“How I Recovered from Porn-related Erectile Dysfunction”

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For the most current information about this phenomenon, visit Is my erectile dysfunction (ED) related to my porn use?

A 28-year old heals his chronic copulatory impotence.

guy waiting"As Porn Goes Up, Performance Goes Down?" recounted that men were reporting erectile dysfunction in connection with Internet porn use—even in their twenties. The response was astonishing. The item has been read tens of thousands of times, and numerous heavy porn users have confirmed that they are indeed experiencing loss of erectile potency. It seems that masturbation "ain't what it used to be." Free, streaming, hyper-stimulating videos are a relatively recent, and surprisingly problematic, phenomenon.

The issue lies not in viewers' perfectly healthy penises, but in their brain's reward circuitry—and there is no quick fix. Normal dopamine sensitivity in the reward circuitry is critical to normal sexual responsiveness, and too much stimulation appears to weaken the dopamine response of many brains. To return to normal, the brain needs time to reboot, without extreme stimulation.

Unfortunately, most porn users don't realize what's going on until the problem is quite severe, because they naturally tend to "solve" any erectile sluggishness with more extreme porn (thus forcing the release of the dopamine needed to achieve an erection, but also further dampening the brain's natural sensitivity and their sexual responsiveness). Some sufferers naturally resort to risky sexual enhancement drugs, not realizing that they are only masking/worsening a problem they can heal themselves. To illustrate, here are a man's comments about his journey back to erectile health:

[Week three of no porn, masturbation or orgasm] For years, I looked at porn and masturbated to multiple orgasms at least once a day, beginning during high school. At university, I was a computer nerd with glasses and no social life, though I played a lot of sport. I'd stay in my room and study, play guitar or masturbate. I got pretty good at all these things.

I got an IT job, and once I could afford my own cable Internet connection, the floodgates opened. With unlimited access to high quality porn 24/7, I'd stay up till 4 a.m. and get up at the crack of noon. Some months I binged so much that I exceeded my Internet quota and received bills of $1000. I used to have 5-10 windows of streaming video open at a time, and bounce between them, which really upped the levels of arousal. This pattern continued throughout my early twenties. I was not happy at all, and my doctor diagnosed me with depression.

Porn temporarily took my desire away, so I thought it was a good thing, keeping me "balanced." I was proud that I could look at a hot girl on the street and not feel the slightest hint of arousal because porn had desensitized me. It was a way of taking back the power that I believed women had over me. Only much later did I realize how destructive this was.

Most of what I'd learned at school, in the media and on the Internet said masturbation, and even porn, are healthy. All the guys I knew were into it, so I never so it occurred to me how abnormal it actually is in contrast with a natural sex life. As far as I knew, masturbation had no downside, and viewing porn was just something all guys do all the time. Many of my friends still have this view.

When I finally lost my virginity at 23, my first time was terrible. I was semi-hard, nervous and nothing was working. I did not enjoy it at all, and I'm sure my ex-girlfriend would say the same. I did love her, but I'd been training my nervous system to respond sexually another way for so long, it was like my body didn't know what to do. Our sex life was one of the main reasons we broke up after a couple of years. I was watching porn a lot the whole time. Now, I realize that I was sabotaging our relationship, but at the time I blamed her. She did have problems of her own, but didn't deserve all the blame. In my defense, I honestly didn't know any better.

Since then, I've had sex, but I've never really been able to relax and enjoy it. I'm always nervous, and frequently have problems getting an erection. My last orgasm was at the hands of a Chinese massage girl and even then, I had trouble orgasming. She was pretty and had an attractive body, but it took a long time for me to orgasm, and she almost gave up. This is just one example of how I've shorted-circuited my ability to become aroused through normal means.

A hot girl could be naked with legs spread on the bed in front of me, and I'd still need some sort of manual stimulation to get hard. This really scares me. I want my libido back. I want to feel normal again. I want to be connected with the rest of the world and enjoy my life. I've been using porn to escape, and I'm convinced it played a significant part in causing my past depression.

Last year, I had a decent attempt at quitting porn and noticed improvements. But I was still masturbating and reading erotica during that time. This current effort is the first time I've actually tried going without any orgasm or externally arousing stimuli, and I feel that this is the key. It seems like total abstinence would speed the recovery process. I would also point out that I'm 28 and pretty healthy physically and emotionally, and my diet is pretty clean. I'm working out regularly. I don't smoke. I do drink to excess on the weekends though.

flat lineThe strange thing is that it hasn't been hard to stop, once I made the decision. Apart from mild headaches and restless sleep, I haven't had the withdrawal symptoms many people mention. Instead, I feel nothing. It's like I just don't have a libido. No morning wood. No wet dreams. No spontaneous erections. No cravings. Haven't been horny. I've had opportunities to have sex but my body is not responding. I'm taking tango classes, so I'm reasonably social but still no sign of my libido. I can dance with a beautiful girl and have no physical reaction whatsoever. I'm aware cerebrally that a girl is attractive, but I don't feel it physically.

The thing that keeps me going with the abstinence is my faith that I'll be able to reboot my brain and get back to normal. But it's frustrating.

[Six weeks later] This week marks a turning point in my recovery process. Before I go on, I need to describe the girl from tango dancing. She's tall, green eyes (I love green eyes), great body, and cool as hell. She's really street smart and down to earth and can hold a conversation about heaps of things. She just wants to have fun, which is exactly what I need right now.

I think it's safe to say my libido is back, but it was eight weeks of no porn, masturbation or erotica, and minimal fantasy. My goal was to make it to a wet dream, as an indication that my body was beginning to respond normally. I never made it. Last week, I had an externally stimulated orgasm with a Thai massage girl. Part of me wishes I'd waited, just out of curiosity to see how long it would have taken. But then my goal is to have a healthy sex life again, not wet dreams.

Other than that incident, it was straight abstinence. [When I finally had sex with the girl I met at tango class], there was no erectile dysfunction (ED). I was hard without her touching me downstairs. We had sex multiple times, so on the second and third time I needed a little "help," but there was no ED as such. The fourth time we'd waited a few hours, and I got hard with no help, just by being turned on. So I think it's safe to say I'm getting legitimate, unassisted erections now.

I've also realized is that sex is not a performance...it's about two people connecting and having fun. I think it's going to take quite a while to unlearn all the crap that I absorbed from watching porn, which is not what sex is about at all. I know what to focus on now though; I really tried to make the session as slow and sensual as possible, with lots of caressing and touching. So, I think that it is just a matter of time and practicing real sex with real women.

dancing salsaI think I understand things better now: When you haven't eaten in a while, your brain starts releasing dopamine, which makes you crave food. This is a survival response to encourage you to seek out food, so the body doesn't starve to death. When you're full, your brain shuts this off and you no longer crave food. If you're constantly abusing this mechanism by binging on food, your brain lowers its sensitivity to dopamine and the associated triggers. This actually encourages you to binge more to get the same feeling. Porn works in the same way. Food and sex aren't bad, but if you binge, you'll upset your brain's natural dopamine levels and receptor count, and that's what causes addiction. I now think of porn as "junk food for the brain". Porn and junk food seem to have very similar brain effects.

[These next remarks were written in response to another man's request for advice.] I'm guessing that speed of recovery varies due to several factors:

  • how long you were watching porn/masturbating (both hours a day, and years).
  • how exclusive your porn/masturbating was compared to other activities (e.g. sex with real partners).
  • how much your porn viewing was escalating in terms of more hardcore and gonzo content.
  • use of other aids to enhance feeling of orgasm (e.g. toys, practices like auto-erotic asphyxiation, etc.).
  • other factors that affect dopamine levels (exercise, diet, supplements, depression, drugs etc.).
  • how "shameful" you perceive porn to be in your own mind (the more "shameful", the more dopamine is released, which compounds the problem).

Based on my experience, I'd guess that the following are the ways to recover listed in order of effectiveness:

  1. No porn, no masturbation, no orgasm.
  2. No porn, masturbation but no orgasm
  3. No porn, no masturbation, orgasm by other means (e.g. with a partner)
  4. No porn, masturbation to orgasm.
  5. Tapering off porn, no masturbation, no orgasm.
  6. Tapering off porn, masturbation but no orgasm
  7. Tapering off porn, no masturbation, orgasm by other means (e.g. with a partner)
  8. Tapering off porn, masturbation to orgasm.

I would imagine that the difference between the first and last methods in terms of average recovery time could be 2-3 months versus 2-3 years.

It's possible it takes only a few years of today's hyper-stimulating Internet porn to cause partner- or copulatory-impotence in some men. Strictly speaking the problem isn't porn; it's intense stimulation. Another ED sufferer wrote:

I find video chat the bigger problem. I think the dopamine "hit" is especially strong with an interactive prospective partner on the other end, since she seems even more like the real deal than a video. In the end, I developed the same problems performing on camera that I have with a real partner.

Many of the young men now reporting problems managed to get cable Internet ahead of the crowd, which could mean they are the vanguard of a much larger group. However, users of all ages are at risk. They report that they can always work up an erection if they "edge" to enough porn, but can no longer copulate with real partners. "Edging," like viewing eight to ten open windows of porn, constitutes intense stimulation, which far exceeds anything our ancestors ever continuously confronted—which probably explains why it causes the unwanted brain changes underlying their impotence.

In any case, the phenomenon is very real, if under-reported. One man pointed out:

The other night I was watching a program about prostitutes; I recognized some of the girls from porn movies. I found it interesting to gain the perspective from the girls in the sex industry, something I think is rare, at least in a nonjudgmental fashion. But anyway, they were speaking at one point that they could tell who the chronic porn masturbators were because nothing they could do could "inspire" the man to get it up. Think about it, even girls professionally trained in fulfilling male sex fantasy are unable to match the stimulation of pornography, including some girls who are actually in pornography. "Normal" women who just want our affections don't stand a chance.

Also at work in this phenomenon is the myth that frequent masturbation is vitalerect banana for reproductive health.  Men often realize their porn use is out of control and causing unwanted symptoms, but they've been misled that they must ejaculate very frequently. Their only choice seems to be to increase stimulation intensity.

In fact, however, a long, initially uncomfortable, time-out may be all they really need to restore normal function.

Also see this 2013 report of a guy, 23, which means he was about 8 years younger than the guy whose story is above. This means the 23-year old started on highspeed that much sooner: Age 24 - ED still lurking after a year. Reports like this latter one are unfortunately becoming more common.

Comments

Erectile Dysfunction

After a long trip I an say that only loving kisses and loving caresses will give me an erection, noting else. As soon there is a demand for sex only it is finished. Nothing will happen. We know it and let our body language decide what will happen, The brain is always wrong in this. And we feel great about it. Johan

I accuse masturbation and fantasy

This was a very inspiring article. I could always take or leave the porn, but daily masturbation with fantasy has been a part of my life for 20 years. I had problems with real women at the age of 17. For me, I think masturbation with fantasy is causing me problems, because there are no limits in fantasy. I'm starting to suspect it's as dangerous as porn for me. So I'm on day 12 of no masturbation, and no fantasy, and of course no porn now with the intention of going to 90. I made it to 50 once, but didn't see much of a change, but I'm still convinced that a reset is possible. Basically I have copulatory impotence. I never have any problems solo, but almost always have issues with real partner. His remarks about having zero libido when he first started this are exactly what I am experiencing. I can't think of a worst situation to be in than a man with no libido, but that's what I've been living through most of my life. But having zero libido and daily masturbation doesn't exactly add up eh, so I'm optimisitic.

I just remembered there was another article on here about masturbation being more common these days.

Sorry to hear you're

distressed. You're right that porn is not the problem; stimulation is. And if you're a good fantasizer Wink you can achieve the same results (or lack thereof) without the help of porn. The issue is a "numb brain," and it shows up all different ways in different people. My husband now ascribes his decades of chronic depression to years of frequent masturbation. (He didn't have much use for porn either, preferring his own fantasies about real women.)

The point is that the experiment you're making now could show you all kinds of things. I hope you're pleased with the results. Smile Be patient, and keep us posted. You read this article, right? "Protect Your Appetite for Pleasure" http://www.reuniting.info/are_you_numbing_your_appetite_for_pleasure

thanks for that link

A little late, but thanks for that link. Also to others who have been posting. It seems that for some people, 90 days or more is necessary to make any progress. For me it's been a 20 year addicition, so I'm expecting some progress after 90 days, but willing to try 1 year.

Let's hope

your brain surprises you with a faster recovery. I honestly think it may. I doubt the correlation works the way you expect. In any case, keep us posted. We're all learning together.

I can relate to this article

I can relate to this article and the things described, in a positive and negative way.
The negative, is that having encountered porn at a young age 10-11, I escalated and binged throughout all of my early teen years, not thinking it would be a problem to view it who knows how many times a day. I think personally, I've been a porn addict since the age of 14 (yes, during puberty, not a good time!) I constantly struggled to ejaculate with females throughout my teen years, when they touched my penis I could barely feel it and it wasn't that pleasurable causing all sorts of confusion for a kid going through puberty, believe me.

After a while, getting and maintaining an erection became increasingly difficult, I needed porn+my hand to basically get a full, complete erection,
this was when the addiction and de-sensitization really hit home with me and I realized I had a serious problem.

The positive (that I actually encountered this morning!) is that penis sensitivity/erection strength goes up A LOT when abstaining and avoiding porn, I stayed over at my girlfriends house last night and although we're currently taking it slow, she was rubbing my penis in bed and it felt incredable, the first time ever I've truely felt like that with a girl touching it. and its only been 10 days since I last viewed porn. (Around 7-8 since the last time I had an orgasm)

So I can 100% relate to this, its only been 7-8 days and already it feels much better!
In a way though. I guess its common sense-the less you touch it, the nicer it feels when its touched! :)

Has anyone else gotten to full reset?

I've been on a Porn/masturbation/orgasm fast for 10 days, and still no sign of change. I'm curious, are you the original author, Johannes? What is it like for you now? How long has it been? And are there others who have made it all the way to full reset? How long did it take for them?

I guess I'm just anxious to know that what I'm doing will actually work :(

Thanks all - JM

Well, I found my own answer(s)

Finally figured out how to get on the forum and found this:

http://www.reuniting.info/node/2952

My exact situation, but I'm a year older. It looks like there's hope. 3 years ago as an experiment I made it to 25 days. But that was before I realized how much this habit was destryoing my life. I'm pretty highly motivated now.

I'll be at 3 weeks when I go visit a girl away at school that I will be sleeping with for 2 days. I'll probably take it to orgasm there. Then I'll have another month before I see her again. And then another month before I see her again.

3 months, 3 2-day orgasm breaks, no porn, and no masturbation.
Hopefully that will get me to a good place.

JM

Here's the experience of another forum member (no pun intended)

I just wanted to let everyone know that after my abstinence project ended and the dust settled a bit, while things aren't exactly perfect yet, it seems like erection quality and frequency have actually improved, since not only I, but also my (even more) skeptical partner commented on it.

Not wanting to leap to any conclusions as to causality, but my forays into abstinence were the only thing that's been different, that could have caused this change, unless Doidge's "eventually revert back" just happened to coincide with my little project.

So I just wanted to lend my experience to support this process as a means to overcome porn-induced erectile dysfunction. Not sure about the neuroscientific model, but I guess that's not the *most* interesting thing for anyone who's come to this forum for the same reason that I came here.

I also saw someone talking about creating a new network for desirable sexual triggers etc. I think it might be simply a matter of letting the undesirable network [porn and porn fantasy/masturbation] lie fallow as much as possible, and only engaging your sexuality in real (loving) sex with someone real? Hopefully, even with more frequent sex I will still continue to improve if I continue to make a conscious effort not to engage in old fantasies, not masturbate at all etc.

It would be sad if further progress could only be made by greater still periods of abstinence, because the last few months have already been quite tough on both of us.

Flashbacks seem to continue, although after I dismiss them with mindfulness of the present moment, I tend to think of them as layers peeling away, being shed. Good luck forward, everyone!

E.D.. at 20..

Im so glad i found this post. im 20 about to turn 21 and ive had the same problems. i always counted on porn to stimulate myself. i lost my virginity at 18 and it was like he said. horrible. half limp. no desire. . through out the years ive had multiple partners resulting in the same result. limp but as soon as i get home and jump on the computer it was ok. im going cold turkey now that i know someone else has had the same prob. before i remember i used to be able to be aroused through seeing an attractive woman. as of now it is very hard to come by that. i have hope and here goes day 2 of no masturbation and hopefully i can restore my libido. i was always embarrassed by it..

"on a side note ive had used enhancing pills and had great sex but i want to be able to experience a natural sexual encounter"

beginning resensitization

well, i'm 22 and i've slowly noticed the progression to this point. Depression. self loathing for gradually watching more and more depraved pornography. and finally sexual dysfunction. can't get aroused. erections aren't as strong as they used to be. even premature ejaculation. but this article has inspired me and given me hope that there is a cure with self control and patience. i'm on day 5 of no pron-no masturbation-no climax. I have felt some cravings but i've managed to control them. I'm holding out for the 8 week minimum and longer if necessary. I have a long distance girlfriend and we haven't seen each other in months. I'm going out to see her over xmas and I want to be sure that I'm at my best for her. She is my motivation. But also I just want to rid my brain of this mental junk food. I want to be mentally healthy again. Thanks again for the post.

I can relate with the story,

I can relate with the story, I started having orgasims at the age of 13 with a real girl, I didn't penetrate, it was just dry humping. From then on, I was using swim suite magazines and mastubation. By the time I was 14, it was mastubation to hot girls in class in my head every single day. I was shy and not bold enough with girls at that time. I started watching porn as well at my uncles house, he had the porn channels on his cable tv, so I waited until every body slept to mastubate 2, 3, or even 4 times. Weather it was porn or my imagination, mastubation was a part of my life. Then I got my own DVDs and magazines, until I finally got consistent Internet where it was free. I was a chronic mastubator, I was looking for more hard core sex scenes for higher stimulation. I was health conscious so I used to take oatmeal and vitamin b complex to recover semen.

Porn really affected my sex life. When I was 18, I wasn't getting laid, and my friends always made jokes about it. By the time I was 19, I finally lost my virginity and had an orgasm with a real partner. I was very sexually active with my partner, but I was still mastubating to porn. I thought it helped me last longer while having sex. I used to quit porn for a week or may be two, but I always relapsed. Then it got to a point when I was 25, I just kept watching it with no restraint. I was still with my girlfriend at the time. I had other partners that I slept with with a condom, and I just couldn't ejaculate. I could only cum when I was bare back without a condom. That disturbed me a little bit. It also affected me because I wasn't much of a kisser with girls, I just wanted to get down with no tongue kissing.

The last straw was after I broke up with my girlfriend. when I was with a very hot girl, physically the girl of my dreams, she had a huge rack( and I love big tits) a very nice ass, hips and a small waist, cute face, she had everything I could ever want. I had quit mastubation for about 3 weeks at the time, it's like my dick used to get hard when it wanted to, not when I wanted it to. To keep the long story short, when it was time for action, I was soft and limp. On the bed was the hottest girl I had ever got naked, and I was limp and soft. That was so embarrassing, I have never in my life been so embarrassed. I never did get her naked after that night and quite frankly I didn't even push for it any longer, a week later, we stopped talking.

I stopped watching porn after that and it changed my life, I quit for a month, and I found myself more connected with my sexuality, I started getting aroused by real women, I was able to look I to their soul and tell them how I felt. I became more of a kisser, and realized that men and women have the same attraction towards each other. I could detect when a woman was attracted and was able to respond to it. I also learned about myself because I started to understand what I'm attracted to and what turned me on. I stopped looking at every woman in a sexual manner. Getting laid has become so easy for me now. I only lay with women that I want, and no longer using them as a piece of meat and just settling for just anything just because I was perverted.

I have not mastubated for 3 months now, something that has been in my life since I was 13, I am 27 yrs old right now and I feel great. I am more confident than ever. I am still rebooting though, I am staying away from swimsuite pictures and magazines, because that is what always led me back to a relapse. I can't count how many times I've gone 2 weeks, one month, or 3 weeks and relapsed again. This is my longest breakthrough and I'm not looking back. I'm still sexually active though, I'm still working on being more consistent using condoms. I've been doing good with it, but sometimes I have to take it off because it takes such a long time. Reading about people with similar stories has really inspired my progress.,I will continue for the rest of my life!!!!!!

Every day is small step to get to the real me

Well this might sound tad too weird...but i am still a virgin at 28..had one girlfriend (7yrs ago)...never had sex....I did have oral sex and am well endowed...for a matter of fact was never into watching porn or masturbation until the time I was in a relationship (6-8 months)..n ppl would get intimated in the locker room during tat time coz of my member's size!!...It never struck me until now tat I have missed out on intimacy,love,"real sex"...Was always a shy guy....but began experimenting without PMO..and found the benefits..."deepening of voice,increase in confidence,more muscular tight body"...but on every weekend since im living with my parents for about 2 yrs and there aint no girlfriend(every 6th or 7th day)....end up watching porn.... don't get me wrong...I don't need a gal at the moment for sex....I need someone to talk to,soothe me emotionally..I do get the signal from women...but its usually sexual(looking like a hunk can be detrimental most of the time!sigh)..I don't want that for a while..until I completely understand what being with a woman is, the humor,the ups n downs,the warmth of a smile, hugs n intimacy....

First thank you all

I really appreciate reading these post, they're really helping me feel better about my porn enduced ED and make me feel less alone about it. It took me some time to realize the condition i have. I never made the connection that (what i now realize) is a serious porn addiction was the reason for all of my frustration. It all started when i was 12 and had access to my own computer, once I was aware of masturbation I never really stopped, I never saw a reason too really, I never had any talk with anyone about it so i never thought it could have a negative outcome, and oh was i wrong. I would be on these sites for hours a day sometimes, and I did this at least once a day most of the time. Sometimes i would have to limit myself because i thought I ejaculated too much (4+ times a day). One thing im worried about is that my porn was specific (not going into detail) and im afraid that its going to take longer for my body to reset because of it. What really worries me is that since I started from the beggining of puberty that my body never gained the normal sense of sexual attraction, or what the normal sense should be. I'm worried that maybe my body will never go to reset because there is nothing to reset too. I'm 17 now, and I lost my virginity when i was 15, which is another reason why i never connected my problem to this since I had no problems a few years ago. I've gone a few weeks without porn or masturbation until my girlfriend came over about a week ago, so i loaded up all my sites so i could try and preform. Sadly I gave up because I was feeling more hard than normal, but i still didn't feel like i would be able to stay hard for her. It has gotten a little better since i stopped master baiting every night about a 6 weeks ago but there isn't much improvement. I know its going to take a lot longer for real results, which I hate because this girl Im with now is hotter than most girls i get with and shes a freak, which i like. I just hate the situation of having a sexy girl in front of you, and not being able to preform well. It's a metaphoric glass wall stopping me from being with her. Anyway, thank you for your time reading this, and if theres anything you know that can help please let me know. Thanks again for your time and Ill keep you informed if there are any improvements on the months ahead.

Speed to orgasm....

Try doing it quicker.....
Online encounters can last for several hours, way longer than the natural biological norm. The unnaturally long delays affect your bodily workings with time.
Avoid the porn and do it as fast a possible for a couple of days/months! Like some types of animals do it in the wild...
This re-sets your brain-stimulation-body-stimulation workings.

Regards

Sober for 30 days

3.20.14
I am sober for 30 days thanks to the original poster. I always felt alone and found it difficult to talk to anyone about it. I still do. This forum has given me strength to stay clean for 30 days. The last time I had 90 days success was about 5 yrs ago. The key for me to remember is to make a conscious effort never to visit a online porn sites again. Thank you and best of luck to others

03.28.14
Though I have not visited any porn photo and video sites, I have been watching riske videos on pole dancers and girls in bikinis etc. In my mind I tell myself its not porn. And to be honest, this is so much tamer to what I used to view, that it never turned me on before as it was too soft. I also seem to have an abundance of time on my hand. At the time that I quit, I was watching porn or searching for new content almost 1-2hrs a day, some days uptp 4, usually late at night. So I do have a lot of new time on my hands, and instead am trying to watch regualr movies to fill the time

4.7.14 - I caved big time. Went out, got trashed, triggered a sensation which made me really horny, but i was alone, and thought about a porn video that I recalled, went home watched it as well as browse several other sites for the next 2 days. Blahhh... Now I have to set a time and date and start over. This is really difficult. In the past I have quit smoking cigs, and recreational designer drugs, but my 30yr porn habit is really hard to kick.