The Basics of Rebooting
Prolonged or intense exposure to pornography causes the brain to wire itself in ways that can create negative effects in a person’s life, such as sexual dysfunction, addiction, and other related problems.
For more information, see NoFap’s
Rebooting is the term coined by recovering porn users for the process of abstaining from pornography, masturbation, and sometimes orgasm altogether for a sufficient duration to recover from these negative effects. By abstaining from problematic sexual habits, we can “reboot” the brain to factory settings.
Although we at NoFap may have our recommendations on effective ways to reboot, no two people will have the same rebooting experience. In fact, people choose to reboot in many different ways, all of them valid. While we see the individual nature of rebooting as a strength, it can lead to confusion for new community members looking for a clear idea of how the rebooting process occurs. We created this page to help people get started.
Our Approach to Rebooting
NoFap began when Alexander Rhodes decided to gamify the rebooting experience by challenging himself and a small group to abstain from masturbation for one week, and sharing his experience on a Reddit-hosted forum he founded. Word spread about this initial challenge, and an even larger group tried a month-long rebooting challenge in July. Before he knew it, Alexander had formed a community of people interested in shedding habitual porn use and rediscovering healthy sexuality.
Challenges and community are the core of NoFap’s approach to rebooting. By gamifying their rebooting experiences and sharing their experiences of struggle and victories with other rebooters, NoFap’s users continue to find success and live better lives.
Before beginning a challenge, each user will have to choose the duration of their challenge and what parameters constitute a failure of the challenge.
The conditions for victory in a challenge are simple: if you abstain from your chosen problem behaviors for the entirety of your chosen duration, you’ve completed a rebooting challenge!
Once you choose a duration for your challenge, it’s important that you stick to it until the end. That said, don’t get too hung up on deciding on the perfect duration for you. It’s best that you just choose a duration and get going! After a period of abstinence from your chosen sexual behaviors, it’s fine to increase your duration if you feel like your brain needs more time to reboot.
Here are some suggestions for choosing a duration:
Fixed Number of Days:
NoFap’s gold standard of success is our 90-day reboot. Ninety days is a challenge duration that is difficult for most, yet achievable. It’s also sufficiently long that most users see marked improvement in their well-being once they’ve achieved victory. Some rebooters will start with this 90-day challenge only to reevaluate towards the end that extending their challenge would be of benefit.
However, users can choose any number of days that they feel appropriate. Some ambitious users will try to go an entire year, while other users are so entrenched in their behaviors that reaching two weeks proves a difficult challenge for them. The key is to choose a length of time that you could look back on and feel a sense of accomplishment after you’ve achieved victory.
Those skeptical of the reboot process may wish to try a challenge for just seven days. A short challenge is manageable for most but can act as a “sneak peek” of both the benefits and pitfalls one can experience during a longer challenge. At the very least, seven days should be enough for anyone to determine whether they have a problematic porn habit; if rebooters have difficulty abstaining from porn for seven days, it’s a pretty good sign that a full reboot would be beneficial.
One alternative to choosing an arbitrary length of time is to take part in a monthly challenge. Both our main forums and NoFap’s subreddit host threads where users can sign up to take part in a challenge to abstain for the entirety of a given month. This can be a good entry point for users who want to test the water with a shorter challenge while experiencing the camaraderie of participating in a community event.
Rather than using a set length of time to mark their reboot, some users choose to reboot until they feel the benefits of a healthier sexuality. This is can be a good choice for people who engage in a challenge specifically to see if it can help them with a problem they are experiencing. For instance, someone who might suspect their sexual dysfunction is porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED) could give rebooting a try to see if it alleviates their symptoms.
We recommend that symptom-based rebooters start with a 90-day goal and reassess their symptoms. Porn and masturbation habits don’t cause sexual dysfunction overnight, and they won’t heal overnight, either. The brain and body need time to recover from a years-long habit.
While a symptom-based challenge is a good technique for people looking for concrete results, NoFap does not promote rebooting as a cure for any medical or psychiatric issue. If you are experiencing physical or psychological symptoms that bother you, please consult your doctor.
Day Counters and Challenges
NoFap’s forums provide day-counting badges for tracking consecutive days of abstinence. These counters can be reset to day one when a member decides they have broken their abstinence streak.
The counter is meant to track your entire current streak, not your progress in your current challenge. Therefore, if you do back-to-back challenges, your day counter rolls over from one challenge into the next. For instance, if you choose to do a September challenge followed by an October challenge, you don’t need to reset your counter to day one on October 1st.
Challenge Duration vs. Reaching a Full Reboot
Our rebooting challenges are meant to help a person reboot, that is, obtain a healthy sexuality where they prefer sexual interactions with people rather than a computer screen. However, a rebooter won’t necessarily be fully rebooted at the end of their challenge. Being fully rebooted means that your brain has recovered from the effects of problem habits, namely masturbating excessively to pornography. (For more information on the brain science of rebooting, see our page about porn addiction.) The best way to identify if you’ve rebooted or not is to assess whether you still experience the urges and sexual symptoms you had before starting a reboot.
The length of time it takes for a full reboot is not typically the same as the duration of a challenge (unless you choose a symptom-based challenge duration). For instance, if your brain and body are due for a full reboot after, say, 73 days of abstinence, then doing a month-long challenge isn’t going to get you to fully reboot. This is why many rebooters will participate in back-to-back challenges until they feel they have rebooted completely.
Most rebooters find they have reached a full reboot or at least feel significantly better after 90 days. However, heavy porn users or those who went through puberty using modern Internet porn have found that they need more time. Some people, especially those with PIED, have required a year or longer to achieve significant results.
NoFap’s users challenge themselves to abstain from a variety of behaviors. While at its core rebooting involves abstaining from artificial sexual stimulation, namely the use of pornography, users apply that principle using their own set of parameters for a challenge.
Three behaviors that users generally attempt to abstain from are looking at porn, masturbating, and having an orgasm. In the forums and on the subreddit, these are often referred to collectively by the acronym “PMO”. Sometimes users will further abbreviate PMO to refer to other sets of behaviors. They might use PM to refer to looking at porn and masturbating, but not doing it to the point of orgasm. Or they might use MO to refer to masturbating to the point of orgasm, but not while looking at porn. PMO is also commonly used as a verb. For instance, when a user reports that they’ve broken their abstinence, they might tell the forums that they PMOed.
You can find a glossary of other common terms here.
“Modes” of our Challenges
There are three common sets of guidelines which users may adopt for their challenge parameters. These are often referred to as “modes.”
Porn-Free Mode: Abstaining from Porn
“Porn-Free Mode” or “P-Mode” only requires that a rebooter abstain from looking at pornography. P-Mode rebooters allow themselves to masturbate and have orgasms (with or without a partner). While this mode is not as commonly practiced as other modes, some members arrive at the conclusion that watching pornography, and only watching pornography, is their problematic sexual habit.
P-Mode has its own pitfalls. While abstaining from the superstimulation of pornography is undoubtedly a good idea that will help the brain recover, we speculate it may take longer for a true reboot to occur, since a P-Mode rebooter is still bathing their reward system in dopamine by masturbating and having orgasms.
As with PM-Mode, rebooters who still allow themselves to orgasm should be prepared to experience the “Chaser Effect” (see Pitfalls, below), which is a period after having an orgasm where some rebooters are more apt to be triggered.
One common symptom of excessive masturbators is a desensitization of the genitals. This can be caused by a desensitization of the nerves or to a thickening of the tissue of the genitals, and is attributed to the intense stimulation hands or toys can provide, especially over long masturbation sessions. This symptom, known as “Death Grip,” often clears up after a brief period of abstinence from rough or otherwise intense masturbation. We recommend that P-Mode rebooters train themselves to touch themselves more gently or use toys that provide a more gentle, “natural” sensation for the duration of their challenge.
PM-Mode: Abstaining from Porn and Masturbation
PM-Mode is a set of parameters where the rebooter abstains from both pornography and masturbation, but allows themselves to engage in sex and have orgasms. This is a popular choice among rebooters who have partners or are otherwise sexually active. This mode isn’t as commonly practiced among our members as “Hard Mode”, in part because many excessive porn users are not sexually active.
PM-Mode is sometimes referred to as “Normal Mode,” in order to distinguish it from “Hard Mode,” which is the nickname for PMO-Mode (below). However, PM-Mode is not particularly easy and offers its own pitfalls. The “Chaser Effect” (see Pitfalls, below) is a common problem for PM-Mode rebooters. Furthermore, we speculate that the occasional bath of dopamine PM-Mode that rebooters experience when having sex may make for a slower reboot.
Hard Mode: Abstaining from Porn, Masturbation, and Orgasm Altogether
We lovingly nicknamed this mode “Hard Mode,” as many of our members are video gamers. Abstaining from PMO altogether includes barring orgasms with another person. Many rebooters do a Hard Mode reboot by default since they do not have partners or are not sexually active. Rebooters with partners can still do Hard Mode, but will want to get their partner’s on board with the idea of abstaining from sex or learning non-orgasmic sexual techniques. One such technique, karezza, has been successfully practiced by some members of the community.
While Hard Mode may seem like a more difficult reboot than P- or PM-Mode, Hard Mode rebooters won’t have to deal with the Chaser Effect, and they may experience the benefits of rebooting more quickly than if they’d done an another type of reboot.
Still, Hard Mode rebooters should be prepared for several potential difficulties. See the Pitfalls section, below.
Abstaining from Other Behaviors
Rebooters need not strictly limit themselves to NoFap’s official formats when choosing their challenge parameters.
We encourage rebooters to tailor their challenge to their own needs and aspirations. While most members of the NoFap community design their reboots around quitting porn and abstaining from masturbation for a period of time, that doesn’t mean that rebooters are limited to our standard program! A rebooting challenge is a good time to look at some other problem sexual habits. Do you spend too much time cruising social media for sexy pictures? Are you compelled to visit massage parlors or hire prostitutes? Do you engage in sexual fantasy to the point that it intrudes on your life?
We encourage people to use our choose-your-own-challenge model to pursue other habit-breaking goals and improve their lives. Whether you do it after you reboot from porn or during your porn reboot, our platform is available for anybody who wants to improve their lives. Do you drink too much coffee? Do you live a sedentary lifestyle or have poor eating habits?
We find that making too many changes all at once is difficult to sustain, and it is therefore important to be mindful of overloading your list of reboot habits. However, rebooting is a golden opportunity to make your life better, and NoFap is an excellent environment for finding support as you reach your goals.
Habits and Hobbies
In addition to abstaining from problematic sexual behaviors, we encourage rebooters to develop habits and hobbies that promote self-growth. For many rebooters, negative thoughts and feelings can trigger urges to use porn, ultimately leading to a reset or relapse. By building good habits and slowly progressing towards positive long-term goals, a rebooter can bolster their self-confidence, reduce negative thinking, and constructively use the surplus time and energy they will have after quitting porn.
It’s up to the rebooter to choose their own habits and hobbies. No one can tell you what activity will give you the positive boost you need!
For an extra challenge, try adding habits or hobbies to your challenge parameters. Commit to working on your habits or hobbies every day of your challenge.
It is important to note that a rebooter shouldn’t try to add too many habits or hobbies all at once. It is better to start small and excel than to bite off more than you can chew. Choose small goals for one or two habits or hobbies. After handling them successfully for a sustained period, slowly ramp up to bigger or more challenging goals. Refrain from taking on more habits until your first set have become second nature.
Common habits include new exercise or dietary programs, meditation, or adult daily living skills such as housework or flossing. Some rebooters like to challenge themselves to take a cold shower every morning for the duration of their reboot, as a simple way of building self-discipline.
A good habit to choose is something a rebooter can work on each day. It should be challenging enough to make a rebooter feel a sense of accomplishment, but not so intimidating that they’re just setting themselves up for more failure, which could result in negative thinking.
For instance, a sedentary rebooter will do well to exercise for 20 minutes each day rather than taking on a high-intensity exercise program. Someone looking to eat healthier might do better making sure they drink eight glasses of water each day rather than suddenly going vegan. Creative rebooters might want to finally get that novel written, but a good place to start could be a 750 words-per-day writing discipline.
Working on a hobby is a good way to pass the time. Some heavy porn users may have spent hours each day looking at porn and are surprised to find themselves with time on their hands once they start their reboot. This extra time may lead to boredom, which is another common trigger for porn use.
Hobbies could include finishing a project or pursuing an interest you’ve always been curious about. Hobbies that promote physical activity are a fantastic option. Taking up hiking, fun runs, or a new sport are excellent choices. Hobbies that take skill to accomplish and engage creative passions can be particularly fulfilling, and ones that engage manual dexterity can help keep “idle hands” busy. Learning to play a new instrument or handicrafts such as knitting are good options.
A good hobby provides relaxation rather than escapism. Relaxing hobbies are engaged in deliberately and leave you feeling refreshed and recharged. By contrast, escapist activities are often compulsive, performed as a way of escaping from uncomfortable duties or feelings, and will leave you feeling depleted. Only you will be able to determine whether a hobby is relaxation or escapism. For instance, video games and reading can be relaxing hobbies for one rebooter while providing destructive escapism for another rebooter.
If a rebooter engages in one of their restricted behaviors before the end date of the challenge, this needn’t be the end of their journey. Instead, they should just “reset” and try again! Resetting means restarting their challenge beginning with day one and starting again.
Please don’t be discouraged if you have to reset. Most rebooters reset at some point. It’s important to realize that even though your day counter goes all the way back to day one, your progress isn’t completely erased. If you have several weeks or months of abstinence prior to your reset, you brain still gets the benefits of all that hard work… unless you give up and fall back into old habits entirely (see Reset vs. Relapse, below).
In the NoFap community, both at NoFap.com and NoFap’s subreddit, you will find tools to count the total consecutive number of days you’ve succeeded at rebooting challenges. These tools are called “counters” or “badges” (both names are used interchangeably). When you engage in a restricted behavior during a challenge, you need to reset your counter to day one.
When to Reset
Sometimes it’s tricky for a rebooter to determine when it’s time to reset. For instance, if a rebooter swears off porn but finds themselves browsing sexy YouTube videos, does that constitute a reset? That’s really up for that individual rebooter to determine.
If on the one hand the rebooter’s main goal is to refrain from masturbation, and watching sexy YouTube videos is tempting, then they might consider that behavior a red flag but not really a reset. If on the other hand a rebooter is trying to break a porn addiction and browsing sexy videos on YouTube puts them in the same trancelike state that they enter while watching porn, perhaps those videos should constitute porn for that rebooter, and watching them therefore constitutes a reset.
If you find yourself unsure whether to reset or not, this is a great opportunity to reach out to the collective wisdom of NoFap’s community. Get on those forums and post! Other rebooters will be happy to help.
If all else fails, a rule of thumb here is that if you remain unsure whether to reset or not, you should probably just go ahead and reset.
The Virtues of Resetting
Resetting a challenge is not the same as being a failure. In fact, there are several important virtues that are reinforced when you reset.
One virtue is honesty. Each time you admit to yourself and the other members of the community that you need to reset, you show a commendable level of honesty. Being dishonest, by failing to reset your counter or otherwise misrepresenting your progress, will do nothing but hurt yourself.
Another virtue is wisdom. Resetting is an opportunity for a rebooter to find their “weak spots” by examining what behaviors immediately led to the reset. Once these weak spots are understood, the rebooter can fix the leak, so to speak, to prevent the same thing from happening again in the future. For example, after resetting you look at what led up to your slip and realize you were browsing the Internet on your phone in bed before heading to sleep when you stumbled on some sexy pictures, which triggered your urges. Taking this knowledge, you decide to leave your phone in another room when you go to bed.
You’ll develop vulnerability and compassion when you’ve faced the pain of having to reset. By opening up and sharing your flaws with others, you learn that it’s okay to be vulnerable. And the next time someone opens up to you about their failure, you now have an increased capacity for compassion.
Perhaps the greatest lesson you can learn from resetting is tenacity. Each time you reset your count, it’s an opportunity to get up and try again. Success doesn’t come to people who never stumble; success comes to people who learn how to get up again.
When you reset, the most important things you can do are share with the community that you have stumbled, and try again.
Reset vs. Relapse
It’s important to understand the difference between a reset and a relapse. While a reset means you have failed the parameters of a challenge and need to reset your count to day one, a relapse is a more serious issue. Relapse is when a member of the community who had been improving their lives slips back into old bad habits.
Regarding relapse, mental health professionals draw a fine distinction. For someone who has been diagnosed as addicted to masturbation or sex, a single instance of masturbating or having sex does not necessarily constitute a relapse, since masturbating and sex are both largely considered natural activities. Masturbation or sex can be counted as a relapse if they negatively impact a diagnosed addict’s life. This can mean bingeing (masturbating many times per day to the point where it interferes with life), engaging in risky behavior (e.g. in public or at work), or skipping out on important obligations to do it. However, for pornography addicts, any one instance of masturbating with porn can be considered a relapse, since masturbating with porn is not a natural activity. In fact, for porn addicts, deliberately browsing porn sites without masturbating could be considered a relapse, since exposure to the superstimulus of pornography is probably harmful.
Regardless of whether you’ve relapsed or not, you need to reset your counter after any single instance of breaking your challenge commitment.
Relapses don’t necessarily happen during a rebooting challenge. Some members who have already rebooted can relapse months or years later. For these people, relapse can be a good opportunity to try rebooting again.
If you do think you’ve relapsed, it is critically important to reach out to your support system at this point, including NoFap’s community. Sometimes we need to reach out for help in order to stave off a destructive spiral.
The NoFap Community
One important aspect that makes NoFap’s approach to rebooting unique is our focus on developing a strong, supportive community. While we host the largest porn recovery community on the Internet, our community is one of the most supportive, as well. With NoFap, rebooters aren’t left to read a bunch of resources and then white-knuckle their way through a reboot without any support. Instead, our users are encouraged to engage with other people during their reboots.
Community isn’t merely a nice resource to have on hand. We believe that it’s a fundamental key to recovering. By sharing their successes, struggles, and resets with an understanding community, rebooters are actively fighting against the isolationism and self-rejection that are so often at the root of pornography addiction.
While social media has acclimated us all to surface interactions with “friends” who don’t really care about us and one-time exchanges in the comments section with a wall of faceless usernames, NoFap offers a chance to get to know people on a deeper level.
The forums at NoFap.com were built specifically to foster a supportive community. Here, members are asked to share their experiences with rebooting and porn addiction. The stories the community shares are inspiring.
The forums are also a terrific place for new rebooters to get their questions answered by members who have been through it all before. Active forum members are often happy to help answer questions and share their own experiences. By continuing to engage with the forums even long after their reboot, members aren’t just helping newbies, they are helping themselves to continue their journey of growth.
The NoFap.com forums host public journals for anyone undergoing a reboot. Rebooters are encouraged to record notes on their reboot in these reports as a way to both share their story with others and reflect on their progress.
One of the very best ways of staying on the straight-and-narrow during a reboot is by pairing up with an accountability partner. An accountability partner is another rebooter to stay accountable with. After exchanging contact info, accountability partners will check in with each other daily and report that they’ve had a successful day… or that they’ve had to reset.
This partnership doesn’t have to go beyond the simple daily check-in. However, accountability partners often share stories of their addiction and success with each other. Rebooters may find this to be one of the most genuine Internet relationships they’ve ever had.
An accountability partnership can inspire rebooters to push a little harder each day. Porn addicts are often used to letting themselves down, but are eager not to let down their friends. And few things are sweeter than crossing the finish line of a rebooting challenge with a buddy!
Many of the same benefits found in an accountability partnership can be found in even larger accountability groups. By working as a team to reach their reboot goal, groups members can develop lasting relationships to see them through their recovery.
The NoFap.com forums host a growing number of groups. Each group can host their own member roster, hold events, and start their own forum. There is a group for all types of members, including Spanish language rebooters, genderqueer rebooters, and newbies looking for advice from experienced forum members.
The original birthplace of NoFap, our subreddit is a community of rebooters sharing their story and news items. This community offers the advantages and disadvantages of any large Reddit-hosted community–there is always fresh content for members to browse and read, but posts may get lost in the crowd and often go unread.
The Panic Button
Developed by an active community member and programmer, Jack Fischer, the Panic Button tool is a web page any rebooter can bookmark in case they feel the urge to browse porn. Clicking any area on the page will bring the rebooter to safe and inspiring images, videos, and community posts. The Panic Button is used millions of times a year by rebooters in need all over the world.
Download the App
The Panic Button is also available in mobile app form for Android and iOS!
- Click here to download NF Emergency for iOS, which will work on your iPad or iPhone device.
- Click here to download NoFap from Google Play. This will work on your Android tablet or smartphone.
What to Expect
Rebooters who challenge themselves to abstain from pornography and masturbation will likely experience some changes, especially if they had previously been heavy users. Rebooters should be prepared for both the cool stuff and the not-so-fun stuff.
We should note that while there is a growing body of scientific research on the negative impact of heavy pornography, there is actually very little scientific research specifically on the effects of abstaining from pornography after heavy use. The following information is largely culled from anecdotal evidence–thousands of personal stories from rebooters. What rebooters report is not scientifically proven. However, it tends to fit a larger body of research on addiction and sexual dysfunction.
For more on the science of addiction and rebooting, check out Porn Addiction 101.
The Cool Stuff
Rebooting can be difficult. Thankfully, some pretty cool stuff can happen during a reboot!
The Surge is a temporary boost in physical energy reported in males shortly after abstinence from ejaculation begins. While science has shown there is a temporary spike in testosterone levels one week after abstaining from ejaculation, it is unclear to what degree this spike is responsible for the varying Surge effects reported by the community. Whether the cause of The Surge is biochemical or psychological, rebooters should take full advantage of it and enjoy it while it lasts!
The NoFap “Superpowers”
The prospect of gaining so-called “Superpowers” is what attracts many people to NoFap initially. Several rebooters report positive psychological effects which they attribute to abstaining from pornography and masturbation. Unlike The Surge, which is reported to happen early on and not last, Superpowers are often reported as a result of sustained abstinence. Whatever the cause, we think Superpowers are a sign a rebooter is recovering the state of being they were meant to have all along.
Reported Superpowers include:
- Confidence boost. One of the most commonly reported Superpowers is a feeling of increased confidence.
- Increased sexual interest from others. Many rebooters claim they notice more signals of sexual attraction directed at them: more looks, more smiles, more flirting. Many believe this to be a side-effect of feeling more confident, while others theorize that rebooters simply notice more signals than they did when they were obsessed with porn.
- Creative mojo. Some rebooters claim to feel more creative after a reboot. Some take up new creative pursuits, or find they are better problem-solvers at work. Proponents of “sexual transmutation” view this boost in creativity as the result of directing libidinous energy into constructive projects rather than wasting it on pornography.
- Social acuity. Rebooters often report feeling more at ease in social situations, saying they are less socially anxious and more tuned into how others are feeling.
Reduced Anxiety and Shame
Many rebooters claim to feel less anxious after several weeks of rebooting, especially rebooters who had been dealing with social anxiety. The biological or psychological mechanism behind this is not well understood, but several theories make sense.
Many heavy porn users felt a strong sense of shame before rebooting, especially porn addicts who had built up a tolerance to “vanilla” pornography and started looking at more taboo forms of porn. Shame can make a person feel like a criminal, under suspicion by everyone they talk to. Rebooting can reduce that sense of shame and cause people to feel more like a “part of the human race again,” which can in turn reduce social anxiety.
Beyond the psychological issues which may cause one to feel like they will be “found out” at any time, quitting porn can remove some of the more mundane barriers which make a person feel isolated from humanity. Many rebooters enjoy never having to worry that they have the wrong browser tab showing when their friends come to visit, or having pictures on their hard drive that their family might stumble on. They don’t have to worry that their wife will be able to smell masturbation on them when they go to bed, or that they missed a stray Kleenex when cleaning the apartment before company comes over. With porn left in the past, rebooters can look forward to a future where they no longer have to hide themselves.
Breaking free from shame and the social anxiety commonly associated with it in turn transfers to other areas of life. Many rebooters find themselves more willing to approach potential sexual partners, for instance.
Having said that, we do not endorse rebooting as a cure for all psychological problems. If you feel you need help with anxiety, depression, or any other psychological issue, talk with your doctor.
Rebooters often express surprise or joy over how much time they have once they give up porn. Heavy users might have unconsciously been throwing away two, three, four, or more hours each day looking at porn. Gaining time back is one of the greatest benefits of rebooting.
However, unscheduled free time can also bring on boredom, which is a common potential trigger for relapse. We suggest you find yourself a good hobby before attempting a reboot. (See Habits and Hobbies, above.)
There is very strong anecdotal evidence that pornography is a major contributing factor–if not the primary cause–of sexual dysfunctions in heavy users. These include erectile dysfunction (porn-induced erectile dysfunction, or PIED), delayed ejaculation, genital desensitization, and a general disinterest in real-world sex. Check out our Porn Addiction 101 page for more information.
The scientific evidence for PIED get stronger each year. There is already a body of scientific studies which show that erectile dysfunction (ED) in young men was rare (about 3-5%) up until about the year 2000 when ED studies suddenly started showing a sharp incline in ED rates among young men (now about 30%). This sudden shift correlates in time with the sudden penetration of high-speed Internet into worldwide markets, which has in turn brought a new level of intensity to the addictive qualities of viewing porn. Our community has provided heaps of anecdotal evidence linking their use of high-speed Internet porn to their ED, and the science is finally catching up; since 2014, studies designed specifically to test for a link between porn and ED have shown a strong correlation, supporting the hypothesis that porn can cause ED.
The good news is that there is also strong anecdotal evidence from our community that rebooting can clear up these dysfunctions for many individuals. While science has yet to study the effects of rebooting on PIED, specifically, we can still draw conclusions from what we do know. We know that ED in young porn users is almost certainly the result of changes to the neural network of the brain called the reward system, since it has been shown that most ED in young men is not caused by low testosterone, and can’t be caused by decades of physical lifestyle choices as is the case in older men (smoking, obesity, etc). We also know that changes to the reward system caused by addiction can be reversed in addicts who have had sufficient time recovering. Our conclusion is that PIED is reversible once young men remove porn from their lives.
This has been borne out, time and time again, by rebooters who claim their sexual dysfunction was either alleviated or eliminated by a reboot.
Having said that, we make no claim that rebooting is a cure-all for sexual dysfunction. If you are experiencing sexual dysfunction after quitting porn and it is negatively impacting your life, talk to your doctor.
The Not-So-Fun Stuff
Rebooting can be difficult, and can have confusing or problematic consequences. These consequences are often temporary, and we urge rebooters to stick with it! As the saying goes, “If you’re going through hell, keep going!”
During a reboot, you WILL get sexual urges. It’s entirely normal to feel compelled to act sexually, but responding to them by masturbating to pornography is not the healthiest choice.
It’s important to remember that no urge will last forever. Rebooters who are used to responding to every sexual urge by masturbating are sometimes surprised to discover that urges will usually go away in a matter of minutes when left alone.
It is neither psychologically nor physically harmful to resist urges. In fact, learning to resist urges helps develop self-discipline and can be highly beneficial, and the harmful response to urges is opening up a browser and looking at superstimulating sexual imagery.
To deal with an urge, we recommend you hit the Panic Button and/or connect with other rebooters on NoFap. Some rebooters have adopted their own techniques for dealing with an urge, such as exercising, meditating, or learn how to “urge surf.”
The Chaser Effect is a period of significantly increased urges to look at porn that can follow an orgasm during a reboot. Rebooters may encounter the Chaser Effect after masturbating, having sex with their partners, or, rarely, after having a wet dream. It’s theorized to result from increased levels of dopamine and deltaFosB, neurochemicals involved in the reward system of the brain. When the brain experiences a pleasurable feeling, it will crave more of it.
The Chaser Effect is natural and nothing to worry about. However, rebooters who plan on still having orgasms during their reboot will want to stay vigilant for the Chaser Effect during their reboot. Forewarned is forearmed!
Also, the Chaser Effect can make it difficult for rebooters who have slipped and had to reset to jump right back into the challenge. Be aware that those first few days back will be difficult, in part because of the Chaser Effect.
Wet Dreams (Nocturnal Emissions)
Male rebooters who are used to ejaculating frequently might be surprised during a reboot to wake up and find that they’ve had a wet dream. This is completely natural; our bodies need to get rid of excess fluids somehow! Wet dreams are NOT grounds for a reset, nor can they ever be considered a kind of relapse! Like most obstacles in the rebooting process, they will likely not keep happening forever. Your body should soon acclimate to ejaculating less frequently, and the wet dreams should reduce in frequency and in many cases go away completely.
Since the advent of Internet porn, boys have started masturbating and using porn at earlier and earlier ages. For rebooters who have been masturbating since puberty or earlier, rebooting might be the first time in their lives that they’ve had a wet dream. In their cases, wet dreams are a positive sign that their recovery has begun!
Just as some rebooters have wet dreams, spontaneous emissions can occur during waking life. This can be very alarming for rebooters who have never had this happen before, or even heard of it happening. Don’t panic! It happens. Some report that spontaneous emission can happen while peeing, others have had it happen randomly while going about daily life. You do not even need to be physically aroused to have it occur.
As with wet dreams, spontaneous emissions are not grounds for a reset, and will in all likelihood go away after the rebooter acclimates to ejaculating less frequently.
Vasocongestion (“Blue Balls” / “Blue Vulva”) and Other Groin Discomfort
“Blue Balls” and “Blue Vulva” are the common terms for vasocongestion, a condition which occurs when blood is retained in the genitals after prolonged sexual arousal. During vasocongestion, deoxygenated blood is retained in the genitals which may lend a blue hue, hence “blue.” Vasocongestion can be uncomfortable but it is usually completely harmless. Some rebooters find that non-sexual massage of their genitals helps to alleviate discomfort.
Many users report similar discomfort occurring at times even without sexual arousal. It’s unclear if this is technically vasocongestion or a related condition. Often, this discomfort will be located more in the perineum (commonly referred to as the “taint”) and may happen even when there is no physical arousal. In this case, practicing kegel exercises can help alleviate pain. Again, this pain does not generally last for the entire duration of the reboot.
If you are experiencing significant groin discomfort, especially if it is severe, comes up suddenly, or is prolonged, we strongly advise that you see a doctor. Certain genital problems are serious or even dangerous, such as testicular torsion, and it is important to rule out these more serious problems.
Many rebooters report one or more periods of zero libido during their reboot. These typically occur early on, especially in the 2-6 week period.
Transitioning from an overexcited libido to none at all can be disconcerting and even scary. It can also be frustrating for people who started a reboot to help alleviate physical sexual dysfunction only to have their sexual drive taken away completely!
Furthermore, although it might seem like having a reduced libido would help a rebooter achieve victory in a rebooting challenge, flatline has actually caused several rebooters to reset! The flatline experience will cause them to panic, so they’ll sit down and look at some porn or masturbate–just to “make sure everything’s working okay.” More insidiously, some rebooters will consciously use flatline as a justification to break their streak.
If you experience flatline, don’t panic! It may last for several weeks, but it will more than likely go away eventually. If it does not go away after rebooting, talk to your doctor. There are several things that might cause more prolonged loss of sexual drive, such as anxiety, depression, or medications.
Emotional Ups and Downs
Rebooters begin a challenge hoping to experience the positive changes reported by so many members of the community. We feel these positive changes will happen, for most people, when they stick with a challenge.
However, rebooting is not a linear process! It doesn’t get more awesome every day that you are rebooting. There are ups, and there are often downs. You will experience periods of confidence, excitement, and pride. But most rebooters also experience periods of frustration, apathy, and sadness at some point, as well.
You might feel amazing for a month, then a bad day full of urges and frustration will smack you down out of nowhere. Or you might have a week of feeling apathetic, and wake up the next day feeling upbeat. Just keeping pushing forward, and take each day step by step.
Your friends, family, and coworkers might notice your emotional shifts before you do, complimenting you on your positive attitude or commenting on your moodiness. Whether this feedback is positive or negative, take it as a sign that your reboot is underway.
The entire point of rebooting is that it changes your brain, allowing structures in one of the emotions centers to literally reshape themselves into a healthier system. Many rebooters have been manipulating their emotions with porn for months, years, or even decades prior to starting a challenge. It only stands to reason that suddenly eliminating this artificial manipulation is going to cause some emotions shifts!
Most rebooters will find that the downs will pass with time, and that the net change will be a positive one. Our surveys show that after completing a reboot, most users report an increase in overall energy and motivation and about a quarter report an increase in a sense of tranquility.
However, we are not qualified to give individuals mental health advice. if you feel that your emotional state has changed significantly enough to have a negative impact on your life, or that you’ve experienced a period of negative emotions or apathy for more than a couple weeks, we urge you to speak with a doctor or mental health professional.
Life After Reboot
How do I know when I am done rebooting?
There is a distinction to be made between completing a challenge and completing a reboot. For instance, if a person is due to feel fully rebooted after, say, 82 days, they aren’t going to feel rebooted after successfully finishing a month-long April challenge. It might therefore take several consecutive month-long challenges for a person to fully reboot.
The duration it takes to achieve a full reboot will vary from person to person. The clearest sign that you’ve had a successful reboot is a return of normal sexual function. If you were experiencing PIED and can now achieve an erection with a partner, and without porn or fantasizing, your brain has experienced a significant recovery.
Subtler signs of a reboot are if you feel you have a clearer head and have stopped fantasizing about pornographic sexual situations. Perhaps you find real sexual relationships fulfilling for the first time in your life.
There is no hard-and-fast rule for determining a when a reboot has been completed, but if you’ve achieved the goals you set out with, consider yourself rebooted!
When can I return to sex?
If you completed a hard mode rebooting challenge, you should cautiously pursue sex. Monitor your thoughts during sex. If you find yourself fantasizing about pornographic situations you’ve seen or having “porn flashbacks,” rather than being fully present with your sexual partners, you might want to consider continuing your reboot with another challenge.
Once you have rebooted fully, sex will feel noticeably intimate, connected, and “present.” Awesome!
Should I quit porn forever?
We advocate that you do quit porn for good, and most people who have achieved reboot decide to cut porn out of their lives forever. There is little, if anything, redeeming about pornography. It is an unnatural superstimulus. Successful rebooters find it difficult to imagine reincorporating porn back into their now-healthy sexuality.
That said, it is a personal choice. If you have rebooted, then you should be at a point in your life where you are free from the tangles of compulsive porn use and are truly free to choose whether or not to use porn again.
Should I quit masturbation forever?
We don’t advocate that you quit masturbation forever. Most rebooters do return to it. It is a personal choice, entirely.
It is possible to return to masturbation while maintaining a healthy sexuality. Monitor your thoughts during masturbation. Do you feel compelled to masturbate, or do you feel free to choose whether or not to masturbate? Do your fantasies while masturbating feel healthy to you, or not? Do you feel a sense of sexual fulfillment from masturbating, or a sense of regret?
If you feel yourself slipping into a pattern of masturbation that feels unhealthy, especially if you find yourself masturbating excessively and in conjunction with pornography, consider doing another quick challenge to get back on board.
Can I just keep rebooting forever?
Sure! Many people decide to continue using NoFap, the counters, and the forums simply because after their reboot they decide they like the lifestyle of maintaining their parameters, most often a life free from using pornography. You could think of this as a “maintenance mode.”
Should I leave NoFap once I’ve rebooted?
If you want to, of course. But we encourage you to remain a member of NoFap. Stay signed up, return any time you want to.
We do encourage you to stick around in the forums. Participating at NoFap is a great chance to help others. Helping the NoFap community helps the world. There is no greater gift you can give than helping others get their lives back.
Also, please refrain from deleting posts/journals/anecdotes because documenting our journeys is important for spreading awareness and helping future rebooters know what to expect during their reboots.
Many rebooters forge friendships during their rebooting challenges. You’re welcome to stick around and maintain your relationships, whether you continue to reboot or not.
And don’t forget that NoFap is a healthy, supportive place to pursue other positive habits. You can find support on NoFap to do a rebooting challenge for any habit you want to make or break. We have all sorts of groups and forum sections to help you meet your goals.
If you do leave, we’ll always be here for you should you need us again in the future.
Have Further Questions?
We have developed a comprehensive FAQ (coming soon) that should contain answers to most of your questions about rebooting, porn addiction, and all things NoFap.
If you can’t find your answers in the FAQ, there is sure to be someone in the forums who will be happy to help.
If you need more direct support, sign up for NoFap Premium (tier one) or our Reboot Camp at The Academy (comprehensive, tier two). Each provides opportunities to speak face-to-face with porn recovery experts.
Final Thoughts on Rebooting
Rebooting can be a daunting process, but we think NoFap’s approach is the most fun and supportive way to do it. We have gamified the process and fostered an incredible community of positive and helpful individuals from all walks of life.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that rebooting is not a linear process. Your feelings and ability to handle urges will be up and down throughout your reboot. Remember that on the days you are feeling low, you are still making progress as a rebooter. You will not necessarily wake up each day feeling awesomer than you did the day before, but once your brain is rebooted you will feel more awesome than you did when you started!
While NoFap attempts to standardize and gamify the rebooting process in order to make it simple and accessible to everybody, the truth is that no two reboots are the same. Expect the unexpected!
What we can promise is that NoFap is a comprehensive resource to help you quit porn and achieve your goals. We provide awesome content, develop sophisticated tools, and host one of the most supportive communities on the Internet to help you through this process.
If in doubt, remember that you are not alone! You have allies in NoFap and the thriving community of rebooters that we host. Many thousands of people around the world have rebooted before you, and many will reboot after you. No matter how bad you think you have it, there is a NoFap community member who knows what you’re going through. We have seen people recover from the worst cases of porn addiction and turn their lives around. Hit the forums, ask questions, read stories. You will find someone who has been there before.