What is it like for a guy to go for weeks at a time without orgasm? Would you go crazy with cravings? Would you be unable to sleep?
A few years ago I read the web site of a man who chose, of his own free will, to go through life celibate. Not for religious reasons, but just because he "felt better" that way. At the time I had a hard time imagining how anyone could feel that way, and wondered if the guy had abnormal hormone levels.
A year ago, someone recommended the Reuniting site to me. After reading some articles, including one that challenged readers to try celibacy, and another that challenged readers to give up porn, I decided to try both (I love challenges). And so here I am, more than a year later, and still (mostly) on the abstinence wagon, and even more so on the no-porn wagon. So, what's it been like?
Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it hundreds of times. - Mark Twain
It's been surprisingly easy, for me. I guess I was never really addicted to porn, so that part was easy. In the last year I spent one night watching videos on a site that is something like an X-rated YouTube - apparently people can upload videos, but don't get paid, or don't get paid much. So it is just people enjoying themselves, having a good time. Quite different from the usual porn sites. Other than that, I've peeked at porn sites about twice, to see how it would affect me. I watched for a minute or so, shrugged with lack of interest, and moved on. (To those who do have a porn addiction: I don't recommend that you "take a peek." Know your limits...)
"Quitting" the orgasms has been pretty easy, too. I don't think I'm undersexed or anything like that. I have been frustrated with insufficient sex throughout most of my marriage, and before I took the challenge, I was masturbating to orgasm almost daily. I think what made it easy for me was my attitude. From the beginning, I've regarded this abstinence from orgasm thing as an adventure, an opportunity to explore relatively unfamiliar territory - not as a burden, something I "have" to do, or something to feel guilty about if I slip up, fail, or give up. And, surprise, surprise! Life without orgasms is not a dull, lifeless desert - there are prairie dog colonies, pretty cactuses, and beautiful, wind-sculpted sand dunes to enjoy out here. (Ok, I'll leave the metaphors to Josef from now on.
And there are many new friends on this site to share the journey with together.
So, what's it like...?
My craving for orgasms seems to peak rather consistently about four days after my last orgasm. If I had sex with my wife on Sunday, I would be uncomfortably horny on Thursday. Occasionally it would be quite unpleasant - a skin-crawly, wired feeling, like I had had way too much caffeine. On those occasions, it would be hard to get to sleep. Orgasm from masturbation seems to cause much milder cravings. (There is an article on this site which says that orgasm from intercourse releases four times as much prolactin as orgasm from masturbation.) Since I haven't had regular sex for several years... it's been pretty easy to get past day four.
After day four, the craving subsides. It doesn't go away entirely, and probably never will, no matter how long I go without orgasm, but right now (a month since last orgasm) it is quite subtle and doesn't even deserve to be called a "craving." It's just a tiny signal from "down there" that I don't even notice, if I'm busy with anything. Last night, for example, as I was going to bed, I thought for a few seconds about whether I wanted to masturbate. I quickly dismissed the idea. No interest, not worth the time or energy, not worth ending the current adventure and starting over again.
This morning, I had a case of "morning wood." Now, actually, a woodie doesn't necessarily equate to horniness or craving an orgasm, but a woodie does intrude on a guy's consciousness, and in this case I indulged myself with a few thoughts...
I imagined enjoying Karezza with my wife. I wondered if my declining interest in orgasms might be followed by a declining interest in sex of any kind (who knows... but I'm not really worried...). I thought about masturbating again - this time I thought about it a bit longer. I could use my hand, but that would be kind of boring. I could use a sex toy that I rather like. But that would need some preparation, and by the time I was ready, my erection would be mostly gone. And I'm much more sensitive when flaccid than when erect. Attempting to use the sex toy when flaccid would have a high probability of causing an unwanted orgasm - it's happened several times before. So I ended up doing nothing, and the woodie eventually went away.
Just as it ended, I felt a distinct discharge or release sensation - not at all orgasmic, and there were no ejaculatory muscle contractions. I reached down and... slippery. It was a bit of precum. I've observed for many years that precum, for me, only appears after an erection subsides. But this is the first time I've ever felt its release. What an interesting discovery, which I might have missed, if I hadn't embarked on this orgasmic celibacy adventure!
Well, I think it's kind of interesting, and I read with great interest the occasional similar post by others. So, to anyone who may have read this far, I hope you didn't find it too boring.
Update, 11-15-2008: My last orgasm was August 5, and last masturbation without orgasm was about four days later. Before then, I was still masturbating, usually without intending to have an orgasm. But once a month or so I would get too close to the edge and have an orgasm. Although the masturbation was pleasant, it didn't seem worth the (considerable) time I was spending doing it, which was taking time away from sleep. Also, I didn't like slipping and then going through another hangover cycle.
When I originally wrote this article, I had already pretty much decided to give up masturbation and orgasms for good. Around that time, Persephone wrote some posts, Hold the orgasm, please, Day 4 Tsunami Recovery, and hangover which tells the story of how she had a wonderful lovemaking session with a guy, and then he got creepy in the next few days. Very dramatic. It strengthened my resolve to stay away from orgasms. Although I don't think I get creepy like that after orgasm, I don't want to risk it. So, no more orgasms for me, thankyouverymuch!
At this point in time, my mind and body have gotten used to celibacy. Most nights when I go to bed, the thought of masturbating doesn't even cross my mind. I still get erections sometimes, and I still get horny sometimes, though not as intensely and not as often as before. I don't expect to have difficulty avoiding masturbation indefinitely. I don't expect to have any more orgasms, except perhaps accidentally, while trying to practice karezza sometime in the future, or due to a dream orgasm (but those are very rare for me).
This might be of interest to those with ADD: In early August, I nearly ran out of my ADD meds. I stopped taking them, and I've been doing pretty well without them. It seems plausible to me that celibacy helps with ADD, by reducing the distractions of horniness and other orgasm hangover effects.
Update, 07-26-2009: I've now gone nearly a year without any masturbation. I've been as celibate as the Dalai Lama! It continues to be quite easy. Really there is not much new to report about how I feel and so on. I expect to go the rest of my life without masturbating or deliberately going for orgasm, because I like the way I feel, free from orgasm hangovers. I still hope to connect with someone - could be my present (estranged) wife, could be someone else - and enjoy practicing karezza with her.
In the last year, I've had about four "dry" dream orgasms (three of them in one dream!), and one nocturnal emission. The nocturnal emission may have been due to some combination of: tight underwear, less than four hours of sleep for a couple nights (seems to increase horniness and "morning wood"), an argument with my wife, and eating half a bag of Wheat Thins before going to bed. In each case (especially with the three orgasms in one dream), there was increased horniness starting about four days later and lasting a few days. The most recent one (the nocturnal emission) actually made me feel quite relaxed and less horny for the first few days after.
As for porn - A few months ago I found a porn DVD and decided to watch it before throwing it away, just to see what my reaction to it would be. It was sort of like the joke about Playboy Magazine: "I buy it for the articles." Well, when I watched the DVD, I fast-forwarded through the sex scenes and just watched the dialog. The sex scenes were just too boring and uninteresting. Of course, the dialog wasn't much better.
At this point I'm still interested in the subject of human sexuality and relationships (thus I hang out on this forum a lot), but I have NO interest in porn. I just don't like the feeling of being sexually aroused, without a partner to share those feelings with. And if I had a partner, I wouldn't need porn anyway.
To summarize, these are the reasons why I choose, very willingly, to avoid porn, masturbation and orgasms:
2. Masturbation without orgasm can be pleasant and longer lasting, but it leaves me feeling unsatisfied when I stop. It also feels meaningless - no emotional connection with a partner - and ultimately just feels like a huge waste of time.
3. I don't like the orgasm hangover, which for me is the "spent" feeling immediately afterward, and the compulsive "wanting more" feeling that can come minutes, hours or days later.
4. I don't like being distracted by horniness. Avoiding orgasms, by itself, seems to go a long way toward alleviating my ADD, by minimizing the distraction of horniness and avoiding the neurochemical roller coaster caused by orgasms. For the last year I have rarely taken my ADD meds (dexamphetamine), and have been doing very well. I took the meds a couple times when the ADD flared up (for reasons probably unrelated to orgasms) and found that the meds really helped. So maybe meds + celibacy would work even better than either alone. But I choose to avoid the meds as much as I can. The meds raise my blood pressure.
5. I like being in control of myself, as opposed to being driven around by my primitive brain.
Update, 08-31-2012: I got started on this no-PMO path five years ago, and haven't masturbated at all for four years now! Still very much committed to staying on this path.
My wife and I got back together 2 1/2 years ago, and for the last 1 1/2 years the marriage has been quite peaceful and pleasant. From the beginning of our reuniting, we started practicing karezza, at my request, plus some conventional sex, at her insistence. (She still hasn't really bought into karezza, but I guess she goes along with it just to humor me.) We have been practicing karezza exclusively for the last year and a half. I've just politely but firmly declined to have orgasms. I think avoiding orgasms has accounted for the peacefulness of the last 1 1/2 years. Before then, when I would have an orgasm, irritation or arguments would often follow in the next few days. So, that's one more reason for me to avoid orgasms.