If you feel that you struggle with pornography addiction, you are not alone and there are several things that can be done to break the habit and find support.

What are the symptoms and why do they happen?

When someone is viewing pornography, there is a release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine that activates the body’s reaction to sexual pleasure. If pornography is viewed frequently, there is a continuous overstimulation of dopamine, and over time this has caused thousands of men to be unable to perform sexually with their partner. There are physical and psychological symptoms that occur as a result of decreased sensitivity from the overstimulation of dopamine. The physical symptoms include sexual dysfunctions that have become so widespread that there is now a specific type of erectile dysfunction called PIED, or porn-induced erectile dysfunction. Other physical symptoms include delayed ejaculation, meaning difficulty reaching climax with a partner, and fatigue. There are often psychological symptoms reported as well, like low self-esteem, lack of motivation, decreased libido, and a feeling described as “brain fog”.

What can be done?

In 2011, Alexander Rhodes created a website, NoFap.com, for those who are struggling with a pornography habit, and since has created a movement called “No Fap”. Fap is a term used frequently on the internet meaning masturbation. There are thousands who find support on this site where they can freely discuss their stories of sexual dysfunction and encourage each other to change their habits. The No Fap movement and website was created to help keep others accountable during the process of “rebooting”, where you no longer view pornography for the purpose of returning your body’s response dopamine, and therefore sexual arousal, back to normal. The only suggested guideline is to not view any artificial sexual stimulation. Those who have successfully stopped viewing pornography report that they noticed a decrease in social anxiety, an increase in confidence and energy, and found real partners exciting again.

If you are a parent of a teen, understand that many teens have access to pornography through their smart phones, and may be viewing it without understanding the consequences. A study completed in 2012 reported that 71% of teens have done something to hide what they do online from their parents. If you are concerned about your teen and struggle with talking to them about pornography, Clarity has a great resource for you. Transformed is our faith-based upper middle school to high school education program for teens and their parents that discusses pornography and many other helpful topics. Learn more about the program here.