Sex after a baby.
For many mothers, it’s the deep, dark, empty abyss where fun and play once flourished. And let’s be honest, at the end of a day with a boogery baby, we don’t always feel like sex. What’s more, some women may be so mangled from their pregnancy or delivery that sex has become something that hurts. During those times, many mothers report resorting to non-penetrative sexual acts, or even porn to please their partner.
If you’re considering adding porn to your postpartum sexual recovery, you may also want to consider that what seems like an innocent gift of license to your partner may actually cause an even greater rift between you both? There’s a reason some experts refer to porn as the “junk food of sex”.
Now here’s the HOLY COW statistic you deserve to know.
In her 2004 testimony before the US Senate, Dr. Jill Manning revealed that 56% of divorces she researched involved one party having a porn addiction (1). The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that over 30% of divorces sited Internet Porn as a contributor to their marital devastation.(2)
Russell Brand Vs. The Porn Industry
Towards the beginning of his rational, reasonable, non-judgmental speech, Brand quotes a priest who said, “Pornography is not a problem because it shows us too much, it’s a problem because it shows us too little.” In other words,
Relying on porn to forge intimacy in the bedroom only isolates you from your partner.
Brand also points out pornography is something he categorically avoids in his own life, saying, “I have dominion over myself. I will never look at porn again.” Did that actually turn you on as much as it did me? I find a man with dominion over himself to be super sexy!
In a culture with “icebergs of filth flowing through every house on wifi”, it’s become commonplace for men (and women!) to shrug porn off as normal. You see soft core porn idolized in movies and books such as the blockbuster “50 Shades of Grey”, but also in billboards and magazine advertisements. Instagram can be a stream of motivational quotes, or a stream of softcore porn, as well; even Justin Bieber recently said that he refuses to participate anymore (despite having had 77 million followers) because Instagram is “for the devil”(3).
5 Symptoms of Cultural Porn Overload
Brand identifies 5 detriments of pornography by quoting Dr. Gary R. Brooks, which from this article at The National Coalition For The Protection of Children and Families’ Website.
Voyerism – The obsession with looking at a woman without interacting.
Objectification – Looking at a woman for their body parts as opposed to their grey matter.
Validation – The need to validate masculinity through beautiful women.
Trophyism – The idea that women are trophies that make men feel more worthy.
Fear of True Intimacy – Porn glorifies sex without real commitment to a person and their needs.
Porned Out – How We’re Tangling With Nature
I’ve personally done a comprehensive study of a book called Porned Out by Brian McDougal. If you’re interested in the subject of porn and it’s affects on erectile dysfunction and relationships, please give this a read! I’ve read a lot books on the subject of porn and this stands as one of my favorite. Another favorite expert on the subject is Alex Allman – a brilliant, devoted husband and father who writes about love and sex at RevolutionarySex.com.
“Your brain evolved for thousands of years in an environment filled with real women and no porn. Nothing prepared it for having an infinite source of streaming sex handily available. Yet, you probably think porn is natural and that masturbating to it is healthy.(4)” Brian McDougal, Porned Out
I love the subtitle of Porned Out, too: “Erectile dysfunction, depression, and 7 more (selfish) reasons to quit porn”. The author comes from a place of humility. He abused pornography and found a way to quit because it truly benefited his body, his mind, and his relationships. He did not have a religious experience and speaks entirely from a secular/non-religious background. When we begin to see a proliferation of anti-porn voices that are non-religious in nature, we will know society is fundamentally waking up.
McDougal continues to point out all the ways we detrimentally rewire our brains through exposure to porn. It’s fascinating to look at the difference between how our brains were designed and the way we’ve convoluted nature (and our ability to enjoy real intimacy) with pornography. He likens the influx of porn in our culture to an entire generation that chain smokes cigarettes without knowing how harmful they are. So to are we, he says, destroying our bodies and minds with online porn.
How Porn Destroys Your Ability To Enjoy Sex
He points out that when you look at porn, you over-stimulate your brain to the point where your brain actually thinks you’re having sex with multiple partners. You’re desensitized to normal sex with one partner.
The Coolidge Effect is paramount to understanding why porn is so addictive. Mammalian brains hone in on procreation. If you think you’re having sex when watching porn, your brain tells you that’s a good thing because it’s wired to procreate. Researchers tested this on a non-human mammal, the guinea pig. Sooty the guinea pig was given the opportunity to mate with 24 females. He ran into that cage like a fox in a henhouse and had intercourse with every single one. Sooty then slept for two days and woke up to over 40 babies in 24 different ovens. Pornography is the same way. When a man looks at porn, his brain says, “well done! You’re on track for procreation, that’s just what I want!”
The problem? Pornography isn’t helping procreation. It’s causing erectile dysfunction, depression, and an inability to function in normal, healthy relationships.
Here’s where things get interesting. Did you know that when you view porn, your brain receives so much dopamine that the receiving cells are unable to handle it? The receiving cell drops dopamine receptors, rendering it unable to receive dopamine in the future. The more you watch porn, the more desensitized you are to it and the less dopamine is able to travel to your brain.
Pornography is a lot like drug use. There are a million theories as to how you can quit, but it's an addiction. Different things work for different people.
Adding Insult To Injury…
If you or your husband are viewing porn on a regular basis, you are hurting your partner in ways you might not realize. You begin to judge your partner’s body and your partner will begin to feel the rejection of your desensitized state to his or her body. What’s more, you actually enjoy sex with your partner less. It simply doesn’t give you the same dopamine boost as it used to.
If you’re a mother who’s husband relies on porn to get him through the sex drought that so often accompanies new motherhood, he may be totally disinterested in you and your body once you’re ready to reignite your sex life. You can essentially go from pregnancy to postpartum exhaustion to sexual rejection from your spouse, who has become desensitized to real sex. Your body has changed, but porn will create an unrealistic expectation in your spouse’s mind of what your body should look like.
Any way you spin it, porn has no place in your marriage, and it especially doesn’t belong in your postpartum recovery.
If knowing that porn use is desensitizing, depressing, and isolating you from the pleasure and intimacy you deserve isn’t enough, try reading Rational Recovery(5) or literature from Alcoholics Anonymous. If you’ve become addicted, you’ll need to undergo the same self-control and detoxification period as somebody with a drug addiction.
Your brain, after all, doesn’t know the difference between cocaine and pornography.
Above all, show yourself some grace! Happily, when you stop stimulating your brain with pornography, your brain will recover dopamine sensitivity slowly but surely. According to McDougal, when you recover dopamine sensitivity, you may sleep more deeply, have better energy and memory, and you’ll start to overcome your depression. There’s a natural withdrawal period, which can be brutal, but recovering your mind’s natural ability to receive pleasure is worth it. Like anything, once you get through the withdrawals, surrendering to wellness is oh so very sweet.
(1) 1. Manning J., Senate Testimony 2004, referencing: Dedmon, J., “Is the Internet bad for your marriage? Online affairs, pornographic sites playing greater role in divorces,” 2002, press release from The Dilenschneider Group, Inc.
(4) McDougal, Brian (2012-11-10). Porned Out: erectile dysfunction, depression, and 7 more (selfish) reasons to quit porn (Kindle Locations 429-433). Kindle Edition.