Am I Addicted to Porn-Induced Masturbation?

Dr R. Y. Langham

May 19, 2022

Your brain is designed to seek pleasure as quickly as possible. For instance, when you spend time preparing for a work presentation and end up knocking it out of the box, you are going to feel fantastic afterward. When you meet someone and fall in love with him or her, your brain triggers extra dopamine, the “happy hormone.” Dopamine triggers feelings of happiness, joy, excitement, and satisfaction in the body.

So, to sum it up, you put in work and effort to gain something positive in the end. But what if you could get a dopamine boost without putting in any effort? What if you could click on a website and get that jolt of the “happy hormone?” An instant reward at the click of a mouse? Well, it is possible and it is called “porn-induced masturbation.”

You do not have to put in any effort with porn. All you have to do is sit down and power up your electronic device than google “porn” and voila, you are treated with a variety of porn sites (featuring every type of sex act possible on a screen). The truth is watching porn is easy… and accessible. While you stare at the porn on the screen, you become sexually aroused. You begin to masturbate and once finished, you experience a “porn high.” Masturbating to porn helps release your pent-up sexual tension, leading to contentment, glee, euphoria, and sexual satisfaction.

So, are you addicted to masturbating to porn? It is definitely possible.

What is Masturbation?

Masturbation involves the self-stimulation (touching) of your sexual organs. The goal of this act or practice is to achieve sexual satisfaction and/or sexual climax. It may also be used to help relieve stress, anxiety, boredom, and pent-up sexual tension. Both males and females engage in masturbation; however, it appears to be more common in males.

Masturbation is a common “adult activity.” It is a natural and safe way to explore your body and learn what excites you. People of all ages, sexual orientations, educational backgrounds, religions, cultures, economic statuses, genders, and races masturbate. And, despite the myth that masturbation is harmful, immoral, or unhealthy, performing this sexual act from time to time does not cause adverse effects.

However, masturbating too much can negatively affect your self-confidence and relationships. Excessive masturbation can also lead to masturbation addiction or porn addiction if “porn use” is involved. It is important to note that masturbation does not always lead to addiction. In fact, occasionally masturbating when sexual intercourse is impossible (at the time) can actually be healthy, fun, gratifying, and relieving.

Is Masturbating Healthy and Normal?

Yes, it is.

Studies suggest that masturbating is both normal and healthy. Although most people consider this topic taboo and do not talk about it with other people, almost everyone does it or has done it at one time.

Is It Okay to Masturbate If You Are in a Relationship?

Yes, it is!

Many people in committed relationships masturbate. And, some couples masturbate together – sometimes to porn and sometimes without it. Understand that masturbating alone does not automatically mean you are not sexually satisfying your partner or vice versa. It is often a good way to explore your body and determine what sexually arouses you, for instance, what you like and do not like during foreplay and sexual intercourse.

If you know what sexually satisfies you, you can share this information with your partner or spouse. Talking about sex with your beloved can make the act more enjoyable for both of you. It can also prevent you and/or your partner or spouse from becoming too reliant on external vices, like porn to sexually arouse and fulfill you. In some cases, masturbating, for instance, during foreplay, can strengthen your emotional bond and draw you closer together.

Masturbating can also be an alternative to having sexual intercourse. In other words, some couples, especially younger ones, and those, who are not ready to have sex can masturbate together without having to worry about becoming pregnant or contracting a sexually-transmitted disease (STD).

Does Masturbation Come with Side Effects?

It can…

Normal masturbation (once or twice a day or occasionally) does not come with dangerous or harmful side effects. However, some people, who masturbate feel shame and guilt about it, especially if they are religious or Christian, or if it has become a “habit.” Guilt and shame can also arise if masturbating goes against a person’s morals, ethics, and/or spiritual, religious, or cultural beliefs.

People, who masturbate to porn may become addicted to porn. These individuals are unable to experience healthy sex lives with their real-life partners or spouses, and tend to rely on sexual acts on a screen or in a magazine or book to sexually arouse and satisfy them. Porn-related masturbation can wreak havoc on your self-confidence, relationships, and/or emotional and sexual health.

The truth is masturbating is not immoral and you are not “depraved” or “evil” because you do it. This even applies to porn addicts who excessively masturbate to porn. So, although you may hear messages that masturbation or “self-pleasure” is “unclean” and “shameful,” that is simply not true.

BUT if masturbating makes you feel guilty or ashamed, talk to someone you trust about how you feel. Porn addiction therapists with a specialty in sexual health and sexual addictions can help you learn how to spend more time sexually connecting with your partner or spouse and less time watching other people have sex on screen.

Can Masturbating Lead to Reduced Sexual Sensitivity?

Yes and no…

Adults with sexual dysfunction, who also masturbate, may experience better sexual stimulation, which can boost sexual desire and sensitivity. Studies found that women and men, who use vibrators, may experience an improvement in sexual arousal, desire, function, and satisfaction. Women masturbators also report being more lubricated, while men masturbators report having better erectile function.

On the flip side, some researchers have found that masturbation negatively affects a man’s penal sensitivity during sex. For instance, if a man masturbates too roughly or holds his penis too tightly while masturbating, it could cause his penal sensations to decline. What should you do if you experience decreased penal sensitivity? Loosen your group and change your masturbation method. This will help reawaken your penal nerves during foreplay and sex.

Can a Person Masturbate Too Much?

Absolutely.

It is okay to masturbate once or twice a day. Masturbating is only concerning if it is linked to “heavy porn use” or porn addiction, and is causing relationship problems (i.e., emotional detachment, lack of intimacy, etc.) or sexual dysfunction (i.e., erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, sexual dissatisfaction, or anorgasmia).

It can also become a problem if masturbating causes you to forego time with friends and family, self-isolate, neglect work, personal, household, and parenting responsibilities, and/or affects your self-esteem and self-confidence. So, if masturbating does not appear to be affecting you or your partner or spouse, and you can still perform essential functions, such as going to work or school, then, in most cases, it is perfectly fine to regularly masturbate.

What Causes Excessive Masturbation?

Although masturbation can be healthy, sometimes, masturbating can become excessive.

Some causes of excessive masturbation include:

  • Depression or Anxiety

    If you are going through a hard time, possibly due to trauma, an unhealthy relationship, mental illness, loneliness, etc., you may excessively masturbate. Because you are depressed or anxious, you may be vulnerable to excessive masturbation and porn addiction. You may turn to porn and/or masturbation to ease unpleasant emotions (i.e., uplift your mood and reduce your stress and anxiety).

  • Compulsive Sexual Behaviors (Masturbating to Porn)

    Compulsive sexual behaviors are associated with an increased response to sexually-explicit actions, such as compulsively masturbating to porn. According to a 2015 study, masturbating to porn can activate certain regions in the brain (neuro-pathways) that are linked to pleasure and rewards. This is similar to the “high” that a drug addict gets from doing drugs.

    The “high” is the reward. In the case of porn and masturbation, the “high” comes from engaging in these two behaviors at the same time and achieving a “release” or orgasm. Sexual or pornographic images, videos, magazines, movies, etc., can “boost” your dopamine levels and trigger your internal reward system, especially when porn is combined with masturbation.

  • Emotional Upset

    Personal, work, friendship, relationship, and/or financial issues can cause emotional upset, which could cause you to turn to porn and masturbation as a form of “relief.” It is natural for people, who are experiencing emotional distress to want to “escape” from it.

    However, when some people spend too much time alone, it is easier for them to seek refuge in the “porn world” and it is easier to release pent-up sexual and non-sexual tension by masturbating. If you experience high levels of stress, anxiety, or emotional distress, masturbating may become your go-to stress-reliever causing you to excessively masturbate to porn.

Can a Person Become Addicted to Masturbation?

Yes, a person can become addicted to masturbation.

Masturbation addiction (excessive masturbation) is a complicated condition that can cause psychological and emotional issues, and a “fixation” on “self-gratification.” Masturbation addiction is also a progressive condition, in which people continue to masturbate, even though they know there may be negative personal, relationship, economic, work, and social consequences associated with doing so.

The good news is excessive masturbation is treatable, however many masturbation addicts are hesitant to seek help for it, especially when excessive masturbation is linked to porn addiction. Some people are afraid to seek treatment because of a fear of being labeled a “masturbation addict.” These individuals may be ashamed of their behavior, especially when masturbation is combined with porn addiction.

Masturbation addiction typically arises when you are unable to quell your thoughts and urges to masturbate (obsession), leading to compulsively engaging in the behavior (masturbation). Truth be told, the term “masturbation addict” is a controversial concept, primarily because there is simply not enough valid data to support it being a diagnosable behavioral addiction.

Masturbation addiction is sometimes referred to as “compulsive masturbation” because it resembles OCD (obsessions and compulsions). Unfortunately, however, the social stigma, shame, and guilt associated with this type of addiction can prevent people from reporting it, leading to limited data.

Even though masturbation can be healthy when practiced in moderation, “heavy masturbation” can trigger a host of unpleasant side effects and consequences. But regardless of if masturbation is healthy or unhealthy, it is still considered “forbidden” by many people. Still, a 2018 study suggests that approximately 78% of adults engage in masturbation.

The Only Way for Me to Become Sexually Excited and Orgasm is to Masturbate to Porn – Is That a Problem?

It could be a problem.

While it is common for some people to masturbate to porn, it only becomes a problem when it affects your emotional, mental, physical, or sexual health. It is also a problem if masturbating to porn is negatively affecting your life, self-esteem and self-confidence, and relationships. In other words, if you feel shame, guilty, depression, anxiety, or emotionally upset after masturbating to porn, it is time to seek sex or porn addiction treatment.

Treatment may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), individual therapy, couples or marital counseling, addictions therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), along with self-help tools, lifestyle changes, and/or antidepressants like SSRIs, SNRIs, or tricyclic antidepressants.

What Should I Do If I am Excessively Masturbating to Porn?

It is common and normal to be confused and upset once you realize what you are doing (masturbating or masturbating to porn). But, truthfully, masturbating in moderation, is totally healthy and acceptable. A problem arises when this activity takes over your life – i.e., causes you to develop low self-esteem, neglect your responsibilities, lose your job, and/or when it causes problems in your relationship. When masturbating to porn interferes with your daily function and/or causes unhappiness – on your end or your partner’s end, it is a problem that must be addressed. Fortunately, there are things you can do to get on the path to recovery.

Listed below are self-help tactics that can help you stop masturbating or masturbating to porn:

  • Replace masturbating and using porn with a healthier habit

    Select a new habit to replace masturbating to porn. Try to pick a habit that resembles the habit you want to stop watching porn and/or masturbating to porn. Then, write down your daily schedule and see how you can incorporate it into your day, for instance, at night once everyone is asleep. In this case, the new habit could be to pull out a juicy or interesting book and read it when you get the urge to view porn or when you usually masturbate to porn.

    Or, perhaps the new habit could involve drawing, painting, sculpting, cooking, strumming a guitar, or playing with playdoh or on a piano – to keep your hands busy. The best scenario, however, involves getting outside for some fresh air while doing something to keep you busy, like jogging, hiking, swimming, playing tennis, joining a sports team, gardening, playing softball, riding a bike, fishing, golfing, walking, sunbathing, etc.

  • Avoid or remove triggers that make you want to masturbate to porn

    What makes you want to masturbate or masturbate to porn? Do not know? Well, there is an easy fix for that. Purchase a journal or notebook and when you feel urges to masturbate write down what is happening at that moment and what happened before you started to feel that way. Once you have written down how you are feeling and what led up to those feelings, identify what made you want to masturbate.

    Perhaps, you saw a sexy girl or guy at a restaurant, club, bar, or walking down the street that triggered an urge to view porn and masturbate. Or, maybe the trigger was a Victoria’s Secret commercial or a sex scene in a movie or television show you were watching. A trigger is anything that compels you to engage in a specific behavior or perform a certain action.

    Once you have identified your trigger(s) avoid or remove them from your environment to help you successfully quit your porn and masturbation habit. For instance, install an anti-porn blocker on your electronic devices, throw away your porn magazines, delete pornographic or sexually-explicit images from your phone and computer, etc.

  • Develop a step-by-step plan to slowly stop this habit

    The first thing you will need to do is write down 1-3 goals you would like to achieve to help you stop masturbating to porn. Then, you will need to develop an action plan, complete with milestones and deadlines.

    For instance, “I want to only watch porn and masturbate 1/2 of the day (instead of all day long) for two months.” Then, “I want to only masturbate to porn for a quarter of the day (¼ of the day or a couple of hours) for two months – and so on and so on.” Celebrate by doing something you enjoy when you complete a milestone. But make sure that the celebration does not include porn or mastubating.

  • Do not beat yourself up if you relapse

    The worst thing you can do is to criticize or judge yourself for giving into temptation. Remember, becoming free from porn addiction that involves excessive masturbation is a process. It will take time, effort, and persistence. And, it will not happen overnight. So, there may be times when you relapse either from masturbating or using porn. And, if the two activities are combined, there is a possibility you could experience a relapse with both. It happens and does not define your journey towards becoming porn- and masturbation-free.

  • Talk to your partner

    If you feel like you are masturbating too much, talk to your partner about it. While it is normal to be embarrassed about masturbating when you are in a relationship, it is fairly common. However, it is imperative that you tell your partner if you do not feel that you are being sexually fulfilled in your relationship. Maybe, he or she will be open to changing up your normal sex routines to try a new approach.

    Your partner may be open to recreating your sexual fantasies in the bedroom. Or, maybe he or she can be a support system for you to keep you going when you want to give up. But regardless of your fears or the outcome, it is important to always be honest with your partner. If he or she feels lied to or betrayed it will harm your relationship.

  • See a therapist

    If you cannot stop masturbating, despite the consequences, it may be time to see a sex therapist. And, if you cannot stop masturbating to porn, it may be time to see a porn addiction therapist. If porn and/or masturbating is affecting your quality of life, it is definitely time to seek therapy.

    A therapist can help you get to the root cause of why you feel compelled to engage in this habit. Then, he or she will develop a treatment plan to help you learn healthy coping skills and strategies for when urges to masturbate or masturbate to porn arise.

    Moreover, if you feel shame and guilt about masturbating or masturbating to porn, a therapist can help you work through these feelings. Sexual addiction and/or porn addiction support groups can also provide you with support, encouragement, tips, and a feeling of belonging while you work on stopping your habit and regaining your life.

  • Invest in an online porn addiction recovery program

    Online porn addiction recovery programs, like Stop Together, can help you get back on your feet if you have a sex habit, like masturbating or masturbating to porn. Stop Together can provide you with the tools, resources, confidence, courage, and strength to say no to porn or to masturbating to porn.

    The goal of these programs is to provide comfort, support, and 24/7 accessibility to the help you need to quit your sex or porn addiction. After completing a porn addiction recovery program, you will feel like a whole new person.