Nearly 100million adults could be addicted to pornography, a global study suggests. 

Researchers in Canada evaluated thousands of adults across the world for ‘problematic pornography use’ – defined as watching enough pornography that is has a negative impact on relationships and job performance – and found approximately three percent of people exhibited concerning usage, but less than one percent sought treatment.

The study, published in the journal Addiction, included more than 80,000 adults from dozens of countries.

Dr Beatha Bőthe, lead study author and psychologist at the University of Montreal, said: ‘Our research shows that the problematic pornography use may be more common than many might think and affects a wide range of people. 

‘It highlights that while many are struggling, not many seek help. That’s important because it suggests that more work needs to be done to understand and support those who are affected by it.’

Researchers in Canada found about three percent of people across the globe could be addicted to pornography

Researchers in Canada found about three percent of people across the globe could be addicted to pornography

The research team involved 80 co-authors, many of whom are members of the International Sex Survey consortium in the US, China, Europe, and other parts of the globe. 

They evaluated 82,243 adults in 42 countries, including the US, UK, China, France, and Germany, between October 2021 and May 2022. 

The average participant age was 32, and 57 percent of them were women.

Additionally, 68 percent were heterosexual. About one-third were single and one-third were in a relationship. The last third were married.

And more 70 percent of those studied had no children.

Hungary had the highest percentage of participants (14.6 percent), followed closely by Poland (12 percent). 

About three percent were American, while 1.7 percent were from the UK. 

Participants were given an anonymous survey that was originally written in English and then translated into 25 other languages. It took people roughly 25 to 45 minutes to complete it. 

Questions included how old participants were when they first looked at pornography, how often they had viewed the content in the past year, how long they spent viewing pornography, how often they masturbated, if they thought they had an addiction, and if they were seeking treatment. 

Concerning pornography use was measured using the Problematic Pornography Consumption Scale, which contained statements such as ‘I felt that porn is an important part of my life’ and ‘I became stressed when something prevented me from watching porn.’ 

The team found ‘in North America, Europe, and Australia, 70 to 94 percent of adults have used pornography at some point in their lives,’ Dr Bőthe said.

Additionally, based on the survey results, the researchers suggested about three percent of the global population may have pornography habits that affect their everyday lives.

Concerning consumption of porn was more common in men than women, though there were no significant differences based on sexual orientation. 

Less than one percent of all participants said they sought treatment for what they perceived as their pornography addiction.

Additional results from the study found that, on average, participants viewed sexually explicit materials for the first time by age 14. 

The team did not measure what types of pornography people prefer to consume, which could include videos, webcam shows, erotic literature, chat rooms, and virtual reality.

Experts have warned that consuming excessive amounts of porn could be a sign of sex addiction, which is suffered by as many as 24 million Americans – though experts still debate whether the addiction can be classified as a real condition 

Other signs include obsessive thoughts about sex, compulsive sexual behaviors, remorse or guilt after sex and lying to cover up behaviors. 

The research published in Addicition is some of many highlighting potential harms of watching too much pornography. 

A study published in June, for example, found Israeli men with higher levels of pornography usage were more likely to have negative body image and exhibit habits of disordered eating like binging and purging. 

And research from Brigham Young University found even men who preferred ‘softcore’ porn – which depicts consensual sex – were more likely to admit that they were not satisfied in their relationships. 

The experts from the BYU study called on people to quit watching pornography entirely in order to help them maintain committed relationships. 

‘As much of the content of pornography emphasizes casual sexual encounters and multiple partners, it is possible that regular exposure to these types of sexual messages may alter sexual and relational scripts in ways that weakens stability [in a relationship],’ the team wrote. 

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