Does Giving Up Porn Help Your Sex Life?

Originally appeared at HyperVocal

“I don’t really masturbate without porn,” writes Redditor syncratio400, who, out of curiosity, subjected his shvantz to two weeks of complete NSFW abstinence: “no nude pictures, videos or anything that would typically arouse me.”

He’s not giving up orgasms — just fantasy ones, in the hope of improving his actual, real-life sex with his wife, with whom he has a baby.

“I wanted to see how my consumption of porn effects my libido, performance, enjoyment of sex, and any other day to day things,” the 25-year-old writes. And “I’ll be doing this according to the scientific method.”

♦◊♦

Here’s the experiment:

Question: What effects does the consumption of pornography have on my libido, performance, sexual performance and day-to-day life?

Research: [1] Research Indicates that people who previously consumed porn and have abstained experience the following:

• Moderate to extreme frustration (“putting an angry cat in a bag”)
• Increased Aggression
• Mood Swings
• Sensitivity to revealing clothing and sexuality
• Drop in libido, followed by a recovery of libido.
• Higher stamina during sex
• More fulfilling and easier to achieve orgasm
• More energy

Hypothesis: I hypothesize a personal increase in frustration, increased libido, sensitivity to revealing clothing and sexuality, and I expect to see changes in my sex life.

Testing: The criteria for the experiment are simple, and are as follows: No pornographic images or videos of any kind allowed for the extent of the experiment. … Keep in mind that I’m a redditor, so clicked links in threads do indeed bring me to nudes once in a while. When this happens I just back out as fast as I can and don’t linger. So yes, I did actually see some nudes during the course of the experiment, but not on purpose and not to sexually gratify myself.

An unfortunate consequence of this is that I don’t really masturbate without porn. I’m 25, so when I started masturbating at 12 or 13, I had access to porn on the internet. In my teen years I could masturbate without porn of course, but now that I’m in my 20s I can’t really do it without some kind of excitement or visual stimuli. So, basically I haven’t been masturbating throughout the experiment. This is offset, however, by the fact that I’m married and very much sexually active with my wife.

Syncratico400 kept a journal, logging his progress and various degrees of sexual frustration along the way. During days 1 and 2, he says, he didn’t feel too horny because he’d gotten in a fight with his wife over the experiment. He says she felt hurt that he “craves seeing other women naked. … I feel awful, so my sex drive is awful in relation.”

The Olympics, with “all of the ass hanging out,” brings his mojo back. “Revealing clothing is much harder to not glimpse. Damn you, women’s diving, beach volleyball and swimming.” But by day 5 his sex drive seemed to “plateau” at a frustrating level. “I have the urge to look up pics or videos fairly often, and it takes effort to get my mind off of it. Sex is good and is easier to orgasm, but I didn’t have much trouble before.”

He writes,

• Near extreme frustration Confirmed
• Change in sex life Confirmed
• Easier to Achieve Orgasm Confirmed
• Increased Stamina Debunked

“What is this sport? Water polo or something?” he writes on day 6. “It’s like soccer or hockey in the water, and everyone’s swimsuit is a thong. Fucking. Thongs.”

• Extreme Frustration Definitely Confirmed

♦◊♦

Day 8: The weekends are brutal. Wife has been working all day, so I’m home alone with the baby. Pretty ridiculously hard not to browse /r/gonewild while idle or when the baby is napping. Oddly, I wasn’t very ‘in the mood’ this evening, but the wife definitely changed that. I’m not sure why I crave porn during the day but not sex.

Loss of libido: Plausible

Day 9: I’m wondering that if this ‘addiction’ is not common amongst men and women (which I actually expect that it is common), then I may have this issue because my wife is the only sexual partner I’ve had in my life. My urges to ‘spread my seed’ are subdued by exposing myself to porn. What did people do before porn was accessible? Either people didn’t crave nudity as much, or they were a lot more sexually mischievous or sneaky. Perhaps some research is in order.

Libido is back today in full force. This sucks. I’ve been thinking about quitting the last couple days.

Day 10: Nothing all that new. Still thinking of quitting. I might just start grouping days together unless something eventful happens. I’m not an aggressive or moody person to begin with, but I’m going to throw these out the window today. Not gonna happen.

• Increased Aggression Debunked
• Mood Swings Debunked

The baby (oh, and some dude-butt issues) proved to be a buzzkill around day 11, but the wife came through in the clutch:

Last night kind of sucked. I was in the mood and tried to get something started (didn’t progress because my wife wanted to shower first) but we fell asleep on the couch. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, and I’m not mad or anything but I did have some pent up urges as we migrated to bed. Then the baby kept me up most of the night. I really need a coffee today but I quit about the same time (also, red meat) as restarting this experiment because I’m having a bout Ulcerative Proctitus (which sucks because I enjoy anal play). One nice thing is that my wife is indeed amazing and she texted me first thing this morning to say she was sorry because of the night before. Apparently I have a great blow job to look forward to tonight. :)

Day 12: I feel good today. I got my gift from last night, and it was so good I actually had a second wind before bed! I usually can’t get it up twice in one night but last night was no problem, so I was glad to get a blow job AND have sex in the same night. My urge to look up pics today still exists but it’s not aggravating like before. My libido is still high. I think in the few weeks before this experiment I was beginning to have second winds more often, so I’m not positive last night was attributed to the experiment. It’s more likely that my wife’s performance is what triggers these, but I’ll go ahead and say it’s plausible.

Oh … and the baby only woke up once last night, so I slept pretty well. It’s a good day.

• Change in Sex Life: Improved Plausible

Day 13: Was a bit frustrated last night because of Olympic beach volleyball, but the wife helped me with that. It seems the mornings are a bit easier now. Nothing else new to report!

Results:

• Moderate frustration Confirmed
• Sensitivity to revealing clothing and sexuality Confirmed
• Near extreme frustration Confirmed
• Change in sex life Confirmed
• Easier to Achieve Orgasm Confirmed
• Extreme Frustration Definitely Confirmed
• Increased Stamina Debunked
• Increased Aggression Debunked
• Mood Swings Debunked
• Loss of libido Plausible
• Change in Sex Life: Improved Plausible

Syncratico400′s conclusion? It was frustrating but sorta fun. That said, the whole giving-up-porn thing is f*cking overrated. Also, he never wants to do it again.

“Overall, I don’t think it improved my sex life enough (or at all) to warrant introducing frustration into every day life,” he says. “For me, porn is healthy and keeps me happier day to day because it helps suppress my primal urges.

“One more thing I’ll note is the last couple days were a bit easier, but I still craved porn. It just wasn’t as frustrating. I may keep going on my experiment but at this point I’m not really sure. It’s been 3 weeks with only looking at porn once two weeks ago … so I’m going to wuss out and say that’s enough testing.”

♦◊♦
What have we learned today? Probably nothing. It’s worth noting that this is just one dude with a distinct, personal conditioned response to vicariously enjoyed pleasure, and someone else’s results might be totally different. Still, this experiment might come as a sigh of relief to dudes and ladies worried about porn use killing their boners (and ladyboners) in bed.

It’d be interesting to see how someone who actually felt he had a “porn problem” would respond. Our subject is a guy who uses porn recreationally and has a healthy sex life to begin with. Porn is like any drug: If you smoke a joint or sip a glass of Scotch three times a week to relax, you’re is only going to feel annoyed when that thing you like is no longer accessible, and there’s no good reason you can’t have it.

So step it up, would-be-scientist Redditors! Just think of the karma.

 

 

Photo of man looking at computer courtesy of Shutterstock

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About Cooper Fleishman

Cooper Fleishman is managing editor of HyperVocal.com. After graduating from Kenyon College in 2009, he moved to New York to follow his dream of book-publishing glory. Once here, he sold dog food on the street and copyedited celebrity-gossip tabloids, finally landing as senior editor of the Good Men Project, where he served for a year before sneaking into HyperVocal. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @_cooper.

Comments

  1. Sensitivity increases after going a few days without masturbation. A few days without porn makes the first day with porn a lil better. I have no partner currently so I can’t comment on that part.

    I am curious if his wife was as attentive to making sex good before, when he looked at porn vs during the experiment? It could skew the results, people falling out of touch sexually with the whole life stresses thing?

  2. Interesting. But After the second week everything changed again, so I’d say two weeks is not really enough to “debunk” a theory when in fact you’re still sexually active.

    Plus results will vary from one subject to another.

    But it was fun to read :)

  3. At 25 years, this “addiction” already has effects… Let’s touch base when you’re 45! Makes me think that there needs to be long term, scientifically designed research. Sex is a health and cultural issue. And… If you’re not able to get it up 2x at 25 when you’re watching alot of porn, it sounds like you could have a lot more sexual satisfaction and a more connected relationship with your wife.

  4. I have actually embarked upon similar porn-deprivation quests on a few occasions. My reasons were that I have felt my exposure to porn and certain kinds of porn gives me negative feelings after I’ve watched it and masturbated to it, and that it makes me feel less confident in my own sexual relationship with my wife. The more into porn I get, the less inclined I am to feel connected to my partner sexually, so I have to strike a balance. It makes me alienated towards what real sex is like so I have to eliminate those images and fantasies for a period in order to bring myself back from the brink so to speak. I don’t notice any real negatives, I don’t get more stressed or notice that I crave porn. But I do definitely get more of a wandering eye, I notice women a lot more and think about sex with them, and I make more of an effort to enjoy my wife. Once I get back on track, my confidence returns and I don’t desire porn as much because sex is better hands down and sometimes you can forget that.

  5. My urges to ‘spread my seed’ are subdued by exposing myself to porn. What did people do before porn was accessible? Either people didn’t crave nudity as much, or they were a lot more sexually mischievous or sneaky. Perhaps some research is in order.
    I’d bet they were more mischievous and sneaky. Prostitution is often called the world’s oldest profession and Ancient Greeks and Romans were known to have wild orgies and and the idea of pornographic art/drawings/writing dates back quite a bit.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Yeah, the whole “urge to spread my seed” trope is a little overblown. If nature really does have an intention, the intent seems to be to have men get rid of semen as often as possible in any way possible, wherever it may land. If it’s part of “nature’s plan,” it’s a really stupid, wasteful plan. A man can take care of the imperative daily his entire life and never put his “seed” on any fertile surface. Not a very elegant plan.

      See if the “biological imperative” argument is convincing to the laptop shop that has to repair your sticky keyboard.

  6. I have a healthy sex drive but, wow, I can’t imagine thinkin about sex this much. It sounds exhausting! Wow. I’d never get anything else done. :-)

  7. Interesting. A couple of questions that I’d like to ask syncratio400:

    How did not looking at porn make you feel in relation to your partner before sex, during, and after sex? How did it make you feel as an individual before, during, and after sex? What were you thinking about during sex? Were you present or fantasizing?

  8. Porn is increasingly pervasive and the internet has changed the nature of porn. Just as marijuana has become increasingly potent and powerful, so too has porn. There’s now good evidence that porn can re-wire the brain. For a very professional and non-judgmental look at porn and its impact on our sex lives I suggest this site.
    http://www.yourbrainonporn.com/

    After seeing the data, I decided to take a break from porn and see what impact it had on my sex life.

  9. This is only a three week account. The typical recommendation (there is no concrete or definite “program” that’s been made for people to stick to) for a “reboot” is to stick to it for around 90 days. A chronic porn user that has been using for extended periods of times will, in most cases, need much more than three weeks for their brains to rewire and return to a healthy state and see full benefits. Some rebooters even go so far as to swear off orgasm completely; that is, any sexual activity is to be slow and gentle and not focused on having an orgasm. Their accounts can be read at various other places, but I’ve listed some here:
    http://www.yourbrainonporn.com/rebooting-accounts
    http://www.yourbrainonporn.com/external-rebooting-blogs-threads
    http://www.reddit.com/r/NoFap/

  10. Does his wife know he is going back to normal porn use? Doesn’t sound like she knew he was looking at it to begin with.

    I wish this was a little more conclusive. I think the fact that he couldn’t seem to uphold the test longer kind of points to an over reliance on porn to begin with.

  11. wellokaythen says:

    In this case, it sounds like two issues coupled together but that need to be disentangled. One, being unwilling or unable to masturbate without porn, and two, going without porn. The effect of this is that for the author, giving up porn means becoming completely dependent on his partner for all sexual gratification. He’s set up a situation where giving up porn means giving up masturbation completely. That sounds really sad to me.

    I suggest an at least equally valid sexual experiment that would probably be more acceptable to your wife and probably improve your sense of well-being. Namely, see if you can find a way to masturbate without porn. Or, find a way to make more room for your imagination. Find a way to develop low maintenance masturbation independent of specific porn offerings. You know you’ve made progress when all you need is images that are Safe For Work. A worthy goal: see if you can reach a point where all you need are the American Apparel ads on the GMP website.

    This will sound like a stupid, invasive question, but you did open the door: is it possible that there are ways of masturbating that you haven’t tried yet? You know there are many forms of masturbation, right? I suspect that those who feel addicted to porn also tend to be people who are increasingly vigorous and one-dimensional in their technique. Being in a porn rut usually means being in a masturbation rut as well – they tend to reinforce each other. Get rid of the kung-fu death grip and try some variety. Make some time for daydreaming. Come at it from the inside out.

    The central problem may not be that you’re too dependent on porn. It may be that you’re too dependent on outside things in the first place.

  12. I’ve now gone a month without porn, the longest no-porn stretch since I was 13.

    I can say that there are pros and cons to this. My erections are better, I’m not as sulky if I don’t get sex, and I feel more confident about my own self-control and in turn my masculinity.

    The cons have been a lot less ferocious as I thought they would be. One con is that I don’t get a sexual fantasy on demand. Maybe once or twice a week this really bums me out and makes me feel sort of spurned by my choice. I also feel sort of isolated and old fashioned. My friends all watch porn. I used to spend a good deal of time watching it to pass the time, and now I don’t really know how to get instant relaxation. My wife can’t tell if I’m becoming some sort of religious ascetic, and frankly, would probably rather me watch porn to curb certain desires that she rather not fufill.

    All said and done, I’ve committed myself to live porn- free for three months, and with one month down, I’m suprisingly hopeful in good things to come. I don’t know if everyone should live a pron free life, but for me, its becoming a good fit, or at least I am a good fit for it.

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