Nofap basically means that you stop masturbating and take a break from all artificial sexual stimulation for an extended period. You do this in order to reset your brain to properly respond to women and eliminate any erectile dysfunction. It also has other benefits such as mental clarity and increased discipline. Evolution simply has not designed our brains to have access to broadband pornographic videos on demand in 50 separate tabs. None of our ancestors or even parents have had access to this kind of sexual stimulus on demand.
Some of the benefits of Nofap include:
- increased testosterone & testosterone receptors
- mental clarity
- increased productivity
- more intense sexual experiences
- stronger erections
- increased morning wood & wet dreams
- more life enjoyment
- more discipline
- better relationships
If you want to know how exactly this works or if you’re not familiar with the concept of nofap, read on!
First, we have to understand dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that does everything from modulating attention, helping with movement, to guiding behavior. Depending on where in the body it is, it does different things. But for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on dopamine’s effects in the mesolimbic pathway. This is an important brain region. It links the frontal cortex responsible for decision making, to the nucleus accumbens, our brain’s reward center.
Here, dopamine reinforces winning behavior (such as sex with a beautiful woman). But it’s not just when you experience success or something pleasurable. It’s also when you lose and get close to the reward. If you almost killed a gazelle that would have fed you for a week, yet let it get away, you get a dopamine surge. Thus, it’s not really a pleasure molecule. It’s more like a molecule that makes you chase success/fun/novelty, at least in this part of your brain.
The “feel-good” chemicals, on the other hand, are opiates such as endorphins. But orgasm causes a rush of endorphins, not dopamine.
Novelty is an addiction for us. When you masturbate to a pornographic actress or have sex with a new girl, your brain releases dopamine. As a result, you ejaculate quickly. This will produce one of the largest dopamine surges in humans. This is because you’re doing what’s best for your genes: reproducing and passing them on. Dopamine is “the addiction chemical”, as it’s what keeps you pursuing things like drug, alcohol or sex. But we need dopamine to motivate us. Chasing things like food, sex, friendship, the latest iPhone, etc. are basically us just reacting to dopamine.
If you keep watching the same actress or keep having sex with the same girl, you produce less semen. You also produce less semen overall and the semen you do produce is less motile (able to move quickly). But as soon as you bring a new girl into the picture, you produce more sperm, faster sperm, and ejaculate faster. This gives you a giant dopamine rush. You are wired to pursue novelty.
Frequent masturbation inhibits dopamine and libido for several days. Say for example you orgasm (without porn) and listen to your body’s “I’m done” signals, taking a break, and basking in the sexual satiety for a while. In this case, you’re probably normal and don’t have a porn addiction. If instead you resort to more extreme genres of porn, spend more time watching it, or have another session after you’ve already ejaculated, you’re probably looking at a porn addiction. Make no mistake, there are few people that would not be better off just eliminating porn viewing from their entire lives.
With all that being said, you shouldn’t demonize dopamine. Playing with your kid or seeing a puppy produces a dopamine surge too. You only abuse dopamine when your habits get out of control. This can apply to porn, cell phone addiction, food, etc.
Unfortunately, our brain is bad at telling the difference between porn and a real woman. Porn is available 24/7 and provides unlimited novelty that’s just a click away. I have often spent hours on a single masturbation session just looking for new porn and new tabs to open. This is especially bad during adolescence. It’s at this time when our brains are vulnerable to addiction where porn will sculpt our sexual reward circuitry. You are not only tricking your brain into thinking that you’re passing on your genes and having sex, but you’re also flooding yourself with dopamine due to the novelty and accessibly of internet porn. You are literally frying your dopamine receptors with this kind of super-stimulus.
Once you’re used to looking at porn in your adolescence, you could have trouble getting an erection with a real woman. This is literally exactly what happened to me. Of course, being able to switch between porn genres and skip to the good parts of each video is going to make a regular normal girl not seem all that great. In fact, it will feel foreign if internet porn is all you’re used to. After I quit masturbating compulsively, my erections and sexual performance vastly improved. Unfortunately, the porn addiction still exists even if you switch to only regular sex. It’s almost like having normal sex just supercharges the porn addiction pathways in my brain that I built up during adolescence.
Porn is especially insidious because it shares the same reward circuit nerve cells that drugs like meth, cocaine, or heroin do. But unlike food or drugs, there’s no physical limitation on porn consumption. At no point do you actually have to orgasm unless you ejaculate, and even then, you can just start over. The addiction doesn’t end when you leave the computer. Instead of fantasizing about girls you can also fantasize about porn to give you a little hit of feel-good chemicals. The generation that grew up on Playboy magazines just won’t have the same level of addiction as millennials. Porn also has a “shock and surprise” factor that gives you some anxiety. There is no way a Playboy magazine comes close to replicating this level of stimulus.
Studies have proven that video pornography is far more addictive than static images like that found in Playboy. Having 50 tabs going each with different porn stars magnifies this even more. Or when you keep skipping to the good parts of each video. And also when you can switch between porn genres and keep diving deeper and deeper into the more extreme genres of pornography. And it’s magnified much more when you start early in adolescence, as that’s when your brain circuitry is its most malleable.
Unlike drugs, you can keep your dopamine levels elevated for abnormally long periods of time because porn is accessible, free, and private. You can keep escalating into more hardcore porn, which our ancestors could not. The dopamine rush with passing on your genes (orgasm) is the most rewarding experience possible for our brain (unlike drugs or other addictions). As a result, your brain will seek to replicate the things you did to get to that point of orgasm. Once porn has reinforced the pathways in your brain, this is going to be one of the toughest addictions to break, even worse than drugs.
At the same time, since your brain is getting its fill of sex and what it thinks is reproduction (ejaculating to a woman on a screen), you’re simultaneously reducing your sensitivity to a real-life woman and her ability to turn you on. So, you are sensitized to porn and desensitized to real women. This leads to porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED), and it’s getting more and more common with young men today.
Your brain basically evolved to put sex and reproduction at the top of your list, food second, and other dopamine-releasing activities third. You have separate circuitry for getting addicted to sex, and also food. But you do not have separate brain circuitry for alcohol, heroin, coke, meth, etc. In fact, several animal studies have shown that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. Watch out for PMO and food; they’re two of the most powerful addictions you can ever have if they get really bad.
When you are sensitized to porn, your executive functioning in your brain that is responsible for your decision making will be severely weakened. Say for example you spend a night drinking and go home without a girl. It’s at this point where your ability to resist masturbating to porn will be at an all-time low.
Here is some research on what porn, masturbation, and orgasm do to the brain if you’re still not convinced.
Endogenous opioid-induced neuroplasticity of dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area influences natural and opiate reward.
This study shows that sex and drugs both have the same effect on our reward center (the nucleus accumbens). It examines what happens to the VTA (ventral tegmental area). This is the source of most of our dopamine when exposed to sex and drugs. The VTA’s neurons shrink in both sex and heroin addicts temporarily. This study basically proves that drugs, porn, and sex don’t really differ in their mechanisms, even though they don’t all to the same thing. But your brain can’t tell the difference. This is why some heroin addicts say that shooting up feels like an orgasm. But this doesn’t mean that sex is bad, just that drugs hijack the same processes as an orgasm.
Cue-induced cocaine craving: neuroanatomical specificity for drug users and drug stimuli.
This study shows that cocaine addicts don’t have a unique neural pathway that feeds their addiction. The neural pathway is similar to that used for sex. Several subjects were shown videos of people smoking crack cocaine, nature scenes, and porn. The subjects had cocaine and porn addictions both had virtually the same brain activation patterns.
DeltaFosB in The Nucleus Accumbens is Critical For Reinforcing Effects of Sexual Reward. (2010)
This study shows that the DeltaFosB protein activates genes involved with addiction. It creates virtually the same molecular changes with both chronic drug use and chronic sex addiction. This protein is released in large amounts and is what causes us to “binge” when our brain thinks we found the evolutionary jackpot (like junk food or internet porn). In a healthy individual, this protein is released slowly for normal activities like sex, food, aerobic exercise, hobbies, etc.
But both drugs and internet porn hijack the same pathways that sex does (which is the most rewarding human experience). Therefore, the type of addiction is basically the same and you should treat it the same. If you know you’re addicted, get ready to go to incredible lengths to fight this.
If you’re curious more about the science of nofap, check out Your Brain on Porn.
I had wired my brain to respond to internet porn in my adolescence. The only way for me to really abstain is to quit completely where I don’t masturbate or look at porn or cum at all (such as a 90-day challenge). I had been looking at porn before I lost my virginity. The results were disastrous. I couldn’t get an erection for the first girl and had problems with losing my erection or getting one with newer girls. Because of this, I had also developed performance anxiety on top of my porn-induced erectile dysfunction. So, I found out about the effects of porn and masturbation on the brain and decided to do a challenge.
I had quit masturbation & sex, avoided sexual stimulus as much I could for 2 months, and improved. But jacking off even just once would cause me to relapse and go back to looking at porn all the time. Because the reward circuitry for porn addiction and drug addiction is very similar, getting drunk on random weekend nights for me and not having to orgasm was impossible. I had to either have sex or masturbate to porn. Even if I have normal healthy sex, I’ll still want to look at porn the next day, even if I hadn’t been watching it. One time I even left a girl’s house because I couldn’t cum and figured I’d just go watch some porn. This is because I had sensitized myself to porn, and desensitized myself towards real women.
Both evolution and your brain want you to repeat (what it thinks) are going to increase your chances of passing on your genes. The sad truth is that I had fried my dopamine receptors and forged pathways in my brain that would reinforce porn usage to the point that it’s almost set in stone. I had even thought I had beat porn addiction before and that it wasn’t really a big deal. But I’ve relapsed multiple times since then.
If you’re in the same boat, just remember that a dude masturbating twice a month is leagues ahead of the dude that masturbates twice a day. I have cut the amount of time I waste on porn down drastically, and combined with penis enlargement exercises that improve your erectile function and stamina, my sex life has dramatically improved. I have pretty rock hard erections now and don’t lose my boner nearly as often. The ultimate goal for me is to be able to remove porn from my life completely at some point. I never want to wake up and mindlessly rush to the computer in the middle of the night again because I’m addicted to porn and have to have it.
Rebooting (90 Day Challenge)
Now that you know about the effect that porn has on the brain, you can recognize if you have a problem and quit. A 90-day challenge of no porn, masturbation, orgasm, or any artificial sexual stimulation will usually suffice.
Avoid all of the following:
- Porn, masturbation, orgasm, and sex. None at all.
- Edging (sex or masturbation without ejaculation).
- Looking at Instagram models or other hot girls on social media.
- Swiping on Tinder or other dating sites/apps.
- Playing with yourself or touching your dick in the shower.
- Fantasizing about any girls, pornographic or otherwise.
- Cuddling, holding hands or going on dates.
- Erotic images of any kind.
Everything is off-limits; you need to cut yourself off from all sexual stimulus for 3 months. This is what the community calls hard mode. Yes, porn is the main culprit. But…staying away from other things such as masturbating or social media is going to both repair your dopamine receptors faster and make it less likely that you will relapse and go on a maniacal porn binge.
Easy mode on the other hand consists of still masturbating but cutting out porn (which is really the main culprit behind porn-induced erectile dysfunction).
Eventually, if you’re doing this right, you will reach the flatline phase. At this point, you might lose all libido and your dick will feel like it no longer has the ability to work. This phase is scary because it could last anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months, meaning that you have to extend your reboot to get the full effects. This phase scares most dudes. But if you persevere through it, you’ll come out the other side with a healthy libido and will be able to get your dick up when it counts (while you’re with an actual girl).
However, keep in mind that the effects of porn on your brain could potentially last a lifetime. If you actually have PIED, it would be better to pull out all the stops and go full-tilt. You will be way less likely to relapse if you don’t touch your dick at all, trust me. Porn has fried your dopamine receptors, and you need to take a complete break to give your neural pathways time to heal. Though you’re welcome to try, easy mode just might not do it. Go all in and do hard mode.
Some guys have recovered by simply cutting out porn and masturbation, and only getting off via sex (aka. normal mode). This is fine because you’re also rewiring your brain to seek arousal from real women instead of pixels on a screen. If you feel like you’re not super addicted, this could be an option for you.
After your reboot, I suggest going back to normal mode, especially if you had PIED or started watching porn in adolescence. You don’t want to relapse and possibly go on a bad porn binge.
If you do relapse, start the challenge over, but don’t beat yourself up over it as long as you tried your best. This is a tough thing to quit; tougher than actual drugs for many people. As long as your lifestyle has improved, you’ve won. A guy that masturbates to porn once a week is in a completely different position and has a different brain chemistry than a guy that masturbates to porn 3 times a day.
If you need another source of motivation, here are some of the benefits users have reported from Nofap:
While the actual benefits of nofap will vary person to person, many in the community (fapstronauts) believe they get “superpowers” by abstaining from porn. My theory is that many of these are less from the porn and more from limiting your dopamine. Any time you make your life harder and rely less on external stimulus, you are going to see a range of cognitive benefits. Nonetheless, here are some of the most common benefits of quitting porn:
PMO boosts testosterone by 145% just when you get to the 7th day. Then, it goes back to normal and after 3 months your testosterone levels become lower than when you started. However, studies on rats have shown that abstaining from sex increases testosterone receptors in your body. This means your body is actually utilizing the testosterone better and it’s not just floating around in your bloodstream. Presumably, this is why nofappers claim to feel the benefits of increased testosterone well after the first week of nofap.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone that gives us our drive and motivation. It helps regulate a whole host of processes in our body. This perhaps is the reason why nofappers claim to experience all these great improvements in well-being, motivation, etc. So keep testosterone in mind as a possible explanation for Nofap benefits.
Mental clarity and less brain fog
Nofappers most often report increased mental sharpness and lack of brain fog. My theory is that ejaculation releases opioids which makes it harder to focus. Imagine trying to get something done while high on morphine. One Reddit user reported “It feels like I am getting smarter and it just makes everything so much better. I can read things from the textbook and it makes sense the first time I read it, I wake up and remember exactly what I studied the day before and so much more.”
When you fix your reward circuit, you have the ability to actually get stuff done instead of chasing external stimulus. Boxers like Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson would practice abstinence before a fight because they believed it made them strong. Many UFC fighters practice abstinence for the same reason. Figures in history such as George Washington, Napoleon, and Oscar Wilde, all practiced abstinence too.
Presumably, when you’re not preoccupied with having to masturbate to your favorite Pornhub goddess, your brain gets more energy to focus on other tasks.
More intense sexual experiences
After avoiding all sexual stimulus for 3 months, guess what? Yes, sex becomes amazing. Instead of craving your favorite porn genres and having your heart beat in your chest while getting a rush of anxiety as you load up Pornhub, you get this feeling instead merely from taking a girl’s panties or bra off.
Destructive erections and no more ED
Nofap is probably one of the main keys to annihilating erectile dysfunction. Unless you still have underlying performance anxiety or you’re old enough to have atherosclerosis of your penile arteries, you’ll have essentially obliterated erectile dysfunction. The only caveat is that you don’t stop your reboot while you’re in your flatline phase where your libido is low. Either way, you’ll have made progress.
Increased attention from women
This one could purely be in the imagination of fapstronauts and in the realm of the placebo effect. But they swear up and down that, ironically, they’ve received more attention from women after ceasing masturbation for long periods. Supposedly, the focus and confidence gained from abstinence, as well as the lack of neediness and thirst, causes a change in their behavior that makes them more attractive to women.
Another theory is that limbal rings, which are the dark circles around your iris and an indicator of youth, are reduced after orgasm. Supposedly, abstaining will make them larger (or at least normal), if you are a chronic masturbator.
Increased morning wood and wet dreams
Morning wood and wet dreams are your body’s way of keeping your dick in shape and making sure it still works. Naturally, if you stop masturbating, your body will take over making sure that your dick is still put to good use. While not exactly a benefit, it’s good to return your body back to the way it should be working. And of course, you will have stronger erections when you do link up with a girl again.
More life enjoyment
Remember when you were a kid and just thought everything was cool? Going on Nofap for a while brings some of that back. People who have gone on Nofap have reported taking pleasure in simple things like going for a walk, playing with your dog, or just reading a book. Whether it’s from the repaired reward system or just more free time that isn’t devoted to porn, many nofappers begin picking up older, less-entertaining hobbies, or even begin picking up new hobbies. Many find a new pleasure in fitness and going to the gym, which of course leads to improved health and possibly other benefits that nofappers claim to experience.
More discipline and self-control
Porn wreaks havoc on your brain’s executive function and self-control. When you practice abstinence for extended periods, especially when you plow through periods of intense withdrawal, you strengthen your prefrontal cortex and improve your self-discipline. The part of your brain that says “no” is stronger. So next time you want to go to the gym yet don’t want to, or are too lazy to work on an assignment, or don’t want to feed the cat, your improved inhibitory control will come in clutch. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that many successful people have practiced abstinence.
Many fapstronauts just have a new lease on life and become more positive after their reboot. When you fix your brain’s reward system, everything seems better.
After not masturbating for months, you begin to enjoy the time you spend with your significant other for more than just the sex. You will have real libido instead of porn-induced cravings/addiction. Cuddling will become more fun and you won’t “need” to have sex, but you will enjoy it. It’s nice if it happens, but also fine if it doesn’t.
If you think you have a porn/masturbation problem, or have erectile dysfunction problems, definitely do a 90-day reboot. Otherwise, if you’re curious about Nofap benefits, give it a try anyway. But take the benefits with a grain of salt; not everyone gets the same results. Many users might exaggerate the benefits.
Also, keep in mind that there are other ways to reset your dopamine and reward system. Meditation, for instance, has many researched health benefits and accomplishes a similar effect, in that it forces you to be alone with your thoughts instead of bogged down by stimulus. Basically, anything that makes your life too good and too comfortable could be bogging you down. If you have a bad habit like food or cell phone addiction, get rid of it.
My theory is that life just won’t seem that great when your normal reality is orgasming to Megan Fox clones or playing video games where you fly around the galaxy in a spaceship killing aliens. How are you going to be passionate about anything or pursue any hobbies after that kind of stimulus? If you try Nofap and don’t see the purported benefits or superpowers, then also try meditating, or cutting out your phone, video games, binge eating, Netflix, social media, etc.