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I Can't Stop Jerking Off! How Can I Stop Masturbating?

Question:
     <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">Hey Doctor Dombeck.  I can't stop jerking off.  I am trying to stop but my cravings keep getting to me!</p> 
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Answer:

I think the first thing to consider is whether or not your problem is really a problem. Masturbation is a pretty normal thing, and so far as I am aware it is not generally associated with adverse physical health effects. People can get into behavioral trouble with their masturbation, such as when constant jerking off interferes with a man’s ability to or interest in functioning sexually in a relationship with an actual woman. I’ve also known of some men who were very sexually compulsive and ended up spending all their money on telephone sex to the point where they were functionally addicted to sex and it was interfering with their social and occupational functioning. I’m not saying that constant masturbation cannot be an issue. However, I’ve encountered people in the course of my work who have masturbated with normal frequency, and the behavior was not particularly destructive of their relationships, but they felt terribly guilty about it anyway. For this sort of person, it’s not the masturbation that is an issue. Rather, it is their sexual shame and guilt, and the rigid, idealistic, judgmental and perfectionist cognitive style that they apply to all of their thinking. So, what I’m getting at is that it’s important that you think carefully about whether your problem is actually about masturbation, or instead about feeling ashamed.

If your masturbation is actually getting in the way of your relationships, work, or your ability to function in society, then yes, maybe you are masturbating too frequently. Masturbation is one of those habits that is difficult to stop because doing it is intrinsically rewarding. We aren’t born knowing how to masturbate, but the moment we start doing it, we know that it feels good, and we become motivated to do it more. Eating food provides a similar kick, and people similarly can get into patterns where they eat too much and it’s hard to stop. Additionally, of course, there are lots of drugs that people can take which make them feel very good, and this motivates them to continue using the drugs.

It has been argued that the proper goal of a treatment for addictions is abstinence from the problem substance of abuse. So, according to Alcoholics Anonymous, the goal for an alcoholic should be complete sobriety from all alcoholic beverages. Abstinence may or may not be a realistic goal for compulsive use of alcohol; it is certainly not a realistic goal for compulsive sexual behavior or eating behavior. If we stop eating, we will die. If we stop having sex, we tend to get agitated and horny after a little while and start sexualizing people and things inappropriately. As the singer Tom Waits observed long ago, "I’m so horny, the crack of dawn looks pretty good to me". It is easier for some people to go without sex than others, but the average adult person seems to needs it in some form or they don’t feel right after a while.

Since going cold turkey is not going to be feasible or desirable for that matter, what is left is to explore techniques that can help you to modify your jerking off habit. We explore various methods for changing your behavior in Chapter 5 of our self-help book, Psychological Self-Tools. Of particular interest to you may be the sections on Relapse Prevention.

Behavioral Chains, Substitution, Interruption and Diversion

Since there are multiple forms of sex that can work to satisfy people’s sexual appetites, you have the option of looking for ways to substitute the form of sex you are wanting to cut down on with one that you’d feel better about. For instance, jerk off less, and make love with a desirable and desiring partner more. This will be a lot easier to do if you have a willing partner already. If you don’t, this will take some work, perseverance and luck as you’ll need to start dating again. Historically, there have been other solution to this need, such as institutionalized prostitution, but for the most part, this is not a safe or lawful option in our society.

Willing partner or not, you will face another problem which is that your cravings for masturbation sex are constantly being triggered by things that you are encountering in the environment around you. For instance, its very likely that you jerk off while using porn, which is easy to get access to today across the Internet, from the video store, and, if you’re old-school, in magazine format. Let’s say that you have a computer that you frequently use to view this material which is exciting to you. This computer is probably not be reserved exclusively for use as a masturbation aide. Instead, you use it for other purposes such as surfing the web, reading email, etc. The thing is, every time you see the computer, some part of your brain notes that the computer is part of the pattern of compulsive masturbation and ratchets up your desire. The computer may be acting as a ‘trigger’ which gets the cravings started. It is useful to think about behaviors like compulsive masturbation as actually being comprised of a chain of events, or like falling dominoes, one triggering another in a cascade. If you want to get a handle on slowing down your masturbation, you will need to identify the entry points to this chain and take special steps to handle them so that you don’t just fall down the cascade and end up jerking off every time.

Keeping all of the above in mind, the following might be a rough plan for how to help interrupt and reshape your compulsive masturbation.

  • Make a list of the things that trigger your desire, such as your computer or any porn you have lying around the house.

  • Get rid of whatever stuff that triggers you that you can. You probably can’t justify throwing the computer away, but you can get rid of DVDs and stored files and magazines, etc. If you can get rid of the entry point to the masturbation behavior chain, you can stop falling down that chain some of the time.

  • With regard to the computer, you can install "nanny" software made to block access to pornographic websites if you want to. The computer will still function as an entry point to the masturbation behavior chain for a while, but if you are blocked (and can resist the temptation to uninstall the software), this will interrupt the chain’s progress towards masturbation, giving you some time to divert yourself.

  • Develop a plan of acceptable alternative or substitute behaviors you can engage in when you notice that you are starting to crave. Let your partner know you have needs if that is an option. Or go out for a jog or take the proverbial "cold shower". These things essentially help you to change your environment so as to interrupt and disorient the chain from progressing.

  • Finally, allow yourself the freedom to masturbate sometimes, perhaps at regular intervals. See if you can learn to do this without using porn. Masturbation is really not a bad thing if you can learn do it in moderation, and in a matter that doesn’t interfere with the rest of your life.

This stuff is easy to talk about doing in theory, but in practice, it’s difficult to make happen, if only because as you go through different stages of cravings, your motivation to change your ways goes away and you stop doing the work necessary to interrupt until it is too late and you feel guilty about what you’ve done again. I recommend that you seek out a behavioral psychotherapist or a sexual therapist with behavioral expertise to help you work on successfully changing this sexual habit. Your therapist will help you stay focused and motivated better than you are likely to be able to achieve on

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Comments
  • Rajesh Yedida

    Dear Doctor,

    That's a great explanation. But what should one do, when he can't get a partner? or any other alternative?

    Regards

    Rajesh Yedia

  • JR

    Not unless you make it so. It is about as harmful as eating sweets. Less so, in fact - it does not rot your teeth.

    Mind you, if you are convinced that it is a problem - perhaps we could start a 12 Step Fellowship ? As in ...

    Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over self-naugtification —that our lives had become unmanageable.

    Step 2 - ...

    Oh well, you know the rest ...

    Best regards,

    JR

  • Bewildered

    I'm new to this community (and internet),so please forgive if this is posted inappropriately. I'm a male, mid-40s, and have been masturbating since 13. Prety much every day, except when shame takes hold... I've had 4 significant relationships (one marriage of 15 years, one live-in of about 2). Porn has become a growing part of my sex life, as has a fetish for panties (stolen from laundry rooms, mostly). I masturbate to free downloaded images, using womens underwear for tactile and visual stimulation.

    I'm also an alcoholic, with about 11 months of sobriety. I've noticed as I begin each new relationship, I am unable to get an erection. The problem has become worse as time goes by. My most recent relationshhip of 2 months started and recently ended whille sober. She was entirely understanding of both the panty fetish, and the erection problem. I never told her that I'm still using panties while I masturbate, although she knew that I still beat off frequently (once a day in general).

    I know I get erections while sleeping, occaisionally waking up with one. I seem to be more excited by the idea and the process of removing her clothes than being naked with her. In the past, the problem passed after several attempts (despite the fact that I was still drinking). In this past relationship, although I could please her orally and manually (as no one was able to before, she said), I could never get hard enough to have intercourse.

    Another issue which I find Very disturbing is that I've developed a preoccupation for a 13-year-old girl. It's to the point that I've stolen a pair of her panties, photo-shopped her face onto porn, and written lengthy fantasies about sexual encounters with her.

    I'm worried about going to a real-life counselor, because of the pedophilia issue.

    I've considered that total abstinence might be part of the answer. My sexual response seems to have become very conditioned to the panties and porn. I'm scared that I'm never going to be able to have normal sexual relations with another woman. Thus far, my conscience has prevented me from acting on the pedophilic impulses.

    If I should post this somewhere else (I will post in support community as well), please advise.

  • Nuel

    Pls How can some one stop mastubation and treat quick ejaculation.

    thanks

  • Anonymous-1

    My boyfriend and i have been together for 3 years now. We have always had the greatest sex life, until about 4 or 5 months ago. Now it seems like he would rather watch porn whether it be on the tv or computer and jerk off. We still have sex but not as often as we use to and when we do he is not all hard so i dont get the full pleasure i use to. I have talked to him about the issue about him watching so much porn and our sex life and he says he doesnt see the problem. Now he watches porn and tries to hide it from me but i can tell. Is there any advise you can give me because i feel it is wrecking our relationship?

  • Cinderella

    Your story replicates mine. The excessive porn & masturbation has also lead my partner to prefer oral sex over intercourse. More and more frequently, he is unable to maintain an erection during intercourse. This excessive sex with himself has interfered with a close connection between us which I, too, miss very much. Now, I'm wondering if his current taste in porn (barely legal & mostly oral) becomes unstimulating if he won't turn to child pornography or something similar. This whole topic makes me feel very sad.

  • Anonymous-2

    Masturbation is an addiction that needs to be stop. It is true that a person who does masturbate fells guilty about it after self pleasuring themselves. Masturbation is bad because throughout the course of a persons life who do often for years, will seek more ways to obtain self pleasure. That way will always be bad. So In any case, masturbation is bad period. There is no good thing about it. It will only lead the individual astray and end up doing something wrong even being self-aware and knowing that is wrong for their own pleasure. I personally think that if someone is addicted to masturbation should join the marines or special forces, any type of hardcore military discipline if eligible. There is also civilian boot camp that can help aid in quitting this horrible addiction. It can be rare for someone to try and quit on their own but with help, its a long shot.

  • Anonymous-3

    its just jacking off who cares if its fun its fun o well :p

  • pat

    I'm very ashamed of myself during i'm giving in into masturbation. i'm a 17 year old boy and i've discover this habit when i was 14 years old. I'm getting erections with my same sex and it's quite an embarrassing one. I want to get free from this struggle. please help me. I don't want to be a slave of this in my whole life. I think it is a psychological disorder and i want to give a treatment.

  • Anonymous-4

    Would watching porn without masturbating, just getting an erection and pre-cum help or would do worse?

    Editor's Note: It would do worse, as it would reinforce the behavior chain that leads to the compulsive activity.

  • Manuel

    When I lost my girl I am invincible to feeling guilty, and I want to recover that!

  • Anonymous-5

    That was brilliant!

    The way you crafted that answer so wholesomely and humorously was excellent! I just enjoyed reading it. Your wry sense of humour is hilarious. Also, I have the same problem, so I got great advice in such a great way. Thanks.

    Cheers.

  • Anonymous-6

    yes i am a women married for two years i does not like mastribution ,i want satis faction from my husbend but he never satisfies me when i express my lve he never show it back oevral he is verygood person but he do mastribute now iam really worried if it goes in the same way i may end up with other parter which i doesnot want . iam strong but i become very tensed and i cant express this to my husbend?

    plz give me the solution i dont want to loose him.

  • Anonymous-7

    My boyfriend and I used to have a wonderful sex life. We used to have sex every day and it was incredible. I have a very high sex drive and I love my boyfriend with all my heart and I want to be able to have sex with him more often but lately I have to beg for it. I am lucky I get it once a week. Sometimes i'll go weeks without it and it makes me very sad. He would rather go home and masturbate and watch porn or have me give him oral. Sometimes that does not bother me but I have needs too and he is not satisfying me. It makes me feel like I am not good enough. What can I do? I dont want this to ruin our relationship! Please HELP!

  • shushu

    doctor this article has been very helpful to me. altough there r few things i stil didnt get answers for like what is normal masterbation and how many times to do it so it will stay normal, and is porn bad me?

  • Andy

    I would like to quit the habbit all together. I can understand the reasons why some of you don't. But I just don't want to do it because I do not want to be a slave to any addiction. When your mind says no but your body says yes you are facing a war with yourself, and this leaves you feeling helpless. How can you face other problems in life if you can't even face the problems within yourself. I want to be a kid again, you know just outside playing baseball running through the sprinklers with your friends and just getting into trouble for stoopid stuff -the good old days. I miss those times and I hate always having sex on my mind. Sex is a good thing but when it takes over your life it leaves you feeling helpless and its just shameful. I don't want to be married and not be married to my wife while I am just thinking about sex and getting that gratification however I can get it, I want to be in love and feel pure and clean. I am not dogging any of your comments you feel how you feel and I can respect that. I hope I can brake this addiction, it's also just a bit of self respect and a self accomplishment. I wish all of you success with your problems.

  • Anonymous-8

    I was a regular...almost every day if not more than once a day. I up and stopped cold turkey. it was sooo hard at first-its still an ongoin struggle 3 months later. i used to view porn a good bit but since ive quit the masturbation, the desire for porn has dropped to the point that its generally never even a thought. but now as i look to engage in a relationship with an amazing young woman, as we grow more comfortable with each other n more physical, the tempation grows too. Luckily for me, shes super supportive and understanding...i realize we're a bit prudish in waiting to have sex but i know it will be that much more amazing in the end if we wait. Good luck to all looking to kick masturbatings ass. i dont think it will ever stop being a struggle for me. But isnt that how addictions work? it heps to know that if i play my cards right, i may just have the most amazing woman i know as my wife-shes my prize at the end of the line!

  • Anonymous-9

    It is definitely worth a shot.

    Will try.

    I am a "shamed" masturbator (sp?).

  • Anonymous-10

    Thanks for the great advice. I feel empowered. I'll have weak moments and revert from time to time but as long as I can get my habit to be less and less frequent then I will feel in control and less guilty and eventullay maybe even really be in total control. I can do it. I feel much better. I just used my computer for something productive instead of other "things".

  • Anonymous-11

    Zoloft has been very helpful for me to cease this type of activity - a real miracle drug - and it (or another SSRI) likely can help others too. It is not just for depression, but is also for treating OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder and, for this problem, will reduce a person's sex drive. If you are really serious about quitting, I am very confident that it will help. Of course, you should consult your doctor about it first. (BTW, masturbation is not "natural", as some would have you believe...)

  • Anonymous-12

    Dr. Mark Dombeck, i don't no how to thank you just say thanks a lot. i am 21 years old and had this problem since i start developing sperm. it coused me to get lowwer grade in school that was the main problem and i feel emptiness after i've masturbated, and the stronge attitude i had goes away with it. thanks again for your knowledgeble discription i won't do it ever again without direct sexual contact. And i think being faithful to your self will absolutelly help.

  • Anonymous-13

    To pedophilia - bewildered...

    Please, seek counselling now. This is an understandable situation - particularly with the way some of these young girls are dressing these days. They intentionally make themselves alluring - and their parent(s) don't often take measures to stop it.

    Just remember: *thinking* about a 13-year old girl and actually having contact with her are two different things. The authorities can't do anything to us (at least, not yet) for what we think.

    The fact that you are having this conflict and questioning your impulses is a very good sign. You can successfully overcome these demons, but you MUST take that step to help yourself now, and find a counsellor.

    Don't put it off... do it now. Please.

  • Anonymous-14

    Im doing this 4 10 y every day and cant stop noting work

  • Alvaro

    well.. thanks for this great article, i did not even know about some things, it did really help me, so from now on , i will be more carefully with myself. thank you so much !!!

  • Jerkoff

    Are you people kidding me ? Worried about excessive masturbation ? If it interferes with life and functioning as a member of society then it would be a problem.

    to the young lady who complains her boyfriend would rather jerk off. Spice up your sex life a bit. Mostly that is a sign of boredom.

    If your single masturbation once a day sounds about normal. Men should be carefule as ejaculation more then 4-6 times per week can have some health affects like a not swollen prostate.

    People. Puritanical values are unnatural and cuase a great deal of perversion.

  • DR.DARIN T.PAUL

    as a doctor my advice to u is"do not masturbate cuz it is not in good behaviors"

    if u are doing it "STOP" IT .

  • anynom

    I am finding out how us men who want to quit masturbating, can actually do it. Hey we want better for ourselves,we feel that we shouldnt be doing it, evidently something is telling us we should be doing something better. Having a relationship with a beautiful girl, instead of masturbating to one. To the person who does not have this problem, of course it would be funny or humorous, but I have found out why we do what we do. It happens due to our fears and insecurities. It happens because of our ignorance of how to gain women, and have safe protected sexual relations with them. Please email me at jmmfbm5o@yahoo.com, never mind the hecklars because they play a role in our lives as enemies who cause us to feel bad about who we are and what we do and cause us to continue to keep masturbating. We actually can quit. Masturbating and watching porn is strangely a habit. Please email me I am on this mission to quit also. Serious replies only. The change can become real.

  • Anonymous-15

    thanks doc i hope that helps me

  • Anonymous-16

    Man, these tips really work!

  • Anonymous-17

    all this really seems matching to my character... i would try to follow your guidance,,, thanks alot

  • sau

    Thank u sir...

    also visit http://istopped.wordpress.com

  • Johnathan Emory

    Hey, whoever reads this letter,

    I believe I can overcome any addiction. When my chest starts feeling heavy like the incredible hulk's , Im going to go for a jog and take a cool shower. I've been trying to stop masturbating for a long time because it's an abominized life style. see ya when I see ya!

  • bob

    thank u

  • L'L

    I have had similar problems with jerking off, ive tried to stop and this is the only article that helped. Now I just keep this article on a word document and when i feel a urge, I recap and skim through the article and this stoped my problem by 99%. I only have sexual related things now with my wife and i actually help her insted of just recieveing oral thank you

    -L'L

  • John Pospisil

    I jerk off when I write my blog TECH.BLORGE by John Pospisil. Jerking off clears my mind so I can write better. TECH.BLORGE would not exist without my jerking off because my creative mind will not function until I do. Jerking off is constantly on my mind when I start to write TECH.BLORGE. TECH.BLORGE is actually a direct result of masturbating and the fine art of jerking off.

  • anon

    I was Following my train of thoughts that led directly to the same ending wich was jerking off , a while ago i made a promise to quit jerking off ,I feel ashame of doing it afterwards , and I feel less of a man because I Use my Imagination to plesure myself wich i think i shoulnt have to theres tons of girls out there, So , There I was HAving that debate , reasons why i should and why i shoulnt ,not jerking off for 3 weeks the why i should were pretty clear my cock is hard my computer is on jerk off the dying to jerk off feeling was overwhelming my rationality , i was planing the clening myself strategy , so i decided to look for help ,since is common now a days to find all the answers on the web , so i stumble upon this website , And it distracted me enough to have the urges move back a bit , and think of other stuff , I have to say Im very week willing ,I almost fail my own promise the reason i want to stop is because i feel ashame of tuching myself like a loser , i been in relationships before im 22 I love having sex , and i got into the habit of jerking off since i was 14 it never interfeers with my life but i just dont think i should have to use my imagination to feel a plesure i can obtain , makes sence? , i could pursue tha women ,that girlfriend,that one night stand , insted of putting so much thought on this issue of jerking off i should be exploring posibilitys of getting this females ,I think that will help me well i'll give it a try good luck guys and girls , i know the feeling also is great, and i know the after feeling also , if i had a girl and i did it i dont think i be so sad for having to jerk off , i guess masturbation is not sad but how i think is what gets me down thank you all for reading this .

  • daniel

    is it bad if i ben jerkin off age 11 to 13?

  • BOSE

    THOSE INSTRUCTIONS ARE GOOD

    In that text I see that as a whole it says that

    KEEP YOURSELF BUSY

    Simply the answer is the above.

    Keep yourself busy with the routine activities you do {other than the masturbating!!!}.

    OR

    At free times Engage yourself in activies

    like watching movies, playing, travelling (driving), solving puzzles, creative activities, etc...................................

  • Anonymous-18

    I've always jerked off A LOT, at least once a day, and that never got in the way of my relationships. Nevertheless, about 4 years ago I started going on cam with random partners to jerk off and got completely hooked on that. My partner at the time didn't mind, but we broke up (for other reasons) and I got a new partner who totally disapproved of that behaviour.

    I thought it would be easy to go back to "normal porn" (which was ok for my partner), but it most certainly wasn't. I started doing it hidden, but as you might imagine, traces left in my computer (as careful as I might have been) or unpredictable early arrivals made my partner get me red-handed several times.

    The first time, it was a simple argument, but then it got worse, and at around the 6th time (after 3 years of this), we had a major breakdown. Not to mention how miserable I felt during those years.

    I finally admited I had a serious problem and looked for help with trusted friends, my yoga teacher and, of course, my partner. We purchased a software which would record EVERY thing I did in the computer, and only he had access to it. We watched out for get-arounds, such as the laptop and stuff. Breathing and meditation exercises helped getting my mind off it when it made it impossible to concentrate in my job (I work at home).

    That was 2 years ago now, and I'm proud to say we haven't had "rebounds" since then. There were moments my cravings got to insane levels, but not havng a way of performing the thing did the trick. Now I hardly feel like doing it again. It's even funny just telling the whole story. Sounds ridiculous that I lacked self-control that much. But now I know I was addicted and, in that sense, like with alcohol, not having the first sip is my rule of thumb. We currently do not have the software installed and I'm 100% clean.

    I still jerk off a lot though, most times with my partner now, and have a VERY active sex life (around 6 times a week), but there's not guilt or shame. I actually feel stronger than ever and that our relationship got much deeper through all the dificulties we overcame.

  • Anonymous-19

    I can't seem to stop fantasizing about women, sex and internet porn is my go to for it. I would love to have a real relationship, but I can't seem to wrap my head around the idea and get into one, it's a cycle I can't break. It depresses me knowing that I'm stuck.

  • Evan

    Hello Doctor, I recently reviewed side effects of masturbation and I've discovered that I've shown symptoms of anxiety, anger, and forgetfulness. I've gone a day without masturbating and I plan to go on much longer without doing so. There's so many issues involved in it and so many negative outcomes that I think a long break is needed. I was doing it literally every day and it has affected just too much, especially my personality. I'm calling it quits for now.

  • young guy with gf

    Thanks doc for your very reasonable advice.

    The proof of the cake is in the eating, so I hope I can put this in practice. The domino effect is a powerful metaphore, I think it will stick.

    Thanks a lot.

  • sky butt

    thanxxx doctor i thinh i can get rid of this problem now

  • single guy

    I'm having a similar problem with masturbating. I haven't had a girlfriend for about 5 years now (I'm 23 now) and I'm starting to masturbate at a more and more alarming rate. I can keep myself in control when at work and whatnot, but once I get home I can masturbate up to 8+ times (over the span of 4-5 hours) before I go to bed. I masturbate so much that I even have a hard time keeping hard while doing it, although this could be attributed to my thyroid gland problems, but I usually still manage to climax. I do this every day.

    The things I masturbate to vary. Sometimes it's 2D girls (anime girls), hentai manga, porn, pictures of pretty girls, you name it. Either way, I do it many times each day. But at the same time I can't stop, if I don't let it out it feels like I might actually go ballistic. It's like my sanity hangs on by a really thin thread and if I don't masturbate that thread will snap.

    What should I do?

  • secret

    i m from pakistan and about 36 years old

    i m suffering in masterbation since about 25 years and have ruined mysel very badly i want to stop it but it not possible for me i m very hopeless helpless too

    ples some one help me

  • Anonymous-20

    it was very helpful.

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