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How long will it take to recover from Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunction?
Submitted by Gary Wilson on Fri, 06/17/2011 - 21:09
This is the number one question we get from guys suffering porn-induced ED. However, we cannot predict how long it will take for your erectile health to return. Among those who stick with it, progression is surprisingly similar—when guys completely stop pornography, porn fantasy and masturbation. Symptoms and feedback indicate that eliminating or drastically reducing masturbation produces a deeper withdrawal and shorter rebooting period. Here's one guy's account:
I'm very close to 90 days and just want to share my thoughts. In a nutshell, there IS light at the end of the tunnel, but there can be a good month of flatline [no libido] before you get there. From what I've read, the flatline seems to put people off. They go for 7 days and feel like superman. Then it just seems to die. I believe that a short-term reboot will bring short-term benefits. (i.e., 7-day testosterone spike, which is just a taste of things to come).
Only after a few months have I now begun to feel the long-term benefits. After around 70 days, I pretty much felt good all the f**king time! My anxiety is gone; my depression is gone; I'm fitter, healthier, and am no longer a slave to the opposite sex. I no longer see women as goddesses because I'm not craving them to begin with.
Although the recovery process is not linear (good days are followed by bad days and vice versa), here's what often occurs:
- Withdrawal symptoms and cravings usually occur immediately. However, some guys notice a rapid return of libido and confidence for a week or two...followed by a flatline that goes on for for weeks. See number 3 below.
- Absence of libido and erections, increased flaccidity ("shrinking or lifeless penis"): Often begins towards the end of week one, but can be highly variable. Continues for 2-8 weeks, dependent upon age one started and severity of porn use. However, some guys take longer and exit, then reenter flat-line period,
- Gradual return of morning erections, libido and occasional spontaneous erections at other times (still with "flat" days interspersed). Not all men experience a return of spontaneous erections.
- No more "semen leakage" during bowel movements, etc.
- Return of good erections, sexual desire for real partners, reports of extremely pleasurable sex, contented condom use even if it was once a problem.
- May be continued improvements in erection quality, libido and sexual pleasure for months following the return of quality erections.
A few rare fellows recover very quickly, within a few weeks. It's unlikely they had developed addiction-related brain changes. A few guys recover within 4 - 6 weeks. Most older guys, who did not grow up with the Internet, fully recover after 8-12 weeks of no porn, no masturbation and no orgasm. More than a few take 90-150 days, or longer to regain erectile health. Recent rebooting accounts indicate that guys who started Internet porn at an early age will continue to improve for several months after the return of healthy erections.
A list of possible factors that may affect length of recovery:
- How consistent one is with no porn (and probably no masturbation or orgasm)
- Age one started porn. Younger means stronger brain wiring for porn, and weaker wiring for the real deal. If masturbation began with Internet porn use, the pathways can be very deep. If you started masturbation and Internet porn in early adolescence (or if porn use preceded masturbation), recovery may take 3-6 months, or longer. Please be patient and see 1) Adolescent Brain Meets Highspeed Internet Porn 2) Started on Internet porn and my reboot (ED) is taking too long; 3) Young Porn Users Need Longer To Recover Their Mojo; 4)Gary and Gabe discuss recovery from porn-related ED (show #9)
- Little or no contact with real partners usually mean longer. Guys who started porn early, and have experienced little or no sexual intimacy, need to rewire their sexual arousal to real partners.
- If you have a partner, it may speed up the process. Helps rewire your sexual response to a real human.
- Length of porn use. Longer may mean longer recovery.
- How often porn was used for masturbation. Always or occasionally.
- Frequency of PMO sessions (per week, per day)
- Previous periods of abstinence from porn. Recent periods of abstinence means faster recovery.
- The genre of porn currently used for masturbation. The more shocking or disturbing it is for the user, the more the brain has adapted.
- If you have developed porn-induced fetishes, it may take longer to be aroused by "vanilla" sex.
- Initial sensitivity of the brain to addiction (genetics, childhood traumas).
- Type of masturbation used. Was a "death grip," very fast movement, or prone position employed?
- Edging without ejaculation while rebooting. Really bad idea.
What about fantasizing about porn? A bad idea, as it strengthens sensitized addiction pathways. But fantasizing about the real deal may be OK, especially for guys with little sexual experience.
What about having sex while trying to reboot? Probably a good thing. If you fool around or have intercourse and purposely avoid orgasm, it may be fine, even beneficial. If it's too soon, orgasm with a partner can set you back, or throw you into a relapse (see below). Porn-induced ED is your brain saying it has had enough. If you have ED, attempting to force an erection with porn fantasy or other methods, seems to be counterproductive to your recovery.
On the other hand, if you're back in balance, but not experiencing a lot of spontaneous erections, sex with a partner will show you you are, in fact, back to normal. For example, here's what one guy said:
Spontaneous erections might be a sign, but I'm not sure if they are a real sign. You don't have to walk around with a boner in order to feel things will work out. Last week, for example, I hadn't seen my girlfriend for a couple of days. I had no spontaneous erections during that time. Given my old troubles, I even worried a bit... Was I losing it again? But when I saw her everything was just fine. Her touch and smell totally turned me on and the penis worked. So things will work out, when your brain is in balance, even if you don't have a constant boner (spontaneous erections).
Finally, there comes a time when young guys who trained their sexual responses to porn need to rewire to real partners. If not sexually, then socially. You need contact with others. You may need to fantasize or start self stimulation. See - Started on Internet porn and my reboot (ED) is taking too long. Unfortunately we cannot tell you at what point you need to integrate sexual stimuli.
As others have said, it's highly variable. I found the following things sped things up:
1. Removing any stimulating images, even normally fine things like Facebook and OkCupid. I'm fine with them now, but it helped starting out when my brain was sorting things out
2. Rewiring with a woman. Find someone you can cuddle with, as often as possible. This will speed you up enormously.
3. Going no orgasm. I made the most progress when I went 98 days without orgasm, while rewiring. I added orgasms once I had 100% erections
4. Change your attitude towards sex. You say "I can't please a woman as I am", but that's completely false. You can do a lot to please women with your mouth and hands, usually more than you can with a functioning penis.
A lot of guys on here post "tried sex, failed, waaaaa", which indicates a flawed mindset. You can have sex, and cuddle, etc. It's rewiring. If you do that for a while, your ED should disappear.
The hard cases on here typically aren't doing much rewiring.
Stick with it. It feels great to be able to have sex again, it's all worth it. It'll come back for you too :)
It's really important for young guys to rewire their sexual response to real persons, this succesful rebooter said Rewiring has sped up my reboot!
Hi everyone! So I'm at 100+ days no PMO and I've been spending some time with a great girl.
The almost all of this reboot I've been in a flatline - while my morning woods have slowly been getting harder and increasing in frequency, I've still had very little libido and zero spontaneous erections.
About 7 days ago I spent a comfortable, relaxed night with a girl that seemed to have reawakened something in! We kissed, cuddled and did some touching all with clothes on. It was an amazing feeling - I've been feeling an increase in libido and healthy sexual perspective on women since!
I'm definitely still not recovered - my erections aren't hard enough yet, and I'm pretty sure I couldn't have successful sex, but I just wanted to write because I really, really, really think that kissing, cuddling and being intimate without orgasming can accelerate your reboot by leagues
The "Chaser Effect"
When men first learn that their ED is caused by porn use, they tend to become quite enthusiastic about stopping all porn, masturbation, and orgasm. Some succeed, but most relapse a few times, or add in occasional masturbation or sex with a partner. The challenging thing about a relapse before you're rebooted is that it can kick in the "chaser effect" over the next couple of days. Knowing about this can save you a binge, when strong urges hit you out of "nowhere."
Whatever you do, realize that it was porn that caused your erectile problems. Staying away from porn is your top priority. So if you have an uncontrollable urge to masturbate to ejaculation, do so without porn. If you can't masturbate without porn, then it's not true sexual desire. Instead, your urge is "only" an addiction cue that has been triggered by a thought or a visual.
From all reports, the men who regain their erectile health the quickest completely abstain from masturbation and orgasm. The more often you masturbate, the longer it takes. That said, all your efforts are somewhat cumulative. Here's what one guy said:
I went 6 weeks and had slight relapses [viewing soft-core to test for erections - not recommended] once every 4 days or so. When I finally went back to celibacy, I didn't start from zero, I started from like week three. I know this because when I first started I could not get hard from just masturbation. But after a relapse I did not go back to that beginning state.
Back in the saddle
When you do have sex again, it may be a good idea to approach it with a new mindset—not focused on sexual performance. Apprehension due to past failures is common and it may take a few tries to overcome anxiety Here's some advice from other men who had ED, rebooted, and then had sex.
- In my 3 times of "connecting and bonding" with my wife since beginning my reboot, there were no expectations of intercourse. We started out just playfully fooling around, enjoying each other's bodies, caressing and kissing, and the next thing you ... WHAM!!! It was all very relaxed.
- I knew I had a problem when I was in my late teens. I eventually had successful intercourse in my early 20's, but I didn't consider myself cured, so I had performance anxiety, and 9 times out of 10, couldn't perform. I guess my thinking now is that if 4 days of intercourse in a row don't convince me that my libido is ok, then what will?I might have expected too much in the past. I assumed that I should be up and ready to go at a seconds notice, no matter how stressed I was. I expected to get a boner every time I looked at a beautiful woman. Now my expectation is to eventually get erect if I'm relaxed in the presence of a woman I like (i.e. my wife). So it's a combination of reason and a slight change in expectations I guess. I will say that I would have never dreamed of giving up masturbation for 90 days if it wasn't for this site. Also this site convinced me that the connecting aspect is so important.
- Performance anxiety is a really tough thing to beat. Anytime you are in bed with a woman and you start observing yourself, an erection probably won't happen. I know full well it's not fun to enter into sexual relations worrying about performance. The key is to enter into it not worrying one iota about erection. It's easier said than done, but that's the challenge that many men face. I faced it, and I'm surprised I got through it.
In other words, forget porn-style sex and just be playful. Relaxation actually promotes erections. In fact, oxytocin (the "cuddle hormone") is vital to erections, and you produce oxytocin when you engage in affectionate, generous touch. Go figure!