source: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6756843
  11. Statista, 2019. A study of 1,008 respondents aged 18 years and older.
  12. Dr. Stan Hyman, 2022. An article on why men watch porn.
  13. Bryan Reeves, 2020. An article on What Drives A Man To Watch Porn: His 9 Secret Motivations.
  14. Very Well Mind, 2022. An article on Understanding the Effects of Porn Addiction.
  15. Men’s Resource Center, n.d. An article on sex and porn addiction.
  16. HuffPost, 2014. An article titled Pornography Addiction Among Men is On The Rise.
  17. Utah State University, n.d. An article on the Effects of Pornography on Relationships.
  18. PsychGuides.com, n.d. A comprehensive article on porn consumption and how to treat sexual addiction.
Dainis Graveris

Dainis Graveris

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