No Porn Challenge [November]

The Challenge

You might be familiar with “No Fap November”, where ‘Fap’ is the internet slang for masturbation. In that challenge people pledge to go 30 days without masturbating. However, the focus here is to avoid looking at internet (or other) pornography for the month of November, and hopefully beyond. You can of course try to stop both at the same time!

Health Implications

Frequent use of internet porn can be considered a form of addiction. In studies up to 2016 it was shown that over 25% of porn users were showing signs of problematic use. The symptoms that can occur from repeated use of pornography include:

  • Desensitisation. The scenarios viewed on internet porn sites can be much more arousing than sexual intercourse with a single partner. The ability to pick specific videos to optimise your arousal has negative effects when you return to real life. In its strongest form this can result in erectile dysfunction.
  • Males can suffer from copulatory impotence. This is when they can only maintain an erection while watching porn, and not with a partner.
  • There can be a loss of libido where interest in intercourse drops. If this happens it’s often replaced by a desire to continue viewing pornography.
  • Frequency of masturbation can increase, which has been shown to decrease the pleasure response, “numbing” the brain to its effects.
  • Other changes can include reduced confidence, increased social anxiety, depression, inability to concentrate and brain fog. These are linked to changes to the reward circuitry in the brain and the release of dopamine.

Rewiring The Brain

Your brain is strengthening the connections between nerve cells relating to porn use in a process called neuroplasticity – similar to how you form a habit. This habit is unfortunately damaging, and you’re making it easier for your brain to turn this into an automatic behaviour. The bad news is that every experience of watching porn (and masturbating to it) has strengthened this circuit and reinforced the habit.

There is no level at which porn use doesn’t affect the brain. A study found 1 in 6 high school seniors who consumed porn more than once a week experienced abnormally low sexual desire.

Tips

  • My only source here is the very comprehensive website yourbrainonporn.com. They suggest a “reboot” which you can read in full here, with specific tips found here.
  • Avoid all artificial sexual stimulation. That includes videos, images, webcam sites, erotic literature, and is not limited to what’s classified as “porn”. Don’t go browsing for bikini clad women on Instagram either! #bikini
  • Destroy any stored forms of porn. That means DVDs, magazines, downloads and bookmarked web pages.
  • Consider adding a web filter that blocks all porn content on your computer, similar to a Safe Search. This only works if someone else sets the password and doesn’t share it with you.
  • Check out stories from others and visit Reddit forums such as Porn Free, No Fap, and Reboot Nation.
  • Read up on it. The more you understand of the damaging effects to your brain, the more determination it should give you to quit. Just knowing that porn may lead to erectile dysfunction or reduced sexual desire can be enough to quit for good.
  • Don’t undo all the hard work in November by going straight back to porn on December 1st. Some of the positive changes take 2-3 months to notice.

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