Great info-graphic comparing dopamine levels of drugs, sex and porn

Submitted by gary on
Printer-friendly version

Just found this graphic. It's great because this is what I imagine might happen during a porn session where you edge (use porn without climaxing) for a while. Note that all the other graphs are taken from rat research, where a probe was inserted into the nucleus accumbens of the reward circuitry. Please know that no one has measured dopamine levels in human brains during sex or porn viewing.

One problem: the graph has sex at 200% but porn at 250%, indicating that porn viewing elevates dopamine beyond great sex. I don't think that is the case. You may be thinking "I get a better erection with porn", or "Porn turns me on more than than real people". If this is the case, porn use now releases more dopamine than real sex. However, its neuroplastic changes such as sexual conditioning and/or addiction-related brain changes that have created a discrepancy. For example, if the best sex you could possibly ever have raises dopamine 200%, we can envision 200% as analogous to the speed of light: it can't be topped by natural rewards (including porn use). If you suffer porn-induced ED or have conditioned your sexual arousal to Internet porn, sex may only elevate dopamine 140%, while porn could jack it up to 170%. Your conditioned brain now perceives porn as greater than sex, but you haven't broken the natural limit (200%). These percentages are for example only.

Porn Effects on Dopamine Levels



all the graphs, except porn,

come from actual experiments on rats. That's why it drives me nuts when websites or speakers state that the internet porn is just like meth or crack cocaine, or other sloppy analogies. We say that when someone has a serious behavioral addiction, such as Internet porn, the major changes observed are similar to drug addiction. Then we add - sensitization, desensitization and hypofrontality.

Such analogies lead people to think that that porn use can cause damage just like meth. It's possible that drugs can cause permanent damage which affects dopamine systems, whereas behavioral addictions cannot.

Almost all the rat graphs on dopamine

available are males. Far fewer dopamine measurement have been done on females. Plus, each dot represent an ejaculation. Can't tell if lady rats have orgasms...but the females clearly enjoy "intromissions" as dopamine levels rise in them too.