How Onlyfans Affects Mental Health

Onlyfans has almost 170 million users. It's a million-dollar business that hides a dark reality. In fact, its content creators put their mental health at risk in many ways.
How Onlyfans Affects Mental Health
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 06 June, 2023

OnlyFans is a crowdsourced amateur pornography platform. Subscribers pay to view adult content and creators are free to expose themselves as they see fit. In effect, it means that sex work has acquired one more level of sophistication to continue as a business. However, this voyeurism of the 21st century has its price. In this case, it’s the fact that Onlyfans affects the mental health of both its content creators and subscribers.

Many young people have found Onlyfans a profitable way to earn an income without leaving home. All they need is an Internet connection and a computer with a camera. But, selling explicit content through these mechanisms isn’t harmless. There’s always a dark side to the porn industry. And, several of them are related to psychological well-being.

But, what’s the reality of these anonymous content creators like? Moreover, what effects does Onlyfans have on its subscribers? You can find out in this article.

Onlyfans content creators suffer recurring negative experiences with subscribers. These take their toll on their mental health.

The psychological effects of Onlyfans on content creators

No one can deny that, with the advent of the Internet, the world of pornography discovered its best platform. The journal, Technology in Society highlights this issue, as well as how digital technologies have empowered the buying and selling of sexual services. Onlyfans is the clear result of this qualitative leap.

We’re at the point of normalization of digital pornography. In fact, the pandemic made OnlyFans become a highly relevant platform and a large number of men and women found it a useful way of earning income. Today, the subscription service has at least 170 million users.

However, some creators, over time, end up abandoning this way of working. Indeed, far from being easy money, it’s a task that frequently has consequences on their mental health. These effects are constantly being analyzed.

Demeaning bias toward women

It isn’t the same to be a female content creator as a male one. As a rule, women who expose themselves on Onlyfans suffer higher levels of harassment, scorn, and prejudice than men. The University of New South Wales (Australia) conducted a study that confirms this fact.

Sex workers tend to carry the burden of stigma and the violent narratives of society. It doesn’t matter that, on this occasion, they’re exhibiting themselves in front of a camera and selling amateur pornography content. The objectification and criticism they receive are the same. Nothing’s changed.

Content creators often interact with their users. This can be psychologically exhausting. They tend to perceive themselves as mere dehumanized ‘objects’.

The loneliness of the creators

Some people take it for granted that working on Onlyfans is a quick and easy way to earn money. But, many don’t realize that creating pornographic material is a lonely and psychologically destructive experience. It’s not a pleasant or sophisticated task. Moreover, over time, it can become demeaning.

Many girls internalize the stigma associated with sex work. It gradually undermines their self-esteem and self-concept. In addition, some of them carry out the work without the knowledge of those around them, thus increasing their feelings of loneliness, shame, and emotional discomfort. An article published in Sexuality and Culture refers to these psychological effects.

The weight of loneliness associated with sex work leads, in many cases, to the appearance of mood disorders such as depression. Therefore, it’s a subject that shouldn’t be neglected.

Harassment and the uncontrollable effect of the materials created

Onlyfans permits interaction between content creators and users. In fact, the transactional element is the most important of this particular platform. Unfortunately, it has clear implications for the mental health of those exposed.

  • Many of the creators of Onlyfans content suffer harassment from their followers.
  • Content isn’t protected. Therefore, it repeatedly ends up on other digital platforms.
  • Users can become demanding and request certain actions that cross the creator’s boundaries.
  • Onlyfans makes it easy to form parasocial relationships. For instance, subscribers may feel affection, admiration, or obsession with content creators. Some of them move from feelings of lust to love, giving shape to uncomfortable situations.
  • In 2021, The Avery Center published a report regarding Onlyfans. According to the document, 30 percent of those who display on this platform have been threatened with their profile being deleted if they don’t create new content. In fact, the pressure exerted on them by the developers of this space often conditions them to produce more explicit content. This encourages the feeling of prostitution.

It’s common for the platform’s material to end up being distributed by Telegram. This is a clear violation of its creators, who are publicly exposed, with all that this entails.

The consequences of Onlyfans on the mental health of users

A study conducted by Cleveland State University (USA) states that many Onlyfans users are white married men. It could also be said that this platform is a stage for many people who feel lonely and dissatisfied. Or, for those who are simply curious.

This is a new field that requires more research to understand its implications and significance. However, it’s still another form of pornography, which has had a great impact on society for decades. Next, we’re going to examine the effects of pornography.

Changes in sexual behavior

Frequently consuming pornography modifies the sexual behavior of those who are exposed to it. It’s common for those who are used to seeing this kind of adult content to exhibit more violent sexual behavior toward women, as confirmed in a study conducted by the University of New Hampshire (USA).

This is something that significantly mediates the way adolescents build their sexual-affective relationships. In the case of Onlyfans, in many cases, users ask creators for increasingly explicit and violent content.

On the other hand, excessive consumption of this material could cause sexual dysfunction on a daily basis. This is because, when subscribers are with their regular partners, they don’t get the same excitement as when they watch Onlyfans.

Porn addiction is a mental health consequence of the use of Onlyfans

As reported in a study conducted by the University of Salamanca (Spain), the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and the APA already recognize pornography addiction as a type of behavioral addiction. This condition is increasingly frequent and reinforced by online content, such as the Onlyfans platform.

The Onlyfans space fuels users’ sexual fantasies. It’s a way for them to find stimuli that they can’t find in their real lives. Over time, this situation has consequences. Here are the indicators of porn addiction:

  • Social isolation.
  • Collecting pornographic material.
  • Irritability when the individual can’t view pornographic content.
  • Spending a large amount of money on porn.
  • Preferring to masturbate to pornographic content, rather than having real physical encounters.
  • Spending much of their time-consuming porn, to the point of neglecting their work and social life.
  • Progressive mental exhaustion. Symptoms of anxiety and depression appear along with the risk of addictions, such as alcohol.

Onlyfans and the care of our mental health

While it’s true that more analysis and studies are needed to understand the scope of Onlyfans in terms of mental health, one thing is clear. Technology has done nothing more than increase an old social reality that, in one way or another, consistently brings suffering at the cost of great economic gains.

Preventing the unintended consequences of these types of platforms requires two things. Firstly, those who use them should have high levels of awareness, respect and empathy, and understand their motivations. Secondly, they must understand that there are certain intrapersonal boundaries that mustn’t be crossed. This means that no one will get hurt and everyone will end up getting what they want.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.