Personal and reported partner pornography viewing by Australian women, and association with mental health and body image

Ingrid L. Laemmle-Ruff, Michelle Raggatt, Cassandra J.C. Wright, Elise R. Carrotte, Angela Davis, Rebecca Jenkinson, Megan S.C. Lim

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Abstract

Background: Personal and partner pornography viewing may affect health and wellbeing. This study aimed to improve understanding of the effects of pornography on mental health and body image, given emerging evidence of increasing use, particularly among young people. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was implemented, targeting people who had accessed health and fitness content via social media. Convenience sampling was used and participants were recruited via advertising on social media. Results: Overall, 76% (75/99) of women reported having ever viewed pornography, and 21% had viewed pornography frequently (monthly/weekly/daily) in the prior 12 months. The association between frequent viewing and higher-risk Kessler 10 Psychological Distress Scale scores lost significance once controlled for age (adjusted OR 2.30, 95%CI 0.82-6.49, P = 0.11). There was an association with frequent reported partner pornography use (monthly/weekly/daily) and increased Drive for Muscularity scores (adjusted OR 2.20, 95%CI 1.01-4.80, P = 0.048). There were no other associations found with pornography use (personal or partner) and body image or mental health, although this was limited by the small sample size. Most women (85%, 41/48) reported being happy with their partner's pornography use, and in qualitative responses, indicated that pornography had minimal effect on their lives. Nevertheless, multiple qualitative responses indicated a multiplicity of perceived effects of pornography, including negative effects on body image. Conclusions: Pornography had a minor effect on mental health and body image in this study. Additional research is required to improve understanding of the effects of pornography on body image and mental health, particularly among vulnerable individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-79
Number of pages5
JournalSexual Health
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

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