Age 24 - ED healed, but sex initiated a 7-week flatline. I am finally healed
I've reached the end of the long and winding road... I'm 24, I've suffered from PIED since I was 19 and first had sex. Since that first time I realised there was a problem I attempted to overcome; first of all I filled up on herbal treatments (ginseng ginko etc.); went to the doctor and was prescribed viagra;
attempted to reduce masturbation frequency; amended my diet to increase intake of healthy foods. Early on (2008) I was seeing forums suggesting a relationship with porn (as high speed internet was becoming the norm), and initially i told myself it wasn't that, and it was just I had masturbated too much without having sex and needed to stop masturbating for a while (this was obviously correct but I wasn't appreciating the conditioning from porn i had received).
Through 2009, following the breakdown of my original relationship and other bad experiences, i managed several week cycles free of masturbation, but still watching porn occasionally (I should have seen the element then). Into 2010 i looked to seriously overcome the problem, and hit a month free of PMO, quite an achievement i thought but the habit wasn't kicked and instead i reverted to PMO but at a 'healthier' consumption level i thought (once a week max). I gradually found i was going no PMO for longer periods (1-2 months) before a one-off relapse; when i relapsed i was getting a MASSIVE dopamine kick just clicking onto websites initially which made me realise i was definitely a recovering addict! In November 2012 i made a conscious effort to make the periods without pornography last and beat the addiction (after a non-performance with a very attractive girl), turning it into maybe 5-6 months free of porn (with maybe 2x MO to sensation in that period).
In June 2013 (after feeling i had beat the addiction so i could go 'clean' without relapsing to pornography for ever now), and amending my diet to maximise nitric oxide production, I entered into a relationship where i had the best erections i have ever experienced. I still had bad PE but I was on a cusp of a new identity of normality. The girl i was dating said i was the horniest guy she had ever been with which only boosted my confidence.
Unfortunately, after only two/three weeks of sex i crashed dramatically into flatline. Flatline ended the relationship and i sat in it for 7 weeks, until the last week of August 2013, with no libido, depression, no confidence... but an iron will to do things better on getting out of flatline (which i knew would happen sooner or later). Flatline just gave me the opportunity to reassess, refocus my efforts, research and accumulate knowledge to prepare for the next chapter of recovery. I knew i could recover because in June 2013 i had 10/10 strength erections of which i could call upon at any moment (i had to go and hide in the toilet at work when i got erections because of the strength and intensity!), and it was just the conditioning i had put myself through that was gradually succumbing to atrophy... but i was 'very nearly there'.
TODAY – I've been out of flatline since the last week in August, with 10/10 strength spontaneous erections. I have been MOing to sensation for the past two months and the increased orgasming has had no adverse effects, and certainly no reverting to flatline. I have beat the addiction over time and the images seared into my mind have faded so that when formally i would recall pornographic scenes from my memory just at the possibility of sex, this no longer happens; although I can become very horny and be subject to spontaneous erections I am not subject to any compulsion to watch or think about pornography. I would assess my position today as a 'horny teenager', as almost every day i am subject to spontaneous erections, I haven't had sex since June but i've been naked with a girl a week ago and obviously i was very aroused.
I can't champion the role that nitric oxide boosting foods have played for me, for someone who had beaten the addiction and is out-of-flatline, the results i have had are incredible! I must caveat though that these results are conditional on dopamine signalling, if you're still returning to porn occasionally your hedonic system is being screwed up and no amount of nitric oxide boosting foods are going to help!
DIET – Nitric oxide boosting foods that I include in my diet are watermelon, which contains L-Citrulline which is converted to arginine in the kidneys, precursor to nitric oxide; nuts which provide a source of arginine. I also try to maximise my consumption of foods that are a source of nitrates which power the production of nitric oxide, these include beetroot (i take it as a food rather than beetroot juice as the juice is high in sugar without the fibre); spinach; kale; broccoli; rocket leaves; rhubarb. In tandem with nitrate foods I try to maximise my consumption of antioxidant foods to stabilise and increase the longevity of nitric oxide, these include 100% pure cocoa; garlic (Louis Ignarro, who received the Noble Prize for identifying the role of nitric oxide, swears by it); green or hibiscus tea.
SUPPLEMENTS – I have tried many supplements in the past, all the usual suspects like Ginseng and Ginko, however there was never any meaningful results. I appreciate they probably work at improving the vasodilation of arteries so there would be few results until my hedonic system had been rebooted. I've read studies suggesting pycnogenol and coleus forskolii could have a beneficial results for vasodilation (once the hedonic system has been found buoyant) but i've found a plant based diet extremely effective so I have no need to use them.
REBOOTING IN A RELATIONSHIP - I haven't had too much experience of attempting a reboot in a relationship; my first reboot (in 2008) was in a relationship, unfortunately the girl was used to sex every night, and even when i was at university she wanted me to cam-orgasm with her. What I found was the longer i went without orgasm the better the reboot... I only have anecdotal evidence for this, but i remember times when i was with girls and i had a sensation of an erection (maybe 7/10) and i would go in for sex and it would be crap or i would just lose it. I was just in a vicious cycle of trying to have sex and failing... so i decided i'd finally have to go no-PMO for a serious time (rather than cycles of a month or 3 weeks between relapses).
The lessons I've learnt which i can pass to you, although some will seem obvious, I've listed here-
1) Obviously no pornography - deleting any saved material; introducing blockers if necessary; analysing when you watch pornography (e.g. alone in a house, or a certain night or weekend when you're alone) and learn to notice the cues/triggers to watch and prepare counter measures (maybe prepare some food as soon as you hit a trigger), this isn't easy but consistency of behaviour over a long period of time is crucial to the recovery (it was very hard for me at first, but now i laugh at how i had so little control over my own physical functioning!);
2) No fantasy/thinking about sex - this is something i didn't realise/appreciate at first, but i noticed my reboot sped up when i stopped thinking/playing out sex in my mind. This again amuses me because i was always thinking about sex and thought it was a natural process, but my brain was not supposed to be constantly aroused! As with pornography there needs to be a consistent approach, so if you find yourself slipping into a sexual fantasy thinking of something like a 'Stop' sign, or the colour red, these were quick images i used and it worked over time, and now the sexual thoughts that had been seared into memory have faded;
3) Abstinence - It's not easy, especially at first when your brain was used to masturbating every other day or more, but it's crucial i feel to act as the catalyst for recovery. Maybe 1-2 months (or more in my case) of no sex/masturbation, and you'll probably find at first that you'll relapse, but if that's to sensation (ie no pornography or fantasy) then don't beat yourself up because that's the future you're aiming for (before you're having sex), and mitigate the effects by ensuring you don't relapse to pornography and binge;
4) Gradual return to masturbation to sensation - on return to libido masturbation should not involve pornography or fantasy, you'll only be awaking the pornography pathways that have lapsed; and finally
5) Diet - I cannot champion enough a diet steeped in the pursuit of plant based foods. This website is an incredible resource of nutrition knowledge - http://nutritionfacts.org/ - and i can confirm the fantastic results of a diet high in grean, leafy, nitirc oxide boosting foods such as Kale; spinach; broccoli; rocket, then non-green plant foods, such as rhubarb; beetroot; watermelon. These foods play a role 'down river', and can only take effect when dopamine signalling has returned, but once that happens the effect is relentless and superb!
Keep truckin' on!
LINK - The Struggle for Pleasure
UPDATE: 3 YEARS LATER - Completely Cured (but beware!)
I am back on this forum after not posting in nearly a year due to relapse.
I have had PIED since age 19 (now 27). From age 20 I battled for 7 years to complete cure, enduring numerous false starts and hurdles. The crux came as I was completely free of porn addiction and entered into a monogamous relationship where I could build my performance until I could last for 20 minutes - I genuinely never thought that that day would come.
I have relapsed heavily. Having not watched porn in six months I have relapsed to PMO four times in the last 10 days.
This is a depressing event but I know that I need to catch this early and stop it before it reverts to my old life.
However, I am a success story from going from countless PIED etched memories in my mind to having sex three times in a night!
The cure is avoid all visual sex stimulation for a long time (six months to a year before you'll see results in cases of serious PIED); exercising; eating well; and then actually attempting sex (poorly at first).
I know now that I have slapped myself in the face but I know I have changed and I have the resolve to correct my decision.