Porn Withdrawal Symptoms?

Submitted by ncand on
Printer-friendly version

About 3 weeks ago I had a heart to heart with my girlfriend about pornography. I told her up front that I was addicted to porn and that I watch it almost every single day. It made her so sad that I promised that I would not look at porn again. Surprisingly, I have upheld that promise and I am 3 weeks clean.

However, about two weeks ago I started having trouble with my nervous system. At night, I would constantly "jolt" out of sleep causing me to have very few hours of sleep. And in just the past few days I have felt so much stress and anxiety in my chest and stomach. There is nothing drastic going on in my life, it just seems that I am anxious and stressed for no apparent reason.

My question is do any of you think that this is a result of me stopping looking at pornography? The reason why I am hesitant to connect the two is because I honestly don't conciously miss looking at porn. I am glad and relieved that I think I "kicked the habit". So, if I have no regrets for stopping looking at porn, could this still be the reason that I feel stressed and anxious?

If these are indeed withdrawal symptoms that I am experiencing from not looking at porn, then how long will they last? They are driving me crazy. I can't sleep, I'm eating less and I feel so stressed out for no reason.

Please help me :)



My body and mind has been flipping out too. Ive gotten sick twice. Stomach problems, appetite, headache, lost weight. Its a true withdrawal and different people respond differently. the good thing is that when I have seen my friends recover from booze they are pretty motivated and bright for a while, at least until they pick up their next distraction (sometimes healthier). One of my friends used to be overweight, when he stopped his addiction he started going to the gym and got all buff. hang in there, it sucks, but worth it.

The symptoms come across as

having a too high level of dopamine. As far as I know that is temporary; your body has to adapt. As a test you could ask yourself if the porn was very stimulating (like kinky or risqué stuff) and that you now have less intense experience of sexuality. In that case it could be adjustment in dopamine levels.

The stress and anxiety I recognize. You can take it easy for a while (avoid stress in your life) and start to do sport. Also, if you're into that, the emotions that are coming up give you an opportunity for emotional release.

Good luck!

Actually sounds normal

Someone here mentioned that stress can be a natural response to any change, even if the change is positive. Inn addition, I think porn/masturbation is often used to self-medicate for anxiety or insomnia, so when you stop doing those things you're going to experience a backlash until your system has a chance to get back into balance.

I'm sorry that the transition is not much fun, though!


Thanks for your responses, but is it strange that I don't consciously miss porn and I am still having these effects?

And how long will these symptoms last? I still masturbate regularly...


I'm pretty certain you can get withdrawal symptoms from any number of things without consciously missing the thing, since withdrawal is more a physiological than a mental phenomenon. For example if you were drinking caffeine a lot and stopped because you went on vacation or something, you could get a withdrawal headache without even knowing why it was happening.

As for how long it will last, I don't know. Most people here are trying to give up masturbation at the same time, and I think they've experienced withdrawal symptoms for varying periods of time, from a week or so up to a couple of months.

BTW, I've enabled you to blog in case you want to keep us updated on your progress.

All kinds of withdrawal symptoms

are indeed possible. As Amari says, frequent orgasm can lead to a *physiological* phenomenon. Here's a blog on this subject:

First, have a look at others' withdrawal symptoms, so you know you're normal.

Second, emphasize activities that will help balance your brain chemistry: meditation, affectionate touch, exercise, time in nature, creative pursuits, time with pets, service to others.

Third, if you're still masturbating, then you're still on the roller coaster of dopamine highs and lows. So you can't find out what equilibrium feels like. How would your girlfriend like to try karezza for a few weeks? Wink

Finally, thanks for making the effort for her. You sound like a very shiny man...whatever you choose to do in the future.

Thanks a lot for your quick

Thanks a lot for your quick response. These symptoms are really driving me crazy.

I guess what worries me is that these symptoms aren't related to porn and I just have some kind of chemical imbalance. But I feel that the time gap between stopping the porn and the symptoms are too close for coincidence, no?

So what is equilibrium, then? Surely its not orgasming ever again. How can
I maintain my drive at a safe level so that sexual experiences are pleasurable but I don't suffer a "hangover" afterwards?


From what scientific and anecdotal evidence we have, any time you have an orgasm, there are physiological effects that play themselves out for up to a couple of weeks. So by a true definition of equilibrium (things staying the same over time) the only way to achieve it would be to never orgasm at all. What Marnia's approach would recommend is never "going for" orgasm, although it will still happen occasionally. You can learn how to enjoy non-orgasmic types of intimacy, including intercourse, but it does take some time, as well as a cooperative partner.

As you've observed though, there's a lot of territory between never having another orgasm and being addicted to porn, and that territory is yours to explore. However, it's true that you may find the porn withdrawal easier if you also abstain from masturbation for some period of time.

I really don't know

Some people seem to feel the effects of an orgasm even more after abstaining for a while, but others have said that a single orgasm after months of abstinence by no means set their recovery back to the beginning. It might vary from person to person, so I think the best you can do is experiment.

My experience with porn

I used to watch porn a lot, but quit a few years ago when I accidently found out that it has a detrimental effect on my mind.

My computer broke down and for 3 weeks I couldn't watch my 'collection'. In those 3 weeks the urge to masturbate was way less than before and I felt mentally less restless. That is a nice effect in itself.

But the big insight came when I started to watch porn again: at first I didn't like it at all!! All my previous favorite movies seemed so fake and devoid of any real connection. The only things I could stand were the things that were as natural and simple as possible. Then, again a few weeks later I suddenly realized that I had started to seek out ever more extreme stuff and with a shock I realized that porn is not only addictive, but also has a strong pull toward extremer stuff. That moment I decided that porn is mind poison and that I wouldn't have any of it any more.

On this site there are a few articles of Marnia that confirm that porn is very addictive and pulls you toward ever more intense stimulation. It was nice to find a scientifically based comfirmation about what I had found out before by accident.

my poen withdrawl symptoms

I quit using porn & masturbation 5 weeks ago. I got into real trouble with porn when I started having problems with ED. I found ED the most humiliating experience of my life. When my ED was really bad I withdrew from my wife both physically & emotionally & turned to porn. What a nightmare ! Porn actually made my ED worse. I got help with my ED but never told the counsler about my porn addiction until recently. Fortunatly my wife & I have been doing the sensate focusing exercises for sometime & since I quit using porn my sexual performance has improved dramatically. My main symptoms are anxiety & trouble sleeping &, intermittent cravings & depression which can be quite bad. I have told my wife everything & am seeing a counsler. We continue to have sex & do lots of bonding behaviors. Our love life has been great. I do not have problems with flash backs or fantasies when I am making love to my wife. I am with her 100% when we make love. I still feel really guilty because I have cravings for porn even though my wife & I are doing great. My wife & I have been married for 38 years & Porn could never compare to the intimate closeness I have with my wife. So how long will I be plagued by these withdrawl symptoms.


glad you two are sorting things out.

It may have escaped your notice that orgasm, even with your wife and lots of bonding behaviors, is only the first part of a longer cycle. One of the classic ways that recovery cycle manifests in our lives is as *cravings*. This is because lower than normal dopamine makes us feel as if something we need for our happiness is missing - and then the brain proposes something that will make dopamine surge (porn being a familiar one for you). See

So my thought is that you may be orgasming too frequently. Can you try daily bonding behaviors and some gentle intercourse *without* orgasm? (You can just lie still while connected in a side lying position.) You might even try that combo for three weeks. Then orgasm, and see if you notice a difference between that third week as compared with the two weeks after you return to orgasm. I think you'll see that the cravings fade in that third week, but return during the two weeks after you orgasm.

Please help, insomnia is getting to me

I have not looked at porn for over 2 months now and have not had a problem so far stopping. I'm 35 and probably started looking at it when i was 14 and viewed it at least 5 times a week weather it be on computer, video or magazine. When I quit I never even thought about withdraws but their is definitely something going on with me. It started by me waking up around 3 or 4, being wide awake and not being able to go back to sleep, and sometimes me being in a pool of sweat with my heart racing. Now I cant fall asleep so I when to the doctor and got blood work done and everything came back healthy. Then after a month of not sleeping I thought maybe porn has withdraws and stumbled across this web site (thankfully). I'm still having sex with my wife about twice a week and i've noticed that for 2 nights afterwards I sleep a little better, and I've masterbated maybe 3 times. Is this hurting my efforts to over come these withdraw symptoms, how long is this going to last, and is their anything I can do because sleep aids arnt doing anything. I really need help! I've been tempted to view porn as an experiment to see if I would sleep but dont want to let myself down because I'm proud of my accomplishment.


on your accomplishment. It IS something to be proud of.

Have you tried daily bonding behaviors. sound corny, but they really work.

Daily meditation can also help, because it trains you to relax on command. Any meditation will do, but here's one based on "The Relaxation Response" book:

Sweet dreams! Nighty-night.


I have suffered from insomnia too. Is your mind racing while you are trying to sleep. Does it feel like ocd, anxiety, depression underlying it?


My mind will not shut off, I can lay in bed for what can seem like an eternity and not fall asleep. I have tons of anxiety (not about porn, just about not sleeping) when I go to bed, but I dont seem to have any real depression. I'm averageing about 3 to 4 hours a night if im lucky. Iv'e tried tylenol pm, exedrin pm, nyquil, melitonin, alka seltzer night time, and 12.5 ml of ambien cr and NOTHING HELPS. What have you done to help your insomnia if their is anything?

Thanks for responding, It helps to know im not in this alone!

Yes, in fact I have a normal

Yes, in fact I have a normal workout routine I've been extremely consistant with for almost 5 years now that has always taken place at 6 a.m., but for obvious reasons i have not had alot of energy here lately.

Have you tried

karezza (sex without the goal of orgasm)? Sounds weird, but my husband had insomnia and couldn't sleep with another person, when we met.

Within a very short time, the daily affection, combined with avoiding the roller coaster ride of orgasm, seems to have relaxed his nervous system. He began sleeping really well. Still does. This article suggests why this other approach can soothe the nervous system in a way that conventional sex doesn't:

If you want to try this approach, you need to stick with it for a good three weeks (with daily bonding behaviors), in order to see if it helps. Details in Cupid's Poisoned Arrow.


Well, I tried karezza last night and found it extremely hard not to achieve an orgazm, in fact i was unsucsesfull, but I didnt tell my wife what I was doing and after her climax she made the comment that her orgasm was the most intense ever. Then I told her about karezza and first thing this morning she was on-line seeking information, so I think she is very intrigued by it. Sadly I got very little sleep again last night :(

I wish their was a pill I could take!!!!!!

Thanks for sharing your experience

I achieved similar results when I tried to switch instantly to lovemaking without orgasm. Wink That is why the program in the back of Cupid encourages two weeks of bonding behaviors before intercourse enters the picture!

I think your wife is going to be very disappointed in what she find online about karezza, though. True karezza calls for *both* partners to focus on the intimacy of the connection, and very gentle intercourse...not on orgasm. Sad

Stanley Bass's book is an exception: But I spoke with him on the phone two days ago...and even he said gentle intercourse without orgasm as the goal for either better for everyone in the long run.

The experiment I was suggesting to improve your sleep was nightly bonding behaviors to soothe your nervous system (gentle, non-orgasmic intercourse can ultimately fit right in with that). So be optimistic about your sleeping. I really think they could help. Did you read this post:

Wishing you zzzzzzzz'z...

Also, even if you couldn't sleep, at least you could reflect on being a great lover (as the world defines one currently)! Wink

The Anxiety..

The Anxiety..
Hello ALL, over the last year or so, i have discovered i as well have a issue with porn and MB'ing.. It all really started about 3 years ago, when i started having really bad anxiety and was fairly heavy into Porn, i was away at school, all alone and did not have much social interation other then school peers, I did have a Girlfriend, but she lived in another province with her parents while i was away at school.. anyway.. we had are troubles.. and she cheated on me, and then we got back together.. but there was always that anxiety about her cheating on me, so while at school and having a long distance relationship with someone i didnt really trust, i used porn alot.. i didnt go out very much at all, i usually just sat home.. so one night while i was on my computer i had a panic attack.. very bad.. i went to the emergency room, because i thought i was dieing.. .. well long story short.. they said it was anxiety.. and ever since then i have been dealing with anxiety off and on.. Me and My Girl broke up and i had a brief time with no anxiety, anyway.. last year.. i moved to a new city and started into the porn again.. and my anxiety shot through the roof.. it took me awhile.. to realize that porn was casuing it, so i started to stop.. and noticed huge benefits in quitting.. now over the course of a year.. i feel like i have been in the nasty cycle, where i slip, stop, slip, stop, usually like 3 week intervals... Now the problem i am having.. is that i experiecnce INNNNNNTTTTENNNSE anxiety, Fatigue, depression, anger when ever i Act out.... Its starting to really mess with my head.. Because i would say over the past 6 months i may have watched porn like 5 times.. but every time i do and orgasm i have this anxiety, that ruins me for days... Now, i'm pretty much scared to ever have a Orgasm ever again.. I think i have devoleped a Phobia to having a ORgasm.. its causing me alot of distress.. can i expect to always have this type of emotions, with every Orgasm i ever have again??? its

Hi Live

Sorry you've been having such a rough time. I'll enable you to blog so you can start your own thread.

Quick question, do you ever orgasm without porn? Some men find that the neurochemical hangover is milder if they masturbate slowly and sensually without fantasy. Not easy, but perhaps worth a try.

On this site, we often talk about the benefits of passing up orgasm as a way of strengthening inner balance, but that can be really tough to sustain without a partner.

Some people find that some of the solo exercises from various traditions are helpful in moving sexual energy around without setting off the orgasm-escalation cycle. Here are some wiki articles that might be interesting...or not.

Solo Practices

Favorite Meditations


I hear you

I have had a similar experience. It probably has a lot to do with depression tied into your cycle somehow. Ive had a brutal year myself with all of those symptoms you mentioned. My anxiety started getting better, but I would get huge waves of anxiety or depression. Right now, after practicing abstaining with time away from porn/masturbation and a slip or binge here and there for about 9 months, I can tell a difference in my withdrawal symptoms. It seems like its some kind of POIS and sometimes these symptoms are really bad. Also, depression is mixed in there too where I have severe symptoms of depression.

Like youve discovered that abstaining alters your anxiety symptoms, you need to keep going and find ways to get at this even more. There are a ton of good habits that Im sure you are exploring, but make these activities a big part of your life. Seriously, little things like exercise are big things for us if done consistently and rigorously. Also, it would help to find some cognitive techniques to get you in the habit of thinking well. A good therapist can help unravel some of those knots in your head from your trauma with your ex. Yeah, that stuff can put you under a spell like nobody's business.

Hang in there, some of us get crazy symptoms like this for some reason, but if they are getting better for me, then they will get better for anyone. Depression can be gnarly.


I've tried to stop a few times, but I'm being really proactive this time around, wiping everything off my computers and hard drives, removing internet links, and cutting off activities that act as a gateway to my porn. I've been into some really hardcore stuff, and I find I've been desensitized to normal things that I now find very sexually basic, which makes masturbating without porn very hard, almost non-existent. I haven't started cheating like I normally do, which has been great, but for the last few days, all my dreams have been sexual. I even had a non-sexual dream where in the middle of it, I was suddenly looking up the porn I used to, and then it just continued with the rest of the dream. It's getting weird, and I don't want to go to a rehab facility, but I'm wondering how do I reboot what turns me on?