Porn gets a bad rep, and we’re not just talking about the shame that creeps up after you’ve closed the laptop. X-rated flicks have been linked to erectile dysfunction, unrealistic expectations, difficulty ejaculating, sex addiction and even sexual violence. And don’t get us started on online security.

If any of the above is true, though, not a lot of people are listening. Viewing numbers for porn are at record levels, with PornHub getting 23bn visits in 2016. But what’s good for Kleenex isn’t necessarily good for your relationship.

In the most recent study on the impact of porn, researchers at the University of New Brunswick studied its impact on female satisfaction. They surveyed more than 1,000 people and found that women who watch porn often feel let down by sex, because what they see in porn seems to last longer, with much, erm, happier endings. Oh, and far bigger penises too. Go figure.

In other words, it’s causing women to have higher expectations when it comes to sex: porn writes the cheques that real men just can’t cash – no matter how many shots.

They also found that women suffer from sexual and image-related insecurities, too, because like the gigantic penises, female porn actors’ bodies also tend to be a far cry from reality.

Before you go and cry into your nearest private browser however, we studied the real effects of porn, collating all the research we could find on how it affects your sex drive, relationship and happiness.

You’re More Sexually Adventurous

Research from 2010 recruited more than 200 college students to find out if watching porn made them any more or less sexually liberated. The results were clear. They concluded that porn can “expand sexual horizons through normalization and facilitate a willingness to explore new sexual behaviors and sexual relationships through empowerment”. Which is a scientific way of saying kinky see, kinky do.

How Porn Affects Relationships

You Might Find It Harder To Delay Gratification

Growing up is hard: we do things we don’t like because we know we’ll be rewarded later. In fact, it’s why most of us get up in the morning and go to work. But if you find yourself unable to stop breaking your diet, or spending too much money before payday, maybe you’re watching too much porn. A study last year asked participants to either abstain from porn or their favourite food for three weeks, and they found that people who watch porn are less able to delay gratification than those who don’t.

You Should Be Less Stressed

Okay, so this doesn’t strictly relate to porn, but researchers have found that masturbating lowers stress levels. And let’s be honest – only sociopaths watch porn without a tug. The research paper concluded: “Those who masturbate do not seem to be as affected by stressors. They may be more able to think clearly and rationally, use a rational, thoughtful style to solve problems.” Maybe leave that off your LinkedIn skills, though.

Someone Is More Likely To Cheat

Researchers have found that excessive porn habits can erode intimacy and commitment in a relationship. One 2011 study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that couples who watched no porn at all (either together or individually) were less than half as likely to cheat than couples who brought in the iPad. Porn free relationships also have less negative communication and greater satisfaction.

Does Porn Make People Cheat?

You Can Become Addicted – Like, Properly Addicted

Porn addiction is more insidious than, say, sitting on a park bench with a crate of Special Brew – just because you’re functioning doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful. People who are addicted to porn show similar brain activity to people addicted to alcohol or drugs, according to research by Cambridge University.

Researchers studied people suffering with a porn addiction, and saw that the reward centres in the brain reacted in the same way to porn that an alcoholic’s brain would seeing an advert for alcohol.

If You’re Into Hardcore Stuff, You’ll Have More Sex, But Less Intimacy

Researchers from the University of Zagreb in Croatia surveyed 650 men in 2007, asking them about their sex lives and porn use. They found that those who watched violent or fetish porn were more likely than those who watched mainstream, nonviolent porn to have a higher number of sexual partners over the course of their life. The downside to all that shagging however, was less intimacy. Which makes sense, considering most people don’t want a slap across the face in flagrante.

It’s Better To Do It Together

The same study found that if you are going to flick through some filth, it’s better to do it together than alone. Researchers found that people who only watched porn with their partners were more dedicated to the relationship, and more sexually satisfied than those who vacate to the bathroom for a very long time indeed.

Couple Watching Porn Together

It’s Likely You’re All For Equality, Not Violence

Porn has a reputation for being violent, and, in turn, encouraging others to be violent. While there is a lot of violent pornography on the web, there still isn’t much evidence supporting the claim it encourages sexual violence in itself.

A professor at Université de Montréal, for example, interviewed 20 men who all watched porn (shock). They said they supported gender equality, and disagreed with people who say porn causes sexual violence. Another study performed way back in 1990 found that in US states with a higher circulation of soft porn mags (ah, those were the days), had higher levels of gender equality.

You Might Have Issues, Even If You Don’t Realise It

Watching porn may not be having any adverse impact on your life whatsoever – but if it is, you might not realise. A study found that a sizeable majority of adults see other people as being more negatively influenced by porn than they are themselves. Just remember that the next time you switch to incognito mode.