If I have ED, don't I need to "use it or lose it?"

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Porn addiction can bring on erectile dysfunctionI'm rebooting, so I haven't watched porn or orgasmed in 43 days, however I've recently begun to masturbate again. I end up stopping short, but I really need to ease up. I think I'm feeling some anxiety due to the fact that I've been on a couple of dates and the chances of me having sex in the near future have increased. I guess I'm trying to make sure it works. I even took half a Cialis today..though I have no chance for sex this weekend as the girl I'm seeing is away on vacation.

There's a strong meme out there that says, "Use it or lose it," and when people have used porn heavily enough to squelch their erections, they fear to stop masturbating, thinking their lack of responsiveness will get worse. Or they think they need to "remind" their penises what to do by using porn to achieve erections.

"Use it or lose it" may be a factor when men don't have sex for ages, because intercourse (even without orgasm) is good for reproductive health. Erections pump blood through the genitals, preventing congestion (stagnant blood flow), etc.

However, "use it or lose it" isn't the problem for porn-related ED sufferers. Their problem is overuse, which has temporarily numbed their brains. Their genitals are perfectly healthy, as explained by Norman Doidge, MD.

Heavy porn users need to reboot to restore potency. In other words, ED from heavy porn use is an entirely different challenge, physiologically speaking, from the challenge faced by someone who has stopped all sexual activity for a long period of time.

Among visitors here with ED symptoms, a couple of months without "using it" increases potency. When the brain is back to normal, normal sexual responsiveness returns. Meanwhile, however, some experience even less sexual responsiveness. This is normal, and can last for weeks. Don't panic; just be patient.

It may be counter-intuitive, but you don't increase your potency by masturbating, with or without orgasm. Let your brain rest, and it will soon be ready for action. Remember, if you had broken your ankle, you would know to stop using it until it healed. You wouldn't keep "testing" it by walking on it, because that would only slow your recovery. Key points to remember:

  1. Erections are not off limits, and neither is sexual stimulation from a partner.
  2. Rebooting is temporary. We do not suggest long term abstinence.
  3. Chances are you will continue to have nocturnal erections.
  4. If your libido isn't returning try the suggestions found in this FAQ - Started on Internet porn and my reboot (Erectile Dysfunction) is taking too long

Incidentally, Cialis and Viagra work by temporarily altering your body's vascular response. They do not work directly to heal the plastic changes in your brain that have caused any impotence. Your brain needs time and an absence of stimulation. That's what will enable it to return to normal sensitivity and sexual responsiveness as quickly as possible. This happens automatically; you don't have to do anything to make it happen.

Comments from guys who rebooted:

  • I have now first-person experience with the 'use it or lose it' concern. As far as I can tell, there is nothing to be concerned about. I orgasmed on day 32 with a woman. It was a good experience, although too early in my rewiring. It set me back moodwise, and I experienced a mean-ass chaser effect. But I haven't discussed one of the positives - the quality of the ejaculation. Yes, in fact, I have NEVER felt my cum be so thick, abundant and warm (almost hot). There was a TON of it - I was soaked. Anyhow - 32 days of no O and, although I didn't have lab work done to test my sperm count, I can assure all of my fellow PMO recoverees that your prostate and testes are working just fine. The problem is truly in the brain and nowhere else. If anything, I feel like my junk needed a long-overdue rest after years and years of 2-4 orgasms per day. Oh the sperm I have squandered lol!
  • My penis still works down the road, too. I was worried about it at first. Especially during some of those reboot stages where it feels like you are like a sexual eunuch. It's normal to flatline at first, since you have been ramping yourself up with all the stimuli for so many years.

For more on understanding erectile health, see Gary's Erectile Dysfunction and Porn slide show

Also see: Ejaculation: How Often for Good Health?

And if you want to strengthen your erections and meet potential mates, try sexercise.


I´m 32 years old, 2011 was my worst year sexually speaking all began in 2010, all by ED and libido 0. I went to urology, endocrinology, psichology and finally psiquiatry. No one give a good reason and no solution. Endodrinologist(after all kind of bood analyses) basically told me go to psiquiatry, but while take some viagras and join ´em ´cause all that you don´t use eventually atrophy(all with a sardonic smile), basically "use it or loss it". I was desperated, also i lost my sensitivity. I was thinking speak with a neurologist it´s like a lost connection to my penis i knew that was my brain or something neurological..... I don´t know the reason ´cause(may be despair) i thought that may be pornography.No F****** specialist gave me a reason and viagra an cialis make feel worst... Fu** i knew it, i knew it. I did a google search and this page appeared at fisrt. Now i´m at my ninth day without porn or masturbation or anything else. I´ll be patient i´m picking up starcraft and stacraft2, and muchh physical exercise. Fortunatelly i began masturbation without high speed internet, all this should take to or three hard months :D...........

how you get on. Every guy who recovers helps encourage others to experiment.

Rather than play video games, try daily exercise, time in nature, meditation and socializing with others. Also check for advice at the "Uncle Bob" page to the left. Good luck.