News / Halifax

'Clearly a big problem:' Nova Scotia, internet porn and our mental health

Dubbed The Porn Diet, the series by health officials from Nova Scotia wants to get more people talking about the taboo topic and its impact.

A user gets an online porn fix in this stock image.

Yui Mok / Getty Images

A user gets an online porn fix in this stock image.

Portable and easily accessible internet porn has the potential to impact our mental health and we need to start talking about it.

That’s the message a group of mental health professionals are sharing through a series of public talks across the province intended to shine light on “problematic use” of internet pornography.

“It’s so easy to just create many tabs and you click through the tabs so you’re exposed to that many novel stimuli the whole time you’re masturbating. So you get dopamine surge, dopamine surge every time. You won’t have that with a partner,” explained Sonja Svensson, one of the organizers of The Porn Diet talks.

“If you’re only able to get an erection to pornography and then you try in a relationship to get an erection and you’re not able to, the shame associated with that would lead you back to pornography which perpetuates that cycle until you’re not really able to have a functional sexual relationship with a partner.”

In addition to more men experiencing relationship problems linked to internet porn addictions, cases of erectile dysfunction are now on the rise and impacting younger men and adolescents.

“I work at the forensic sexual behaviour program and we often get calls from people in the community. Case workers, sometimes people who have clients and sometimes people specifically calling in because they have issues with internet pornography,” explained Svensson.

“It’s not within our program mandate to work with people who are not convicted of a crime, so unfortunately we don’t really know where to send them. But this is clearly a big problem.”

Svensson is one of six mental health professionals who have collaborated to deliver a series of talks about internet pornography across the province this fall. The first Porn Diet talk happens in Dartmouth later this month.

“Internet pornography is this huge thing in society now, but people aren’t really talking about it. When it’s not talked about, it becomes more problematic,” she said.

“People need to know that addiction to internet pornography especially can be damaging with problematic use and that there are resources available for them.”

Svennson stressed they aren’t anti-porn. The talks will give participants a chance to ask questions anonymously and a list of local available resources will be provided.

“There are healthy uses of pornography. As long as it is not an addictive, interfering-with-your-life problem, then it can be ok,” she said.

“With how mobile technology is now, it has become more of an issue because you can be looking at porn on your phone at all times. You could be on the bus looking at porn, in class looking at porn instead of paying attention, or sitting at a dinner table looking at porn on your phone rather than engaging with family.”

Upcoming dates and details are available on The Porn Diet Talks Facebook page.

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