Please Help: Impotent at 31. I Think Pornography Caused it

Submitted by Chuck11 on
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Please help. I need a plan to follow to restore my sexual potency. How can I recover?

I've been looking at internet pornography since I began college 13 years ago. I never had any problems until I turned about 24. At that time, I noticed it was more difficult to get aroused when with real women. I started ordering generic viagra off the internet and his allowed me to have real relationships with women with few problems until the age of 29. Around that time, it became increasingly difficult to have real sex, even with the help of the pills.

I realized I had a problem and tried several times to give up porn. The longest I lasted without porn was 3 weeks. During this time, I still allowed myself to masturbate without porn but would frequently fantasize about fetishes that I developed when watching porn. I could not get aroused thinking about having normal sex with women and so the frustration built and my only escape was to fall back into the only thing that would satisfy me, the internet. I need to be cured of this.

Is there a plan that seems to work for people like me? I feel like I am an extreme case. I have an incredible sex drive but my body just isn't responding. I used to be able to have sex with my girlfriends in college all day, literally 5-7 times lasting for almost an hour each time. Now, I can't do anything. I'm at the point where I'm meeting many suitable partners but I make excuses for not having sex and it is ruining chances at real relationships. Please help.

Welcome.

Yes it is the experience of others also that porn, with it's supposed 'perfect' images of women all unlimitedly available, can interfere with a man's ability to have satisfying sex with, or even feel properly aroused by, women in the real world. I can't say it has made me impotent, because it's been so long since I had sex I really can't tell. Therein lies my particular issue: alienation from real-world women. The porn has taken my sex life and whisked it away into this fantasy land that does not match reality in any way. And here is something of interest: The longer I go without porn, the more manly I feel again, and the more women seem to look at me or into my eyes in a different way.

It is late here and I got to hit the hay. But rest assured that assistance is available, and that your complaint is fully curable. From what I have read on Taoist sexual practice, it will involve starting out with periods of abstinence from all ejaculation, (sorry, I too wish there was another way), combined with exercises to strengthen the pubococcygeus muscle. There is so much more to be said on this subject, I just wanted to let you know that I have heard of natural ways to heal this, and that you certainly will heal this.

Welcome to the forum

With all due respect, and despite my strong belief that Asher is an extremely wise man (even if he is still boxing with an annoying little addiction Wink ), I'm not sure it's the perfection of the porn lovelies that makes men who are masturbating compulsively (most without even realizing it IS a compulsion) unable to respond to their real world lovers. It's because their brains are temporarily desensitized with "too much of a good thing," and therefore looking for a stronger neurochemical "fix." This can be provided more swiftly by the greater excitement/kinkiness/riskiness/novelty/safety of porn, than it can be by a partner who requires courting and connection on a level that includes more than just hot sex.

So, Chuck11, there are really two issues here that have nothing to do with forcing performance with techniques or pills. Once you see them clearly, you will also realize what you need to change in your habits if you want to increase your sensitivity and responsiveness to real women.

By the way, your desire to do this is very healthy, because regular affectionate touch and close companionship are turning out to be some of the best health insurance the planet offers. They soothe stress, which helps ward off all kinds of ailments. Porn goddesses simply cannot do this. They can only produce orgasms, which offer intense highs...and lows...and increasing insensitivity to life's other pleasures, but they don't actually nourish.

First, you want to understand how the Coolidge Effect works. This is a biological program that affects us all. It's what urges us to mate furiously with new partners - and lose interest in those with whom we have sexually satiated ourselves. See "What If She Were Always in the Mood?" http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200907/what-if... This Coolidge Effect program means that if we want sex to be rewarding all the time, we either have to switch partners very frequently - or learn to make love differently, with the emphasis on bonding behaviors rather than orgasm *gasp* (For more: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200908/another...)

Behind the Coolidge Effect is a neurochemical reality. Dopamine (the "I gotta get it" neurochemical) rises sharply when we see/ flirt with a potential new partner (and bed her). After all, our genes WANT us to spread them around (greater diversity in offspring improves their chances in the future). The trouble with big "highs" is that when dopamine goes too high, the brain protects itself by decreasing its responsiveness to so much stimulation. Then our "hot new babe" doesn't look so hot. Indeed, the more we fertilize someone to the point of sexual satiety (with many or intense orgasms), the less and less the dopamine rush...unless we jack it up artificially with some hot new foreplay or sex toy, watching porn together, swapping partners, etc. That can get exhausting. Smile The way around this problem is to choose a gentle form of lovemaking. The dopamine highs aren't as high, but the drops aren't as low, so we aren't as sexually frustrated in between encounters. Partners continue to look delicious, but the pleasure is coming from a different cocktail of neurochemistry...a mix of love and warmth...rather than pure "heat."

Oh, and I should point out that new lovers get a special booster shot of neurochemicals that make them feel like Superman and Superwoman...for a while. This fades at the very latest within 2 years, according to researchers. So your experience in college was actually a sort of drug trip. The more you desensitized your brain over the years, the shorter those "trips."

This brings me to the second point you want to understand. Compulsive masturbation gradually changes the brain, by dysregulating the reward circuitry. (This can be turned around, but it requires a period of sexual abstinence, which most people find very uncomfortable.) Here's what compulsive masturbation looks like:

As with any addiction, too much intense stimulation dysregulates dopamine. Results include becoming desensitized to life's subtler pleasures, such as the charms of normal partners, and, at the same time, becoming extremely hypersensitive to any cues the brain has rewired itself to associate with "relief." The user's brain constantly scans the environment for any sign of sexual stimuli that would facilitate, in this case, masturbation to orgasm. Tolerance builds, making the pursuit of more stimulating materials mandatory to relieve the misery of withdrawal.

Often users don't realize they are hooked or what they're passing up until they unhook from frequent porn use and give their brains a chance to return to equilibrium. The lengthy withdrawal required to achieve this can be so agonizing (shakes, insomnia, despair, cravings) that many feel trapped.

I suspect compulsive porn use is more widespread than recognized, and increasing. I think the validity of my observation will become evident if you design a study around the method used by the author of The Great Porn-Off http://www.cracked.com/article_15725_10-steps-porn-addiction-where-are-y....

Your brain is desensitized. That is, due to so much stimulation over the years, your dopamine is unnaturally low. At the same time, "hot cues" like porn send up a big spike of dopamine, because a primitive part of your brain has automatically conditioned itself to send you to the fastest "medicine" to relieve your frustration (short-term). So it finds "hotter" more valuable than "real."

As men stop using porn and cut back on masturbation (and porn-inspired fantasy), most notice that their sensitivity and responsiveness to real women increases. (When you force the brain away from its familiar pathways to "relief," it eventually looks around for other sources of pleasure...and finds the ones it was *designed* to find: friendly interaction, real women, time in nature, exercise, accomplishment, and so forth.) As they heal, men's perception of women shifts too. They begin to notice their smiles, scents, eyes, and so forth. Wink Here are some accounts of men awakening from this neurochemical trance you're suffering from:

http://www.reuniting.info/node/1722

I know the mainstream insists that there can never be too much masturbation or orgasm. But, at a brain chemical level, there absolutely can be. This has little to do with sex per se. Video game users can get stuck in the same rut, even without porn. Novelty-on-demand is enticing to the brain.

This is the wall you're hitting. The only solution I know is to back up along the trail you took to get to that wall. There's nothing to feel bad about here. At all. Your brain did exactly what it was programmed to do. Keep in mind that it evolved before today's avalanche of superstimulating sexual enticements. It just hasn't caught up with the fact that hot images aren't real fertilization opportunities. It just goes by "strength of dopamine squirt." Obviously, Internet porn causes big squirts in the brain...also.;-) You have to retrain. That's all.

Good luck. I'll enable you to blog.

Thanks Asher and Marnia

I was drawn to this website after reading chapter six of Cupid's Poisoned Arrow that was linked through a Huffington Post article. I wish someone could give me some sort of plan or schedule to follow so that I have clear goals to achieve in order to "resensitize" my brain. I never thought that going without orgasm was really possible. The most I've ever gone without masturbating is 3 days since I was 13. I read chapter six on Thursday and decided to give it a try. It's been 3 days now that I haven't masturbated and it actually hasn't been that bad. I think reading that chapter opened my eyes and I'm just a little shell-shocked so right now, the thought of masturbating disgusts me.

My goal is to go one week, then allow myself one orgasm (without porn) and then try to move forward with one orgasm per week for two months and keep away from all porn-like material. Does that sound like a plan that could work or is there anything else I can do? Going longer than 1 week without orgasm seems like an unrealistic goal for me. I'm going to buy your book soon and I'm sure I'll find some more answers there. Thanks.

When you make that first

When you make that first week think it over and see if you can go for 2 weeks. Trust me I know how hard it is I have been to 2 weeks without m/p/o once. I have been with out orgasm 1 other time but there was m/p.

Try your schedule though and see how it goes for you. Everyone is different and needs to try what works for them.

I have been to that wall and was having a lot of erection problems myself. I am now having an erection problem of the other kind. I was starting to get worried about it very much. I agree with everything said here because I have been there. My brain was looking for more more more. I hit a wall where there was just about nowhere else I could go to stimulate the brain for sex drive. I was at the point where I just could not get enough to give my body that boost for erection I guess. My brain just thought I needed more more more to fix it. Well that approach just made it worse. I know going with out porn masturbation and orgasm helped me with this problem I also believe that the exercise and diet changes has helped.

Welcome to the site. As I say to most here keep posting and reading it all helps. You will hear this from everyone here that even if you slip/relapse try not to beat yourself up. All of us guys here have had it happen. I think it is almost impossible to avoid on the first few tries.
Heck I have lost track on my attempts to stop now. I will tell you I am starting to see big improvements in myself. The more orgasms I avoid the easier it does get not easy by any means but easier and you just start to feel and see thing differently.

So good luck to you and wishing you well
be safe

Welcome!

Welcome Chuck,

I wish you well in your recovery. Here are some things that have helped me:

- Post your thoughts and experiences to your blog. When I first arrived here, I didn't 'speak', but I didn't get very far with recovery either. Things started to turn around for me when I made a commitment to write my stuff down and engage with folks here. It's a very welcoming and tolerant community. If you have someone in real-life you can trust, then all the better.

- My experiences with trying to just masturbate once a week soon fell apart, becoming more frequent until I was back where I was. I think longer periods of abstinence do help a lot more, but if you try for that don't be hard on yourself if you fail. I've had so many abstinences of 5, 6, 14, 21, etc days this past year I stopped counting :) The most important thing is to be able to get back on the wagon quickly and not indulge in 'one last binge'.

- Learn some techniques for when you're abstaining and the urges hit. If you know what you're going to do beforehand it's a lot easy to switch to that. Having another enjoyable activity ready to do is useful. A couple of things that have helped me I posted about here.

- Simple breathing/awareness meditation. A big part of recovery is becoming aware of how the complusive behaviour takes hold, how you justify acting out to yourself. Doing a simple breathing meditation once a day or however often you can manage helps develop awareness. I don't recommend this to try to suppress urges, but more as an exercise to do when you're not. Basic instructions: sit still, back straight, eyes closed, relaxed. Bring your attention into your body and rest on the breath. Keep focussing on the breath, if thoughts/feelings arise acknowledge them and return to the breath. 10 minutes is fine. Try it - it's surprisingly hard to stay focussed on the breath; thoughts pop in all the time and you're often led away and forget the breathing. The idea is not to have a perfectly focussed session, it's more to train your mind into noticing when distraction occurs.

- ignore any of the above if it doesn't work for you. :) We're all starting in different places and ultimately have different goals. But do let us know how you get on - because everyone's experience is different you'll have something to offer to the rest of us too.

Good luck!
time_for_change

You ask good questions

I'm still learning from our visitors here. There may be more than one way to recalibrate the brain. One is "cold turkey" (no porn, no fantasy, no touching, no orgasm) for a month or two (assuming masturbation/porn has been compulsive). This has the advantage of being one, long, miserable withdrawal...rather than repeated cycles of miserable withdrawal.

That said, some men here who are orgasming from time to time are definitely making progress. It just seems to take longer. There seems to be a consensus that avoiding porn, fantasizing and touching (dry masturbation) is generally helpful during recovery. This makes sense, because you're trying to "grow grass over the old brain pathway so a new one forms," and all those activities are cues for the old pathway.

If you choose to masturbate druing recovery, you're wise, I think, to try to do it on a schedule. (Personally, I think 3 weeks might be good because you should get past the worst of the hangover in two, so you'd get a taste of inner peace before the next cycle. Wink ) But if you do it, NO PORN or fantasy. Just loving self-love. Smile You may find Barry Long's thoughts useful: http://www.reuniting.info/resources/porn_masturbation_addiction/barry_lo...

Another helpful discovery is that when arousal is intense, you can imagine it "stoking you up" and then GET UP AND DO SOMETHING WITH IT. Excercise is great, or spend time in nature, write music, clean out a closet, go talk to real goddesses Wink and so forth.

It also helps to have a list of things you're going to do when anxiety or insomnia strike, because they may. Your brain will take some time to return to balance. Preferably these things should be things that don't just stir up another dopamine cycle (most video games are not helpful, in other words). Check out some of these topics in the forum: http://www.reuniting.info/forum/352

It also helps to share what you're going through...partly for the support and feelings of comforting connection, and partly so you can see how your brain is bouncing around and rationalizing a return to the compulsion.

It also helps NOT to blame yourself...or to be "disgusted" with orgasm. The real goal here is a "brain back in balance." As I sometimes say, "orgasm isn't the problem...it's the brain chemical cycle that follows it that kicks our butts." Small comfort. Wink

Some of the guys here have more useful insights than I do. They're the ones wrestling this dragon to the ground. What helps YOU most, gentlemen?

the benefits of blogging..

Most of what Marnia & T4C suggests are true as far as I am concerned...especially the active interaction in the forum part....

I used to just be silent player for some time and found that the lack of support sometimes did me in....the moment I started blogging its like I found non-judgemental, unconditionally supportive and loving friends...(I know it sounds incredible, but its true!)...and most of the folks here have insights that will just blow your mind away and you will find renewed strength and strategies to attack the urges and control them..

wish you the very best Chuck...

Reggie

I'll update you

Thanks for responding so quickly. I think you are right that a structured schedule will help because at least for me, the idea of trying to go without an orgasm for a few weeks seems too daunting. If I can do it one week and give myself a reward, that seems doable. Also, maybe it's just me but going longer than that without an orgasm seems unnatural and possibly unhealthy from a physical perspective.

My goal is just to make it to Thursday, each week. Then, like you said, I should not think of any fantasies when I "reward myself.". I'm thinking that I'll allow myself to think about really basic sexual activity with a girl I know in real life. After going for a week without an orgasm, hopefully I won't need to think too hard to get it going. We'll see... This is going to be an interesting experiment, if I can actually carry it out.

One thing to keep in mind

is not to panic about not getting an erection as that can impede your ability to get one when the time is right with your partner. There are some posts on this site that talk about the parasympathetic nervous system which is what allows humans to get sexually aroused but that needs to take place when there is no fear in the mind (of intimacy or of getting an erection) because if there is you most likely won't (and shouldn't) get an erection. That is why I say not to worry about getting hard because any worry that turns into panic will just prevent it from happening. And, that is a good thing, because maybe if I was a distant cousin say 5000 years ago about ready to make love on the ground if an intruder came by with four feet I need to quickly go into fight or flight mode and there's no place for a woody in that scenario (I need the blood elsewhere).

So, if you are with your partner and there is worry/panic, one of the best things to do I have found is to surrender the "performance" of sex for the moment and allow yourself a break by putting off sex for the moment. You can do this by re-affirming to the little animal inside you that the sexual desire is valid and okay (with or without an erection) and that you will take care it soon, but first there is something else to attend to (its okay to tell your partner that also). What you attend to is a focusing away from any wantingess, cravingness (you just said we would take care of that soon) and institute the bonding behaviours with a sense of serving the other, not "wanting" or "getting" anything back. The point at this juncture is not to "get" laid, but to lay in stillness with your partner in a bonding behaviour position. where you start to feel safe and secure. I recommend skin to skin contact while holding her head against your chest and with your hand holding her head while it is pressed against your chest. What you hold in mind is the sense of "giving" and genuine caring for the other person, a visual perhaps of love energy going out of your heart into her head that you are holding near to it. Once the magnetism starts and loving/blissful feelings begin to surface your perception will all change and you will feel calm, relaxed and euphoric (that is my experience anyway). Ironically, at that point any cravings for sex may be all gone but don't be surprised if a soft/slow/still kiss has you erect without any "thought" having gone into it what so ever.

On the orgasm topic,

I have just recently gone three weeks without orgasm and feel that Karezza would be a perfect permanent replacement for it. It is possible and I have had no unhealthy concerns. In fact, just last month I went three weeks and what broke the cycle was a wet dream (maybe because I am not with a committed partner right now but in the process of trying to introduce Karezza into my life with a willing partner because I have had some very startling experiences/perception shifts with early testing of the bonding behaviors).
Like most men I used to masturbate a lot and even after drinking on many alone nights in college but one day I found that it was not conducive to my spiritual goals and felt it should be let go of. In my days of it I was probably every other day, but was able to get to a couple times a week just through my own hopeful desire to want to give it up (one thing I should note is that porn was not involved).
My personal story is that I did not find it possible to let go with my own willpower but heard that the 12 steps work good when applied to any compulsion so I used some steps (I didn't attend any groups but they are highly recommended).
While I was practicing conscious contact with God through prayer and meditation I admitted that I was powerless over this (impersonal) compulsion and through invocation asked for help from a Higher Power who could remove any compulsiveness around it (bring me to a state where I could say yes or no and feel indifferent about it).
After that, the compulsion subsided and when sexual desire comes up I can easily say no to masterbation without bothersome feelings of loss or frustration. Another way to put it is that I am not run by it.
At the same time I use a technique when sexual desire comes up called "letting it run" or "letting go". You almost have to lay on the couch and be willing to welcome the sensations without labeling them or calling them anything (softly turn away from any other thoughts) and let the sensations "run". What happens is that the feelings/sensations will "run out" after a while and for pros that use this technique they can let hard core feelings go in minutes that others resist for years. You can probably find more on the technique online and something similar is the Sedona Method but all in all it is a simple method when truly applied. The key is to be willing to be with the agony of it (but leave that label off while doing it) and moment by moment let go resisting. This may be similar to breaking the barrier that runners face that when broken lets them keep running where before it was agony.
Perhaps the letting go technique combined with breathing the energy upward would be powerful to alternate every other day or when the desire comes up when one does not have a partner, but for those that do Karezza seems most promising.

It's great

having your insights, synchro. Thanks! You're enabled to blog in case you have the desire. I hope you find a karezza partner soon.

Personally, I just drifted away from masturbation years ago as I began to meditate more. It never occurred to me to *try* to stop masturbating. Smile Of course, at that time I was also reading books that said orgasm was only a problem for men, due to semen loss. I thought I was home-free, and hadn't yet figured out that masturbation also messed with *my* emotional state. I only realized later that meditation had largely shifted my sexual habits even before I realized I *definitely* wanted to change them to improve my inner balance.

Hmm, maybe

meditation is one of the key factors involved here and has really made it easier. One thing I have been doing through the whole thing is meditation as well as prayer and contemplation. While one watches/contemplates/witnesses the mind during the day with non-attachment it can be seen that it's focused on getting a gain or pleasure out of an object/thought/perception.
Shifting awareness away from that and surrendering the gain or pleasure seems to help alleviate the cravingness that may accompany it, as well as seeing the minds activity as largely "impersonal". After practice the mind seems to get calmer and less of a burden provided that one finds the thoughts/emotions burdensome (which I would think many people addicted to masturbation may find). I also found that practicing Self-Inquiry as Ramana Maharshi taught is a very helpful practice.
One of the great belief systems that this site challenges is one that seems to run in the background which says something like "orgasm is necessary for me to be happy" or put another way "climax is necessary for me to he happy" which if repeatedly experienced over time seems to lead to the progressive need for more but in a more super sized or potent way (best too if laced with fear and guilt).
I am finding that to be the opposite now after working on cancelling out that belief system through the information on this site, spiritual information and experientially through the bonding behaviours.
Anything that can produce such soothing feelings of calm and peace does not compare to the sharp gotta have it feeling that quickly fulfills a short term pleasure but just leaves you wanting more until one day it becomes too much to take.
Even while I write this I can see the mind tending to pull towards thoughts like lots of orgasm is just fine, self titillation via constant visual scanning of a body is great and I need that pang to feel good throughout the day, even though I don't follow through with masturbation or intercourse (thankfully because the spell of addiction has been broken and I am not compelled to follow through).
This is coming from a mind that does not seem to be addicted but does seem to lack an emotional bond with a woman that I feel karezza can provide. Like I said my early experimentation with the bonding behaviours has already led to very unexpected perception shifts for the better.
I worked with someone once who was really smart but had a past heroin addiction and he told me that there was an emotional hole in his life that he was filling with heroin which was replaced with his now wife whom he had not bonded with while addicted. I suspect that his bond with her was part of the medicine that helped him get off the drug.

That's interesting

Galileo, who sometimes posts here, posted some concepts from a book called "Addiction as an Attachment Disorder." http://www.reuniting.info/node/2836#comment-12583 I'll repost them:

Our nervous systems are open ended circuits designed for living in community with others. It's actually biologically impossible to regulate our own emotions for any length of time. There are those of us who are more vulnerable to addiction: we were not guided in developing healthy emotional bonds at an early age. We are more inclined to substitute obsessive compulsive behaviors (sex, porn, food, drugs, alcohol, work, gambling, computer games) as a distraction from the discomfort that we feel. Addicts tend isolate themselves so they can control their exposure to awkward and unsatisfying interractions with others. Reaching for the drug of choice then becomes a substitute for socialy acquired self-knowledge and emotional regulation. The western ideal of individualism and self-reliance has also exacerbated this condition for everyone. Our normal emotional need to be mirrored by others is seen as "dependency" and neediness, when in truth, this is what our brains were designed for.

This makes perfect sense, as does the experience of the recovered heroin addict. The brain circuits that are so sensitive to addiction in humans are the same ones (or at least closely overlap with those) that are there to urge us to bond with others...with our tribemates and with mates. So it makes sense that when we don't cultivate those connections, we look elsewhere for feelings that seem to duplicate the missing rewarding feelings. See: "Are we pair bonders more vulnerable to addiction?" http://www.reuniting.info/mysteries_of_pair_bonding_2

Humans are social and pair-bonding mammals. This means we're not molded for self-sufficiency. Some people can substitute a powerful connection with the Divine for the missing connection with mate/tribe, but the path discussed at this website is using *union* for deep feelings of wholeness. This is a less familiar, but also very ancient, path for heightening spiritual awareness - if that's a goal.

The more I learn, the more I realize that relationships are precious, and it's worthwhile to explore their potential beyond "mating frenzy." I was slow to understand this, but it has been fun to see that "we were wearing the ruby slippers" right along, in a sense. We're surrounded by potential mates here on this crowded planet. We just need to sneak past our genes' agenda for mate "turnover," and we won't need antidepressants and anti anxiety drugs to such an extent. We also won't see as much addiction.