How to know you’re addicted to porn + 5 reasons why you should stop

by Jon Axworthy

Man Aiming Remote Control

What started as a handy way to relieve tension now absorbs hours of your free time; it has you missing the walking dead because you were busy watching intercourse with a vampire. Pornography still generates more internet traffic than anything else online. And it can impact on more than just your download limits: Charlie Sheen’s ex-wife Denise Richards cited his ‘habit’ in divorce proceedings.

Yet porn is the convenience food to the haute cuisine of real sex. While that microwave burger is quick and cheap, it will ultimately leave you feeling dirty – and not in a good way. Here’s how to put steak au poivre back on your menu.

Symptoms

• You’ve missed dates or family engagements because you were ‘otherwise engaged’
• You’re stressed about people finding out about your habit
• You’re starting to believe that every woman harbours slutty desires and acrobatic flexibility
• You can name at least 15 different porn stars
• The content you seek out is getting stronger – or just a lot weirder
• You’ve tried to access porn at work, or at a friend or family member’s house
• You no longer enjoy ‘vanilla’ sex with real women

Diagnosis

While we’re sure Jenna Haze and Sasha Grey are perfectly lovely women, it is not a good idea to spend too much virtual time with them. “Your feel-good hormone dopamine spikes when you watch porn,” says Dr Chris Forester from counselling service Help Porn Addiction. “In time, this over-stimulation manifests as a loss of libido and erectile dysfunction 30 years too early.” This is why users demand increasingly extreme videos.

Masturbation causes the release of the same chemicals as sex with a partner, forming a biochemical attachment – except with websites rather than people. It can even affect your career: a study by Nielsen Online found more than a quarter of employees have watched online porn during the working day.

French research has also linked the compelling nature of porn to your brain’s ‘mirror neuron system’. This skews your expectations of what sex should be like. “Porn has a way of normalising extreme sexual behaviour,” says Dr Tim Jones, a psychologist at the University of Worcester. “If you try to play out this fantasy with an unwilling partner, it can cause irreparable damage to your relationship.” It’s time to log off, gentlemen.

MH prescription

If you can’t resist tapping ‘.xxx’ into the url bar, remove the thing that triggers you to log on: being left alone with your laptop. “Keep your computer and DVD player in a busy room,” says Dr Phillippa Lally, who studies habitual behaviour at University College London. Your brain associates laptops and phones with porn, so find other habitual uses for your gadgetry. Tweeting or uploading to Instagram is perfect.

Now you need to admit that you’ve been indulging too much – to someone else. “The habit loses some of its appeal when it’s no longer covert,” says Lally. “Ask a close friend to install an internet filter on your laptop.” McAfee Safe Eyes or NetNanny block your access unless you tap in the password your friend sets. Sites such as helpaddictions.org offer a similar service, providing ‘accountability software’ that will send a report of your online behaviour to a therapist.

“Most guys first come to porn simply because they are bored,” says Forester. Find moreish replacements for your X-rated downtime such as a hardcore Call Of Duty sitting or a heavy squats session at the gym. Exercise will boost the dopamine that’s depleted by heavy porn use.

Finally, if you’re in bed reading this next to a non-pixelated lady, your rehab can start now. Sex triggers a psychological high greater than that of masturbation, according to the Kinsey Institute. Your brain will soon crave the rush your partner gives you more than anything PornHub has to offer.

Five top reasons to stop

1. Feel happier

You’ll take fewer sick days and be less likely to experience a bout of depression compared with men who still watch a lot of porn.

2. Avoid heart attacks

Men with erectile dysfunction are 1.6 times more likely to suffer heart disease. By quitting porn, you’ll strengthen your ticker.

3. A higher libido

When you avoid 2D distractions on porn sites, your appetite for real sex increases. With interest.

4. Healthier swimmers

An Australian study showed that abnormal sperm cells decreased by 12% in men who had sex every day for a week.

5. Get stronger

No one said porn was all bad. A moderate 4min indulgence before hitting the gym will deliver a performance-enhancing peak in your testosterone levels. Just remember to stop at 4min.

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Read this article in Men’sHealth

 

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