'I Gave Up Porn Cold Turkey, and It Was the Best Thing I Ever Did '

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guy with EDI couldn't get it up. It had nothing to do with my girlfriend at all. She was beautiful and sexy, but once it came time to get down to business, well, I wasn’t firing on all cylinders. And I was way too young for this shit.

Yea, waaaay to young for this to be happening. Like, WTF? Which is why I casually mentioned my little "problem" to an old friend one night as we watched football. He turned, and bluntly asked: “How much porn do you watch?” Now, I work full time from home. Asking me how much porn I watch was kinda like asking Homer Simpson how much beer he drinks. Not that I was addicted, mind you, but I was a very heavy casual pornography user.

And that, he said like a great wise oracle, was my problem. He directed me to some Internet forums about porn-induced erectile dysfunction, and I found that I wasn’t alone.

Impotence: it's not just for Stan Zbornak anymore

Sure, once upon a time impotence was only a problem for the guys who dated the Golden Girls. But lately, it's started to affect dudes who don't look like they belong in a Viagra ad.
 
A 2012 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that a terrifying 30% of men 18-25 suffered from erectile dysfunction. And that wasn’t just after a long day of popping Molly and watching Skrillex. This was up from a reported 1% in the famous Kinsey study of 1948.

Meanwhile, another study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that 54% of sexually active males 16-21 reported some sort of sexual difficulty, including erectile dysfunction. A far cry from my memories of REALLY not wanting to stand up when the teacher called on me in history class. But why?

High-speed porn, that's why

When I was a teenager, we were lucky to find an old copy of Playboy under a park bench that you'd use to jerk off for, at least, a month. Now? Thanks to high-speed broadband, guys actually do read Playboy for the articles. Today, adolescents can virtually experience more people and weird sex acts in an hour than anyone not named Gene Simmons does in a lifetime. And all this exposure to rapid-fire porn means young men are becoming hardwired to get turned on by it. With one serious consequence -- they have more problems getting it up when the sex is REAL.

Dancin' with Mr. PornHub

Now for a little science lesson -- stay with me here. Porn affects your brain in two ways: through sensitization and desensitization. This video sums it up nicely, but if you're at the office and don't want to watch a movie about porn screwing up your brain with your coworkers, that's cool, I get it -- I'll run through the highlights:

Sexual arousal is the No. 1 activator of the reward center in your brain, and it leads to the release of dopamine, which makes you feel good. Eventually, though, your brain hardwires itself to know when to release said dopamine. The nerve connections in the pathways associated with watching porn get stronger, the connections in the “actual girl” pathways get weaker, and all of a sudden instead of getting turned on by your naked girlfriend, you're turned on by the startup sound on your MacBook. This is known as sensitization. 

Desensitization, on the other hand, occurs when your brain finds the constant flow of dopamine abnormal, and adjusts to the problem by either decreasing the number of dopamine receptors, the flow of dopamine, or both. What happens then, you ask? To paraphrase Axl Rose, a little won’t do. As in, watching just a little porn will no longer do it for you. No, you have to watch more and more to get your dopamine fix and before you know it, instead of clicking “Hottie Having Sex on a Pool Table” you're watching “Hottie with Four Goats and a Rabbi" 11 times before dinner.

Girls like guys who don't like porn

Once I learned this, I was done. Finished. I quit porn cold turkey. And you know what? Like some weird vodoo magic, within weeks my erection problems were GONE. Not only that, I was more aroused when I saw my girlfriend and our sex life got better. Ironically, we broke up anyway -- for completely unrelated reasons! Go figure.

But guess what, it didn't matter. Because that's when I learned that ditching porn won’t just improve your sex life in a relationship, it’ll make you downright phenomenal if you’re single. [Note: By the way, I realize right now that I probably sound more like a Ronald Regan-era anti-porn PSA than a dude, like you, who enjoys a video or two before bed. That's cool. But hear me out.]
 
Perhaps the most telling quote from the video link above is from a guy who watched a lot of anime porn; he said, “I really just prefer girls as anime characters.” Yes, it has gotten to the point where a lot of dudes prefer their women as two-dimensional objects who don’t do much but fuck. But women know when you’re only chatting them up to try to get in their pants, and let's be honest, how often has that worked out for you?
 
When you stop watching porn, you stop imagining what the woman you're talking to at the bar looks like on the Back Room Casting Couch. You start to have actual conversations, and you start to listen. Pro tip: women find listening to be very sexy. And because your brain doesn’t associate sex with sitting alone in a room all day, your confidence goes up immeasurably. Confidence is also something women find very sexy.
 
You see where I'm going with this, right? More talking, listening, confidence -- this all leads to more dates and, eventually, more sex. And when it comes time to have sex, the pathways in your brain that link arousal with porn are weaker, the ones linking arousal with real women are stronger, and the excitement of actually being naked with someone is enough to get you going. Hot damn.

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Quitting porn isn’t Viagra, nor is it Funky Cold Medina. It won’t cure all your problems with women, or stop you from referencing your ComicCon costume more than one time on a date. Nor will it help you get it up when you’ve had too much to drink.
 
But what it will do is make your sex life better. And if you’re having any kind of problem in the bedroom, whether it’s impotence or simply not getting any to begin with, challenge yourself to give up porn for six months and see how much better life gets.
 
And if it doesn’t, well, your old friends will still be there waiting for you on the Bangbus.

Original article on "Thrillist.com"