A question on eliminating O during reboots

Submitted by enitpenima on
Printer-friendly version

Dear all,

I have a question regarding the reboot process as it is described here and on yourbrainonporn.com.

The closest analogy used for porn addiction is compulsive eating (leading to obesity), and it makes perfect sense to me. In the case of overeating, the solutions that work best are usually either:
1. Strictly regimented diets, or
2. Avoiding harmful products and eating unlimited amounts of natural, non-addictive ones.

The analogs in terms of sexuality would probably be:
1. Sex on a strict schedule, or
2. Avoiding porn and masturbation and practicing unlimited REAL sex.

The elimination of all PMO seems like the equivalent of fasting/starvation diets, which usually fail in weight loss. Is there a special element that separates food and porn addictions and accounts for the differing methodologies?

I am starting today and at the moment I'm leaning towards a 60-90 day "no P; M once a week or less; Sex twice a week or less" schedule.

It is also worth noting that while I am fighting a P addiction and some ED, I have a GF and my addiction has never stopped me from meeting women. Perhaps that's the main reason I feel unease about giving up on the O - is there really a need to give up on real sex when the goal is to improve real sex?

I'd appreciate any thoughts and comments on this!


Also interested

I'm in a similar boat and am looking forward to seeing this discussion. I regularly date great women, but am trying to eliminate a very unhealthy PM habit.

There are no rules.

If your plan seems like a good one, give it a go and keep us updated on what you are experiencing. Keep in mind, If your goal is to eliminate porn, then you all you have to do is - eliminate porn.

If you have ED, or other porn-related sexual issues, continuing orgasm and masturbation may not yield the results you want in the time-frame you expect. I have yet to see anyone successfully "cure" their porn-induced ED while continuing a regular orgasm schedule.

Even for guys with NO ED, eliminating porn, masturbation, orgasm and fantasy seems to initiate a solid withdrawal process and subsequent brain changes that leads to a full reboot. There may be added benefits to eliminating orgasm that makes recovery easier and ultimately feel more stable. Who knows? I'm not saying you have to eliminate orgasm to recover - we only report what is reported to us.

Another factor is the age you started porn. Was it early? If it was, then the reboot process is often longer, especially with ED.

Your analogy to obesity may seem logical, but it doesn't work for me.

First, food is necessary to life, orgasm is not. As you can read in this article, hunter-gatherer tribes exist that do not masturbate. WEIRD Masturbation Habits http://yourbrainonporn.com/weird-masturbation-habits In addition, many spiritual traditions have monks/priests, or other practices, that eliminate masturbation for years. No one croaks.

Second, developing porn-induced ED means you have altered your normal anatomy and physiology. In essence, porn-induced ED is an overuse syndrome of reward circuitry and erection centers. This is where the analogy to eating falls apart. Can obese people still chew and digest? Of course. When tissue is altered, drastic measures may be required. If you break your ankle, would you insist on running 3 times a week, because you have been running all your life?

Third, it's what works. Guys who mix in regular orgasms have a really hard time, and rarely make it (or we simply don't hear from them). However, a few older guys (late 30's - 40's) had occasional sex/orgasms, but they typically had a 30 day period without orgasms, and the orgasms after that were, say, 10 days apart.

Bottom line: Many guys become frustrated at their progress when attempting to mix in orgasms.

Give your schedule a try and keep us informed. We are all learning as we go...

Thanks for the elaborate response

First of all, thanks for taking the time to respond, and for creating these important websites!

For background, I started using porn regularly around 15, and am now 27. I do have ED symptoms that are not normal for my age - I either need the girl's direct attention to "prepare" me, or I enter soft and slowly grow into it; plus, I lose it in some positions due to insufficient stimulation. None of these problems exist when I'm alone, so I guess the two obvious reasons are a) normal girls don't live up to my porn-induced fantasy (i.e. desensitization), and b) there's pressure/anxiety when the girl is watching.

I guess the bottom line really is that I should try my "diet" for 60 days and then reevaluate to see whether something stricter is required. I'll be sure to keep you posted (even if the method fails, I promise not to be one of those you simply don't hear from).

But just to keep the discussion interesting, I would like to go deeper into the differences you mentioned:
1. Many spiritual practices suggest 40-day fasts, and some groups in Asia fast for longer periods. I've tried a 7-day fast before and the experience is very similar to the description of a reboot - raging hunger the first 3 days, dullness and a complete lack of appetite afterwards; the more hardcore guys who fasted for 21 or 40 days also speak of permanent changes and stabilization towards the end (perhaps the result of brain circuitry adjusting?), but I did not go past 7 days so I can't say firsthand.

Could it be that the main difference between fasting and complete abstinence is just timescale? Naturally, feedings are spaced in hours but copulations are spaced in days, so a 90-day reboot could be the equivalent of a 14-day fast - people don't croak from either one :)

2. Obese people develop tolerance to insulin and other inabilities to properly absorb nutrients. They are able to chew of course, but porn-addicts are able to ejaculate as well - so I am not sure ED is inherently more crippling than Metabolic Syndrome. In both cases a big part of the system malfunctions.

It is also worth mentioning that fasting (intermittent; I can't find studies about long-term fasting) improves insulin sensitivity and nutrient absorption, similar to your finding that abstinence improves erections.

More generally though, your articles and referenced studies seem to strongly support that:
a) all addictions share a common mechanism, and
b) addictions to overstimulation of natural mechanisms (like food or sex) are inherently different from addictions to unnatural substances (alcohol, drugs etc), in that the former are supported by our naturally evolved survival mechanism and the latter are not.

It then seems a bit counter-intuitive to model the solution to porn addiction after alcohol/drug rehab programs and not after weight-loss programs. I am not questioning your experience, but I'm trying to find a theoretical understanding of it; perhaps it would help others and not just myself. As a fitness and nutrition enthusiast, I have witnessed many success stories in weight-loss, and I suspect that if the only way to break food addiction was long-term fasting most of these people would never succeed... so I'd appreciate if you could shed more light on these issues.

P.S. I guess one way in which food addiction differs significantly from all the others is the ability to quantify success by external factors (weight, waist circumference, fat percentage); so perhaps with all the others, including porn-addiction, it is harder to find motivation to persevere?

Thanks again!

Other experiments are always welcome here

and we look forward to your report. "Gradual" has a lot to recommend it for those whose brains can make it work. For some guys, each ejaculation causes a binge...at first. So they do better with an initial period of abstinence.

By the way, with diet, I think the equivalent of "cold turkey" would be "giving up starchy carbs" or "sugar." That approach has been recommended by diet experts. I link to such advice in this article: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201106/vibrato...

We have no model

There is no research being done on the biological effects of porn addiction or porn-induced ED.
We don’t have a model based on theory. We don't have a model at all, really. We pass on what men have found. That’s all.

I understand your desire to place orgasm in the same category as food. But food is not sex, and sex is not orgasm.

I’ve done long fasts - 20 days, and I’ve gone without orgasm for many months on end. They really have nothing to do with each other in my experience. Some analogies work, but I don’t think these two functions are analogous.

As far as comparing obesity and addiction - In every disease process there is an imbalance of chemical messengers (hormones, cytokines, and hormones). So nothing special about either obesity or addiction.

I just don’t see obesity – overconsumption of what is necessary to life (food) analogous to overconsumption of a medium (Internet porn) which was invented 15 years ago. Keep in mind, you went years before puberty not having orgasms, and will probably spend your geezer days going long stretches without orgasms. It’s not a life or death matter as is food. There is a difference between wanting and needing. Yours is wanting. Nothing wrong with that.

I think porn addiction may be more analgous to drug addiction, than food addiction, in the way men respond to both orgasm and porn. People on a diet succesfully manage eating 3-5 meals a day. When men relapse into porn, or have an orgasm, it usually leads to a severe binge cycle, or the very least severe cravings for many days. This is not seen when obese people eat their 3 meals a day.

Orgasm is the biggest natural reward you an recieve - equal or higher than alcohol, opioids and nicotine. Food cannot match orgasm in dopamine levels, as experience easily demonstrates. A big mac is fine, but I'll take an orgasm any day. Orgasm, unlike food, sets off a neurochemical cycle that may last for 14 days (proven to last for 7 days). Food does not.
This cycle affects dopamine, and testosterone receptors which affect the reward circuitry. Again, leading to cravings for nearly every porn addict.

One can dial down food addiction by eliminating everything yummy. Which is what most diets do. There's no way to dial down an orgasm. It's still going to be a huge blast of dopamine. Would a dieter be successful if their meals consisted of ice cream, cake, fried chicken, pizza, cookies, etc.?

In addition, orgasm is tightly linked to porn use in porn addicts - so unlinking the two by going through a withdrwawal seems to be an important piece of the puzzle.

I could go on and on, but that's why we created YBOP.

Keep us informed of your experiment


Its so funny/odd how PMO is not such a black and white subject to break down. There are so many factors that come into play along with the way every individual responds to either indulging or refraining from it. I think another similar addiction to MPO is Video game addiction. I know its different scientifically but the factors that are the same are uncanny with internet P. The way that video games have evolved from the days of Pac-Man to now with MW3 and the advancements of online play are so similar to the way P has progressed as well. Theres also the novelty factor and a sort of coolidge effect because once youve finished a game its on to the next one. Unlike food addiction, video games can be played non-stop for hours on end just like viewing P. Why do you think MPO has not had any research done on it on a scientific level besides the fact that its shunned by society as being shameful. Is there more to it than that, is it that theres too much of a disparity in the way people respond to it?

No Unnecessary Thoughts

we compare Internet porn

to video games. Internet porn combines your genes top priority (high dopamine) with the novelty of video games and Internet surfing. see - http://yourbrainonporn.com/ominous-news-for-porn-users-internet-addictio...

As far as politics, we will be writing a piece on the history of sexual addiction and how its consideration as a behavioral addiction was suppressed as a political move to fight the tobacco companies.

Another reason porn is not studied is that academic sexologists will go to their graves screaming that sex/porn cannot be an addiction. There's a huge academic group ready to attack anyone who attempts to study it. The academics state that there is no such thing as too much or too weird when it comes to sexual activity, sexual behaviors, or porn use. Really.

Funding is also a problem as most studies are now funded by drug companies.


What about other countries? Have any other countries done studies on it? Or is that the global consensus?

No Unnecessary Thoughts

I see, understand and agree with what your saying Gary

But just to play devils advocate }:) I lost and kept off 100lbs for 2 years on Atkins eating as much bacon, eggs. steak, bbq etc.. It was all the foods I liked in the portions I liked. I'm fortunate that I dont have a sweet tooth though. [bigsmile]

Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.
Winston Churchill

Good explanation kind sir!

Good explanation kind sir! But much like trying to explain sex addiction to mainstream "sex experts" try explaining that all calories arent the same to most "nutrition experts".

Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.
Winston Churchill


Are people who repeat nonsense long enough to be recognized for their persistence -- at least in pseudo-scientific fields like nutrition, where observational studies are the norm :)

ldhw, I eat primal, so I fully agree with the approach of choosing which products are good, and then letting the body's natural appetite mechanisms do their magic (with the caveat that sometimes, you DO need an upper bound, just in case). Though, as I mentioned in the original post both approaches are valid, the bodybuilders' approach is just a bit harder to follow - I've done cuts before where everything was regimented to the gram for 5 months straight with no deviations; it works, but less people are able to follow it.

I'd like to make another small correction - all calories ARE equal; it's just that some foods have consequences other than calories, like screwing up the body's satiety signals and nutrient absorption. A calorie obtained from carbohydrate is not worse than a calorie obtained from fat, but a carbohydrate consumed is likely to make you crave more carbohydrates and overeat in the future (which sounds a lot like a chaser effect).

Here too, there may be a parallel to orgasms...

It may not be so simple -

What do you make of this?
High-protein meals may help overweight burn fat:

Or this -
Postprandial Thermogenesis Is Increased 100% on a High-Protein, Low-Fat Diet versus a High-Carbohydrate, Low-Fat Diet in Healthy, Young Women

Anyhow, many studies show greater thermogenesis, or calorie burning with proteins compared to carbs.

Second, the effects of carbs, fats, or proteins on chemical messengers such insulin, leptin, ghrelin, and probably many others, appears to strongly affect deposition or utilization of fat stores, and alteration of satiety mechanisms.

Oh I know!!

Your preachin' to the choir Gary!! The efficacy of low carb dieting is well researched all the way back to 1797. That still doesnt stop the modern western medical community (most at least) from continuing to label low carb diets as a "dangerous fad". I used to argue until I was blue in the face with so called "nutrition experts" when they would tell me how heart unhealthy my diet was and that I was going to die of off the chart cholesterol. The fact was that my already good cholesterol levels (pre- diet) dropped 15 points and had an improved LDL/HDL ratio while eating what was admitedly a rather extreme low carb diet. Mayo laiden deviled eggs were one of my main snacks, 4 eggs and 4 strips of bacon started my day EVERY day, I made my own low carb heavy cream based ice cream and cheese cakes for desert often, steak, pork chops, ribs etc were the staples of my diet. I not only ate all the foods they tell you will give you a heart attack I ate these foods to excess. The only "healthy" foods I used to eat was salad (drowned in homemade ultra high fat dressing), green beans (topped with real butter) and mushrooms (sauteed in butter and sherry).

The other thing that used to piss me off is that no one ever bothered to ask me the simple question "How do you feel" I FELT the best I had ever felt in my life low carbing it. I had lost 100lbs twice before doing the low-fat diet everyone wants you on and both times I felt like I might die. I was dizzy with no energy doing low fat. In order to loose weight on low fat diets I had to lower my caloric intake to stupid low levels, my body just HATES low fat/protein diets. On low carb diets however I felt GREAT, I had energy to burn.

As you know I dont believe that low carb is for everyone. Though we all share many physiological properties we are not all the same, what holds true for me may not be for someone else. It would be nice if many so called health care professionals were just a bit more interested in finding truth as it relates to each patient then being "right" and regurgitating the AMA view on everything.

I now descend my soap box. :P [bigsmile] :P [bigsmile]

Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.
Winston Churchill

I say this with the utmost respect

but I'm not convinced this is the best forum to be discussing this. There are impressionable kids on this site and no one from the medical fraternity here to counter the argument or highlighting other considerations (for example high protein diet impact on the liver). Medical science isn't an exact science, we've referenced research back to 1797, but any medical student will tell you that their training is based on millions of man hours of research too, into various fields.

The effects of medication/diet and the advice given are usually based on empirical evidence and research, it doesn't mean that one solution works for all, but there is statistical evidence based on distribution curves etc to support the stance. Finding the truth for each person would mean discovering retrospectively (damage could be done to the patient while making these discoveries) whereas the medical professionals have a responsibility to pre-empt issues, thus there is a need to work from probabilities. I'm not saying western medicine is perfect nor that they aren't highly influenced by pharmaceutical companies, but there is value there. Contrast that to Eastern medicine yes there may be a few little natural cures that can be learned from, but the medical advice/treatment there is generally very poor, though improving with education.


No offence taken.

I do think perhaps you may be reading a bit more into my words than I intended though. I wasn't suggesting health care professionals use patients as lab rats, only that perhaps they could "listen" to there patients and be a bit more open to treatment aproaches outside the cookie cutter "throw a pill at it, there is only one correct diet" approach so many take. To be fair I am speaking to the broad picture, there are many fine doctors out there that do alot of good. Unfortunately many others are more indoctrinated than educated. Just because millions of man hours are dovoted to proving an assumption doesnt mean the net result of the research is without flaw. This is the reason you can find differing, contradictory research on most every topic. Its unfortunate that in our current system its usually the research backed by the largest amount of money that become "mainstream thought". That money doesn't always come from those with the most altruistic of motives.

To give credit though western medicine does some amazing things. Some of the new gene based therapies show GREAT promise for treating illnesses we have NEVER been able to make much headway against. Western diagnostic devises and testing techniques are wonderful as well. In fact every week I read of some new invention of western science that impreses me. My point is that when it comes to fixing things that are seriously broke western medicine is pretty good. When it comes to maintainance we (in this country) have great room for improvement. We often use a scalpel when a bandaid would suffice (figurativley speaking). many of our drugs often turn out long term to be worse than the illness they were developed to treat. We need to remember first and formost to "do no harm". Then again thats just one mans opinion. :)

Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.
Winston Churchill

You're confirming what I just said

Here's what I said - "some foods have consequences other than calories, like screwing up the body's satiety signals and nutrient absorption."

A dietary calorie is still 4.18kJ, so saying that not all calories are equal is simply incorrect phrasing. Calories ARE equal, but their consequences are not.

As I mentioned, I eat primal myself (which is high-protein, high-fat, and relatively low-crab, with no sugar or grains), so you are preaching to the choir - but using scientifically invalid statements just gives fuel to the T. Colin Campbells and Dean Ornishes of this world.

Animals, not machines

Agreed, a calorie is a calorie strictly speaking. I personaly believe the calorie is just a shitty way of measuring units of energy in a biological organism. If we were machines it would work great, however we dont simply "burn" our food and different nutrients are processed differently. Which I think is basicaly your point.

Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.
Winston Churchill

Regarding spirtuality

and fasting, it is true to say that many religions/spiritual practices have encouraged fasting, however, perhaps that is just because the aforementioned all look for a person to control the mind. Fasting deprives the body of essential nutrients and slows down brain activity but has negative consequences on the body that were not fully understood at the time fasting was first introduced.

Generally they (IMO) are just rituals/dogmas (that pre-dated even the practice/religion that recommends it) passed on from parent to child. I'm from Asia but my religion is against fasting, perhaps that makes my view biased, but fasting is generally detrimental to health. I don't know any GP worth his/her salt that would recommend it. The growth of such practices is more to do with breeding related population growth of a particular religion/spiritual group rather than recognition of its benefits.

I am so glad you asked this

I am so glad you asked this question! Gary and Marnia's answers are so full of honest, easy to understand info. Thanks you. this broke things down so well. I keep reading ybop but this dialogue just opened up the connections from people's real experiences.

Thank you all.

Intermediate update

Not much to report so far.
Just wanted to mention that the process is ongoing, and I'm taking daily notes :)

So far - 18 days, no P, 3*Sex and 1*M (so in total 4*O). I'm trying to avoid M completely but one night my brain went completely haywire and spent hours fantasizing about massage instead of sleeping - so I released tension in the morning (trying to keep it low-excitement, so with no fantasizing or anything.. just physical stimulation).

Most of the time libido is pretty low. I had morning erections the first week, but lately there aren't many of them.. perhaps one in the last 4 days. Fantasies and erotic dreams still appear, but are mostly about real people and realistic events (basically a visualization of things I know I'm going to do) which I think is great. I want my brain to crave the real thing and not some synthetic substitute.

Another side-effect is that acne is worse. I expected this for two reasons:
1. I know there's no research to support this, but I think acne at 27 cannot be normal and has to be the result of screwed up hormones due to P+M.
2. Whenever I changed my M frequency in the past it has always resulted in outbreaks, regardless of the direction of change. So it's definitely related.

And one more that may or may not be related is lower energy levels in general. I've been drinking more coffee to keep up, but even so I have to nap almost every afternoon to function well. There's about a 50% chance it's related to this process, with the other 50% associated with digestion issues I'm having.. hopefully I can fix the latter issue with probiotics and isolate the former that way :)

That's it for now, I'll update again in 2-3 weeks.