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NoFap Timeline: Each Stage & What to Expect

Dr R. Y. Langham

Aug 01, 2022

So, it is the first day of your NoFap journey and your curiosity has gotten the best of you. Before committing to a NoFap Challenge, you want to know what benefits you will reap from it and what to expect during each stage of it. NoFap supporters praise the mental and physical health benefits of it, but what they neglect to tell you is that you have to clear each stage of the NoFap Challenge to experience improvement in various parts of your life. Thus, joining the NoFap Challenge is a commitment. It will not be easy or quick, but for most, it is life-changing.

Understand, however, that these stages, 5-7 of them to be precise, will likely contain many ups and downs. You may even experience a relapse or two or three, which is to be expected. However, if you have an idea of the timeline and know what to expect during each stage, you will be better equipped for any difficulties you may encounter during them. Being able to anticipate the timeline of these “tests” can help you successfully pass them. Moving through all of the stages in the timeline can help you quit porn and curb your masturbation activities.

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What is Porn Addiction?

Porn addiction involves a compulsion to watch porn. Porn addiction creates chaos and destruction in a person’s life. Porn also steals their joy and renders them defenseless against it. As a result, many porn addicts self-isolate to avoid the discovery of their “secret.” Porn addicts also tend to become ashamed of or embarrassed by their porn use. Porn addiction can also lead to termination at work and unemployment – due to frequent “callouts” and tardies. Although watching porn may start off as an innocent adult pastime, over time, it can morph into a full-blown porn addiction.

Because porn replaces real-life relationships, and real-life partners in the bedroom, porn also wrecks relationships. Partners of porn addicts tend to feel betrayed, unwanted, unattractive, and undesirable because of porn. And, porn addicts tend to prefer porn to a warm body. Some porn addicts even develop sexual dysfunctions, like porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED), impotence, low libido or sex drive, premature ejaculation (PE), performance anxiety, etc. Fortunately, porn addiction is highly treatable.

Porn addiction typically requires a multi-treatment approach involving porn addiction therapies, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and self-help tools, Stop Together, an online porn addiction recovery program, mindfulness meditation, hypnosis, semen retention, and/or the NoFap Challenge. Sometimes, other therapies may be added to the porn addiction treatment plan. These therapies may include individual therapy, group CBT therapy, trauma therapy, couples/marriage counseling, addiction therapy, grief therapy, family therapy, etc. When therapy and alternative treatments are ineffective, medication(s) may be prescribed. The most common medication is SSRI antidepressants.

What is NoFap & The NoFap Challenge?

NoFap is a life-changing website, forums, and community that provides advice, support, and information to people, who want to quit porn, chronic masturbation, or porn-induced masturbation (masturbating to porn). NoFap comes from the term, “fap,” which is another name for masturbation. NoFappers (people who practice NoFap) deliberately abstain from watching porn or masturbating to porn for a predetermined amount of time (NoFap Challenge).

Some males join NoFap for its mental health benefits, some for its physical or sexual benefits, some to recover from porn and/or masturbation addiction, some to enhance their sexual experiences in their bedrooms, some to get a grip on their sexual dysfunctions, some abstain from porn and/or masturbation because of their religious convictions, for self-improvement, or for moral reasons, etc. Regardless of the reason for joining NoFap, most NoFappers join the NoFap to curb their compulsive sexual behaviors.

NoFap detractors, along with researchers, psychologists, neuroscientists, and other medical professionals, criticize NoFap as being too outdated, ineffective, domineering, unproductive, uncontrolled, inaccurate, and simplistic. NoFap is based on Gary Wilson’s anti-porn theories. Gary Wilson’s theories are not grounded in science and he has no formal training in science or psychology.

As a result, some people believe that Wilson peddles pseudoscience when it comes to porn addiction. One of the biggest draws is that NoFap is its accessibility, support, and self-help tools. NoFap challenges people, especially porn addicts, to stop using porn and masturbating for a period of time in order to acquire the life they have always wanted. The NoFap Challenge helps porn users and addicts and chronic masturbators “reset their brains” or “refocus” on healthier endeavors.

The NoFap Challenge typically lasts between 30-90 days, although the time can be shorter or longer than this. It typically consists of 5-7 stages, depending on the individual. The NoFap Challenge also provides NoFappers with a timeline for guidance. The goal is for the NoFapper to get stuck in a stage. This timeline also tells members what to expect at each stage, so they can see if they are progressing or have stalled. As of today, the NoFap community consists of over 300,000 registered members.

What is the NoFap Timeline & What Should I Expect?

Although the NoFap journey varies from person to person, there are certain stages linked to the NoFap Challenge. This timeline typically begins with physical changes that lead to psychological benefits. Keep in mind that your journey may be different from someone else’s so do not fret if you do not reap all of the benefits of each stage. Thus, the most important thing to remember during your NoFap journey is to be patient and dedicated to the cause. 

You will likely see results if you do follow through and continue to the end. The purpose of the timeline is to provide you with a realistic idea of the various NoFap Challenge stages (i.e., length), and what you will likely experience during them. Before you begin the challenge understand that it will not be easy. Moreover, you will also experience strong urges to view porn and/or masturbate. However, if you can muster up your courage and willpower, your NoFap journey will be successful. In other words, you will become porn-free.

Stage 1 (1st Week)

Beginning the NoFap Challenge can be uplighting and empowering, but it can also be time-consuming and arduous. In fact, it could end up being the hardest thing you have ever done or will ever do in your life. NoFap Challenges are not for the “weak of heart.” No, it will take lots of effort, time, willpower, dedication, and motivation to truly quit porn or masturbating to porn. 

During this stage, you will begin to “break free” of bad habits, like using porn and replace them with healthier ones, such as exercising, volunteering at a non-profit organization, etc. Remember, the NoFap Challenge is designed to help those struggling with porn addiction, excessive or chronic masturbation, or porn-induced masturbation. Engaging in the NoFap Challenge means that you are willing to give up or abstain from watching porn, masturbating, or masturbating to porn for an extended time. 

The goal of this challenge is to give your mind and body a chance to “reset” themselves, so porn, masturbating, or masturbating to porn no longer take precedence in your life. The time you spend going through the various stages of the NoFap Challenge, also referred to as your “NoFap Timeline,” will likely be different from another person’s “NoFap Timeline.”

Day 1 – The first day of the challenge is the most exhilarating of all the stages. You recently decided to make positive changes in your life, so you are likely feeling good – about yourself and your decision. But although you feel empowered, motivated, and ready to begin this process, you are probably also experiencing some anxiety because of the uncertainty that comes with starting something new and unfamiliar. Your angst will go away as time goes on and you become more comfortable with the process. The key to success in this stage? Not over-analyzing or overthinking every feeling or thought, and taking baby steps or one step at a time.

Day 2 – On the second day, strong urges to view porn may arise. If this occurs, do not fret – it is all part of the process. In fact, you should expect to have the urges because everything is still new. These urges suggest that your body is beginning to detox (or get rid of) the extra dopamine and serotonin, hormones/neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain) that are released when you watch porn, masturbate, or masturbate to porn. Keep in mind, however, that these urges are only temporary – they will go away the longer you compete in the NoFap Challenge. 

Day 3 – The third day also tends to be a good day for NoFappers. By this time, you should start to see some noticeable changes in your energy and health (i.e., clearer skin). You may also feel more focused, self-aware, and motivated than in the past. 

Day 4 – On the fourth day, combating your urges to watch porn may be challenging. However, almost anyone with good coping skills and strategies, and a decent motivation to stop using porn and/or masturbating can “quiet” these urges. Keep in mind that you may relapse, but that is to be expected and it is okay. You may have to fall down a few times to become inspired to work hard to become porn-free or get a grip on your masturbation activities.

Day 5 – The fifth day of the NoFap Challenge is very critical to your success. By this time, you should be seeing a significant improvement in your health, porn use, and masturbation activities. It will also dawn on you that this challenge is not going to be as easy as you expected. Rather, it will take a tremendous amount of effort, willpower, motivation, and dedication to completely recover from porn addiction, chronic masturbation, or porn-induced masturbation. Think of willpower like a joint – it can become stronger or wear down the more you work it. 

The goal is to strengthen it, but it will take commitment and work to do so. Depending on your lifestyle, it may be easier to resist the temptation to view porn in the morning, when willpower and motivation are usually the strongest. However, as the day progresses, your willpower and motivation may weaken. If this occurs, you will need to repeatedly fight against your masturbation and/or porn triggers. The urges will likely be the most intense in the evenings and nights because by then you will be tired from fighting them all day, which will leave you vulnerable to a relapse. 

Days 6 & 7 – For most NoFappers, the sixth and seventh days fall on the weekend. Most people start the NoFap Challenge on a Monday for some reason. This resembles “New Year Resolutions” where you make a bunch of promises about what you will do differently in the new year. The problem is most people never fulfill their resolutions – just like most NoFappers do not accomplish their goals during these times. 

Truth be told, the weekend is typically the hardest part of a NoFappers week because they do not have work or school to take up their time and prevent them from turning to porn. During the weekend, NoFappers struggle to stay on track because they have so much free time, and they are typically alone. If you relapse during this time, you will have to start over from the beginning, thereby delaying your progress. 

1st Week Benefits

During this week, you may experience the following improvements: 

  • Fatigue or a feeling more tired than usual due to insomnia or sleep deprivation 
  • Intense urges to procrastinate or be “lazy”
  • More goal-focused
  • An increased interest or attraction to others

Stage 2 (Weeks 2 & 3)

The second stage of the NoFap Challenge usually requires the most work, primarily because this is when you begin to fight urges to go back to old “bad habits,” such as watching porn and/or masturbating. During this week, it may be hard to stay motivated. But at the same time, this stage tends to be exciting, empowering, and uplifting. More specifically, this is when your energy level increases and your productivity increases. 

Your self-esteem also rebounds, so you feel more confident about your ability to succeed at the challenge and conquer your chronic masturbation habit and/or porn addiction. During this stage, you also get a glimpse of some of the positive changes you may experience due to the extra testosterone from refraining from masturbating. 

Truth be told, it is important to cherish this “honeymoon stage,” because it will not last forever. In other words, the urges will come back in full force in Stage 3, so it is important to make the most of the benefits gained in this stage. 

The worst thing you could do, however, is trick yourself into thinking that things will also be this easy and happy. Thus, the best thing you can do is prepare yourself for trials, challenges, and possible relapses that may occur in Stage 3. Do not berate yourself if you struggle in this stage. With time, effort, and patience, you will clear any hurdles that come your way in Stage 2.  

Note: During Stage 2, you are also more likely to experience a NoFap flatline. During this time, you may feel like you are at your lowest point. You may feel mentally and physically tired during this time, and you probably will not experience your normal sexual or porn urges, or urges to masturbate with or without porn. 

You may even mistake flatline symptoms as a cold or the flu. If you experience a NoFap flatline, do not not worry because this is part of the “rebooting” or “resetting” process. You may experience more than one flatline, but that is okay. Do not quit the NoFap Challenge, because after a few days your brain will “reset” or “rewire,” and you will be back on track. Keep in mind, however, that a flatline can last for weeks, in some cases. 

During a NoFap flatline, you may experience a decline in anxiety, self-confidence, despair, and quality sleep, due to the “removal” of porn and masturbation toxicity from your mind. This is why you may experience little-to-no signs or symptoms of porn addiction or chronic masturbation. 

Days 8-14 – During these days, you may experience strong urges and impulses to view porn, masturbate, or masturbate to porn. During this time, it is important to remember that these urges and impulses are only temporary and will eventually go away. During the second week, you may also start to see improvement in your relationships and friendships. 

Days 15-21 – By the third week, you should be feeling pretty good. You are now ¼ of the way through the NoFap Challenge, so you should be reaping some pretty amazing mental and physical benefits from it. 

2nd & 3rd Week Benefits

During these weeks, you may experience the following improvements: 

  • Increased motivation or less procrastination
  • High productivity and an intense focus on self-awareness and self-improvement 
  • Less anxiety, shame, or guilt

Note: Although you are likely to experience many benefits during Stage 2, you may also experience setbacks, strong urges to view porn and/or masturbate, and anxiety from not being able to watch porn and/or masturbate. 

Stage 3 (Weeks 4,5 & 6)

The third stage of the NoFap Challenge is usually the most taxing. During this stage, you will begin to realize that the things you did in the past, such as watching porn, hurt you instead of helping you. In other words, it dawns on you that watching porn and/or masturbating excessively was not the smartest thing you have done. Thus, Stage 3 is a time for self-reflecting and re-focusing on making the necessary changes to ensure you have a happy and productive life – without porn.

Days 22-28 – During these days, urges to view porn and/or masturbate may intensify. Remember, these urges will go away the more you continue in the NoFap Challenge. Your relationships and friendships will also continue to improve. You will also start to feel more in control of your thoughts and behaviors.  

Days 29-35 – You should be feeling really good – so good that you may even experience a “natural high.” You are almost halfway through the NoFap Challenge by this time. Your confidence should be increasing, making you feel on top of the world. You feel more energetic, however, the urges also become stronger during this time. Understand that Nofap will change your mindset, which will ultimately help you become a better person. By this time you will also start to respect others more, which will cause you to become more attractive to potential prospects. 

Days 36-42 – During these days, your relationships and friendships may start to change – for the worst. You may also feel as if you are stuck in a never-ending rollercoaster ride or an endless cycle of “doom and gloom.” You may also feel unusually tired, but not know why. This stage can also trigger anxiety and depression in some NoFappers. 

Keep in mind, however, that symptoms will vary from person to person. However, many porn addicts and chronic masturbators experience despair, mood swings, inattention or a lack of focus and concentration, a loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, lethargy, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, insomnia, confusion, doubt, and/or a sudden and noticeable change in their appetite and weight.  

4th, 5th, & 6th Week Benefits

During these weeks, you may experience the following improvements: 

  • An increase in self-awareness and self-improvement
  • Greater focus and concentration
  • Stronger willpower and motivation

Stage 4 (Weeks 7,8 & 9)

The fourth stage of the NoFap Challenge is often when things get tricky again. This is when you have to prepare for battle. You vs. porn and masturbation. Round 1. To successfully get past this stage, you will need to find ways to keep yourself motivated. It will not be easy but you now have the tools to conquer this stage. You can win the battle by staying the course.

Days 43-63 – By days 43-63, you are probably starting to feel really bad. You are now at the halfway point of your NoFap journey. While this is a good thing, you are also at risk of experiencing setbacks during this time. These setbacks will likely involve your mind and body. There is no doubt that this stage is difficult. 

This is when your energy, motivation, and productivity are likely to decline. Moreover, you may see a significant dip in your self-esteem and self-confidence during these days. You may also start to question if the NoFap Challenge is beneficial for you. Remember, these setbacks are only temporary hurdles – hurdles you are now prepared for. 

7th, 8th, and 9th Week Benefits

During these weeks, you may experience the following improvements: 

  • An improved love life
  • Sexual arousal from your real-life partner, rather than porn 
  • Happiness and joy in living – i.e., breathing, exercising, interacting with others, sleeping, etc. 
  • More focus and self-awareness
  • A stronger sense of self and self-confidence

Note: Keep in mind that you may also experience a NoFap flatline. In other words, the motivation you felt early on may not be as strong as before. This is a good time to start practicing mindfulness meditation and other self-help tools. 

Stage 5 (Weeks 10-24)

The fifth stage of the NoFap Challenge usually involves significant progress. During this stage, you start to “see” the benefits of your hard work. Also, your old habits, like watching porn or masturbating to porn no longer play an important role in your life. 

Days 70-119 – In the 5th stage, your libido or sex drive starts to increase, and morning erections become more frequent. You also start to feel extremely energetic and motivated. Moreover, you become more productive at home, school, and/or work. You now feel confident enough to re-enter the social scene and/or dating pool. You will attract more positive people during this time. Your sex life has also improved, primarily because you are more focused on your real-life partner and you have more energy for amazing, long-lasting sex romps with them. 

Days 126-168 – During these days, most NoFappers experience a noticeable boost in testosterone. Moreover, most males feel better overall. They like the direction their lives are taking. You may be dating or the spark in your romantic relationship may be reignited. 

10th-24th Week Benefits

During these weeks, you may experience the following improvements: 

  • Fewer worries 
  • Lots of energy and positivity 
  • More emotions, like happiness, joy, excitement, and contentment 
  • High levels of productivity
  • Happier and healthier relationships and friendships
  • Higher self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Attractiveness 
  • A clear vision of how you want your future to be
  • Less “brain fog”
  • A deeper voice

Note: Although this is a great time for you and you have amassed many benefits from the NoFap Challenge, you are still at risk of experiencing a masturbation and/or porn addiction relapse. Remember, relapses are common and expected. During this time, you may also experience high-stress levels for a few months. You may also become moodier and/or angrier than before. If you experience these symptoms or signs, be proactive. In other words, read books about porn addiction and/or excessive or chronic masturbation, download porn addiction apps, etc., so you can stay informed, motivated, and on track.

Stages 6 & 7 (6 months+)

After six or seven months on the NoFap Challenge, you should have reaped the maximum benefits of abstaining from porn and masturbation. You should also have plenty of energy, a good mood and outlook, and healthy social, personal, romantic, and sexual lives. Fapping or masturbating can be tiring, but now that you no longer are doing that, you have more energy to do other things. During this time, you are confident, self-aware, productive, and focused. 

The shame and guilt you once had because of your porn use and/or masturbation are gone with porn being a distant memory. You are no longer insecure, anxious, or depressed due to your porn use and masturbation. Gone are the days when fapping or masturbating to porn was the focal point of your day. You are not a whole and healthy individual, who can partake in all that life has to offer.

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