Pornography: Unseen monster distorting hormones, psychology

Porn sites regularly pop up in the rankings of most visited websites in Kenya

In Summary

• The ease with which one can access explicit videos online has increased porn viewership for gratification

• However, psychologists warn addicts have concentration problems, objectify women and could suffer erectile dysfunction

A new survey shows most women watch porn on smartphones than men
A new survey shows most women watch porn on smartphones than men
Image: FILE

Porn is used a lot by the modern society. Despite the moral outrage conservatives have for it, many Kenyans watch it in private while turning a blind eye to it in public.

With high internet penetration, cheap data and mobile access through smartphones, porn use is becoming more prevalent in the society. Porn sites regularly pop up in the rankings of most visited websites in Kenya.

But with the rampant watching of porn comes the likelihood of addiction.


Some Kenyans opened up to the Star on what they think about pornography. Moses, a self-confessed addict, said it was not something he would advise people to watch.

He said porn is bad for an idle mind. He knew he was addicted when his girlfriend would visit him and he wanted to view porn, while she was still present with him!

Kevin said he has never been addicted to porn, but he has heard it can mess up with one’s psyche. He said he would never advise anyone to use porn for sexual release.

Caroline did not mind that people use porn for entertainment. “To each their own,” she said.

However, she believes using porn will most likely affect a person's sex life. She said one should be careful about porn, as it is fake and can lead someone to have unrealistic expectations for their sex life. 

Steven said porn is like “extended prostitution”. Another issue he had with it is that he knew a couple of friends who were addicted and as a result objectified women.

However, if a couple is in mutual agreement about watching it, then he has no issue with that. 


Does the (vice or blessing, depending on who you ask) come with its drawbacks? There are an increasing number of studies that show pornography might be a ticking time bomb for many Kenyans.

According to research conducted by, there are signs one might be addicted to porn.

Some of those signs can be an addict hiding their porn use from family. The addict might also experience the craving to view porn at all hours of the day, often losing a large amount of time.

Other symptoms can be that the addict becomes hostile when asked to stop watching porn. Addicts are unable to stop watching porn even after many repeated attempts to stop it.

It can get so bad for an addict that they have to get more explicit porn to get the dopamine rush they need. This comes after one has developed a tolerance with normal porn.

All these warning signs can lead to the addict's health, job and relationships being affected by the addiction. What is rarely spoken about, however, is that porn can also cause erectile dysfunction, a term in the medical world known as porn-induced erectile dysfunction.

The worrying trend has been seen in the West, with men as young as 25 having issues that used to affect men their grandfather's ages in the past.

It is an addiction just like cigarette smoke or gambling. High porn usage can rewire one's brain and neuropaths. 


Everything is good in moderation. The issue is when the user has to use PORN for any sexual arousal to take place 
Behavioural psychologist Dr Kamau


Behavioural psychologists Jessi Heller and Dr Kamau from Autism Awareness gave illuminating insights on the subject.

Dr Kamau said porn in itself is not a problem. “Everything is good in moderation,” he said. The issue he has is when the user has to use the material for any sexual arousal to take place.

Jessi raised an issue with how porn paints women in a negative light. “It has unrealistic expectations of what sex is supposed to be like or look like,” he said.

Dr Kamau warned that addiction leads to adverse effects on memory, hence altering the person’s thinking, as the addict's mind will solely concentrate on pornography.

He said another area of concern is that those addicted to porn also commonly have other addictions like gambling and alcohol. Moreover, men are more likely to suffer from porn addiction.

Another psychologist, Lilian Odhiambo, from Kiambu Referral Hospital, said in an interview with KNA the addiction can lead to emission of hormones that can lead to grave consequences to the addict.

She said addiction activates hormones such as dopamine, responsible for memory and pleasure among others, which unconsciously start to negatively arouse the body, thus pushing addicts into behaviours like masturbation.

Odhiambo said addiction inhibits sound judgment in issues like studies or community development programmes, as the mind is normally clouded by the images it has seen.


Addicts should combat boredom by getting hobbies like a sports club, a reading group or start volunteering.


Former Citizen TV news anchor Johnson Mwakazi is also one man who suffered from the addiction. Mwakazi, who grew up in the slums of Kibera and later went to Jamhuri High School, confessed that his addiction started when he was in class 8.

In an interview with Radio Jambo, he said it was a fellow classmate in Kibera who introduced him to porn. From then on, it was a descent into addiction for him.

It got so bad that any little money he got would be used in watching more of the movies. He also confessed to feeling ashamed and could not even look his mother in the eye, admitting that he knew what he was doing was wrong.

His turn from porn came when he got saved while still in high school. He said a teacher made him take his faith much more seriously, and that is when he decided to kill the habit.

Mwakazi's warning to men is to run and keep running from the blue movies. While many might not reveal their deeply personal stories about porn addiction, the signs they share are all too common, like Mwakazi feeling shame about the habit.

Another outspoken former addict, Ruth Njagi, is now a staunch born-again Christian. She said in her dark days, she who would watch and masturbate to pornography. Ruth was addicted to porn for many years, saying she watched her first movie just after finishing high school.

Ruth told the Star's Elizabeth Ngigi last year her use of porn would make her lose the desire to have sex, as she had already satisfied herself.

Ruth is a classic example of addiction, as she says she hid it from everyone she knew. Also, she had developed a tolerance to porn and she needed more to satisfy her sexual urge.

One time she spent the whole weekend watching porn. She says it was like applying a soothing balm to a wound, and she could not stay away.

Ruth said her porn addiction was a manifestation of an emotional wound that she had had since she was a young girl. She revealed that she had been raped by two teenage boys when she was five years old.

This is very common among many addictions — that the addict is running away from an issue in their life that they have failed to deal with.

Ruth said her journey to recovery is still ongoing, as it is an everyday struggle for her.



Dr Thomas Plante says dealing with porn addiction is done in a multi-faceted manner.

Many psychologists have suggested that the addict should talk to someone they trust, who they believe will listen without being judgemental, or talk to a psychologist if that fails.

The professionals also propose that the addict should deal with past trauma and also combat underlying problems like stress, depression and anxiety that may fuel a pornography addiction.

They add that addicts should learn healthy ways to control their anger and cope with frustration by using healthy daily activities. They should also combat boredom by getting hobbies like a sports club, a reading group or start volunteering.

Professionals advise porn addicts to deal with loneliness by socialising and making friends.

A controversial piece of advice that was also posited is that the addict should try masturbating without the use of porn.

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