Empirical evidence for post-orgasm hangover?

Submitted by TommyMaddox on
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I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this but I didn't see another forum that looked more appropriate.

Anecdotally I buy what Marina is selling. :) I can see how the dopamine cycles have caused a lot of yo-yo'ing for me when it comes to sexuality and I recently experienced a period where I didn't orgasm for about 5 weeks and it felt like the most emotionally stable period I've had as long as I can remember.

However, there's a logical/intellectual part of my brain that says "prove it" and wants to know that this isn't all placebo effect for me. Marina has talked a lot about the changes hormonally and while I have no reason to believe she's wrong, there also seems to be somewhat of a lack of evidence for her theory. I've only read Cupid's Poisoned Arrow so I might be missing something but I'd love to see studies or some further documentation that what she says is happening truly is happening.

The other part that my logical/intellectual brain still is having difficulty processing is around the advice we've heard so much about how frequent sex is good for your health. Almost every article that I've seen about sex and health states the positive effects of having sex frequently. Is it the case that all of these authors are wrong or misguided? Would love to hear any thoughts here. Again, I'm not doubting Marina but rather just looking for more support for what I feel might be a revolutionary theory.

That's a good question

There's a lot of evidence actually...but it's indirect. So far no one is publishing any research on the lingering neurochemical cycle after orgasm...except in animals. The reasons for this are discussed in a recent post:

Forbidden Sex Research: The Orgasm Cycle

Here's a rehash of the existing evidence:
The Passion Cycle

There's a debate raging on this very issue on two Psychology Today blogs, by the way:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/women-who-stray/201007/watch-out-wom... (see also my reply in a link there)

Oh, and we would totally agree that sex is good for you. The question is whether it's really the orgasm that furnishes the benefit to health, or whether gentle intercourse furnishes the same (or greater) benefits without orgasm. Of course, no one has investigated intercourse without orgasm as a health benefit - so we're all left to make our own experiments. There *are* studies showing benefits from close trusted companionship and affectionate touch, so the "benefits from sex" studies may be confounding those factors with the orgasms that usually accompany sex.

Finally, my name is actually "MarNIa." Smile

Thanks Marnia (my apologies

Thanks Marnia (my apologies on that...I knew a Marina from before which is why this is hard for me!)

I've read the above articles and it seems like there is some evidence but it's still very sparse. That's no one's fault of course as it's just a matter of these studies not being done yet (and as you point out that's a shame). However my question is when contemplating a major shift in how we relate to our partners (moving from frequent conventional sex to Kareeza and infrequent orgasm) it seems wise to have as much evidence as possible that this truly is a positive change. So far most of the evidence appears to be anecdotal and that's certainly better than nothing. I went through a period of extended abstinence recently (about 5 weeks) and felt very stable emotionally and quite connected to my partners.

So in the end, I have strong inclinations that all this stuff is right on. However, it would be good to have more verification, especially as it comes to fluctuating hormone levels. There is a part of me that suspects that some of all this could be due to placebo effect, which tends to be very strong for many people. I'd love to know that when it comes to something as important as how I'm relating to my partner (physically and otherwise) that I'm basing it off of more than just possible placebo effect.

I really do hope that there are some more studies done to give us an even stronger foundation to base these theories on.

I share your hope

Unfortunately, science can't always supply the answers we'd like on our schedule. The connections between condomless sex and AIDS and between smoking and cancer were anecdotal long before research made the reasons more evident.

It may seem wise to wait, but, in fact, we sometimes make our lives a lot more difficult than they need to be by waiting.

About the placebo effect...I see your point, but it's curious that observers have been pointing this out for thousands of years. And it's also curious that primates often use sexual activity (without climax) for bonding and social reasons. Maybe we've been doing it "wrong" for a long time....

Slight clarification

Orgasms aren't "bad." But the neurochemical recovery period can be problematic for many. And sexual superstimuli can have effects on the brain that promote binging.

If it weren't for these little problems, orgasm would be great. Wink

And don't forget

even once the studies that may indicate that frequent long-term orgasm may have negative effects come out, there will be plenty of other "studies" suddenly come up that will try to prove the opposite in some way, 'cause there would be plenty of cash available for anyone wanting to disprove the hypothesis.
I don't think public opinion would be so tough on the idea, once people hear the evidence and link it with their own experience... everyone trusts science!?

Personal conclusions

It may be all anecdotal and not (yet?) scientific, but I have been clutching at straws for a while, and the "reboot" is the last one as far as I'm aware.
Been porn-free for almost two years with no appreciable performance improvement from the perspective of my partner, and so I'm on a schedule to deliver or leave.
I'm concerned with the mysticism, politicising and even eroticising I see here about what abstinence is supposed to do, etc. But I appreciate Marnia's efforts to maintain a scientific neurochemical basis for these clinically untested hypotheses.

But what exactly is the claim? Doidge simply stated vaguely that after a period of no porn, the affected men bounced back. From Marnia's book and this site, I infer a more precise paraphrasing: A period of abstinence from all ejaculation, orgasm, pornography and as much as possible from sexual fantasies and wet dreams is supposed to return you to normal sexual functioning and libido.
The required period is first given as 8-12 weeks but sometimes suggested to require a period of up to a year and a half? And of course there's no guarantee that even a year and a half's abstinence will automatically return you to normal sexual functioning.

Am I correct in my understanding?

Of course there are a lot of individual issues that confuse the picture, but

So I'd like to know from as many men as possible, who think they have suffered from porn induced E.D. / "copulatory impotence" due to pornography use AND who have totally recovered and are presently satisfying their woman sexually (according to her, assuming she was (the one) complaining before your recovery)....how long did it take for you to recover, and what was the process like, in terms of what precautions and efforts you took? What constraints have you currently placed on yourself?

I'm afraid that there won't be anyone to support the claim in a strong sense, in the sense of going from someone else's disapproval to approval of their sexual performance. I hope I'm wrong, because it would certainly encourage my efforts (currently two and a half weeks into abstinence, for the third time in a row -- even unacceptably poor sexual performance is apparently hard to reject -- of course I was the one who lost control in each instance), but I'm not seeing any bloggers claiming great successes, only barely hanging on... I find it strange, I was able to quit porn instantly without relapses, and yet it's apparently had this massively debilitating effect on me. And although there may be a tendency to escalate, I think it's vastly exaggerated...I would watch fairly hardcore stuff but I think that was more of a "good fit" than a development.

Anyway, all the invisible role models who have walked this road (specifically recovering from lowered libido/performance anxiety/ED due to porn) before may never have visited this site, or left it behind since they moved on to bigger and better things. But, Marnia has quoted a couple in her articles, without giving names or usernames. If that's so, perhaps you could invite them to come back for a visit and offer some words of encouragement?

In general I would assume that people who have conquered their issues would be more inclined to share than those who are still struggling, but it doesn't seem that way. Of course maybe that's just human nature. But it almost makes me question whether anyone ever really conquers their demons or just learn to live with them (and find someone else who can live with these demons and carry only tolerable ones of their own).

I hope I'm not coming across as abrasive, but I think it's important to be as precise as possible and distinguish warranted claims from speculation. In other words, I'm seconding the call for, if not empirical evidence, then at least reports of experiences of completion, not just experiences of apparently maybe moving in the right direction.

Please don't hesitate to call my attention to recovery factors which I may be ignoring, although I find it hard to believe I could have a more stringent (and at the same time plausible) approach to the abstinence-to-reboot program suggested here. Admittedly, I'm regularly getting stimulation from physically being near my gf, just focusing on being present in the moment and avoiding fantasy scripts at those times. I think it must be harder to do this in a relationship, but harder to realise what's really required outside one.

So, back to my post subject - personal conclusions: vm22, jake, sheep's clothing, everyone else - what have you concretely gained? What can you be sure that you can DO now that you've completed a period of abstinence of how long?

I don't want to discuss hypothetical studies that may or may not be performed - science is important, and it is difficult to get right. I *am* trying it out for myself - I have nothing else to try left and I don't want to lose the girl I love. I don't want to discuss the morality of it, I don't think there's anything wrong with it. The concept of suprastimuli is just too strange, evolutionary psychology is inherently so speculative and plays into the hands of any good storyteller. These topics I could maybe discuss in a different topic, but let's stick to OP's request for empirical evidence, even if we must make do with personal anecdotes rather than clinical trials.

Thanks for reading and replying. Please let go of any inclination to answer defensively - I think we can agree that these are things we know very little about, so asking questions clearly is important.

Your totally entitled to

Your totally entitled to question. As for you own situation though, have you considered:

- The pressure your girlfriend is putting on your could be contributing to your problem performing as you perceive it.

- The fact that your girlfriend doesn't expect you to perform may be stopping her from getting off.

- Not many guys will admit to this, but I will. There's some women I couldn't get off. There I said it. No matter what I tried, nada. Funny thing is I've used the same techniques on other women and they got off no troubles. I thought this was weird and I asked some girls about it. Sure enough. Some women can only get off in certain positions, with certain stimulation, what time of the month it is, if the wind is blowing to the north-east etc. For us guys, it's a bit like dismantling a bomb, without the blueprints and every bomb is slightly different. Blum 3 But our egos are on the line so not many guys really talk about this.

If you read any of Nancy Friday's books, one thing becomes very clear. If a woman doesn't want to get off or hasn't learned how to get off in a certain way, there's nothing you can do except try something different. Some women can't get off from penile penetration. Some hate oral. Some love it. Some love anal. Lots hate it. Every woman is different. Guys can't relate to this because we learn from a very early age exactly how to get off and it would never occur to us that some woman don't know how. We've had plenty of practice on ourselves way before we ever had the chance to try it with a partner. For whatever reason societal pressure, thinking sex is dirty, religion, inexperience some women have never even masturbated and have never trained themselves to reach orgasm. My flat mate is one. She just never did it and she has told me that only certain specific things do it for her.


You're right that little is known, because no one has been doing studies on the benefits of cutting back. That's what has made it so exciting to see how many benefits people *are* experiencing. They are very real (unless a lot of people are lying), and they often include healed ED symptoms. That said, escaping the effects of overstimulation is only one aspect of this material. The other is tapping the power of bonding behaviors/karezza with a mate.

I'm not sure what you're mate's complaint is. Are the two of you experimenting at all with non-orgasmic sex? Is it perhaps the case that *she* has unrealistic expectations? It sounds like you've been made to believe that you are the only one with issues. Has she been using a vibrator? If so, she may have numbed the pleasure response of *her* brain, in which case normal sex is quite likely to prove less than satisfying.

I'd say that before you give up, you two may want to try the Exchanges from Cupid. It will take both your feet off the accelerator of orgasmic sex for a bit and is likely to show you how the sensitivity of your brains can change, and how that can make subtler contact more deeply fulfilling. The Exchanges only require three weeks. I could send them to you if your mate has any interest. Have a look at this article to understand better what I'm talking about: "The Lazy Way to Stay in Love" http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200909/the-laz...

Thanks for sharing your story.