Porn, booze, smokes, gambling – discover how to take a broom to the four vices most likely to bring a man undone
Step away from the laptop and reacquaint yourself with three-dimensional objects of desire. This is the MH guide to shutting down your porn habit number
What started as a handy way to relieve tension now absorbs hours of your free time; it has you missing The Walking Dead because you were busy watching Intercourse with a Vampire. Pornography still generates more internet traffic than anything else online. And it can impact on more than just your download limits: Charlie Sheen’s exwife Denise Richards cited his ‘habit’ in divorce proceedings.
Yet porn is the convenience food to the haute cuisine of real sex. While that microwave burger is quick and cheap, it will ultimately leave you feeling dirty – and not in a good way. Here’s how to put steak au poivre back on your menu.
While we’re sure porn stars like Jenna Haze and Sasha Grey are perfectly lovely women, it is not a good idea to spend too much virtual time with them. “Your feel-good hormone dopamine spikes when you watch porn,” says Dr Chris Forester from counselling service Help Porn Addiction. “In time, this over stimulation manifests as a loss of libido and erectile dysfunction 30 years too early.” This is why users demand increasingly extreme videos.
Masturbation causes the release of the same chemicals as sex with a partner, forming a biochemical attachment – except with websites rather than people. It can even affect your career: a study by Nielsen Online found more than a quarter of employees have watched online porn during the working day.
French research has also linked the compelling nature of porn to your brain’s ‘mirror neuron system’. This skews your expectations of what sex should be like. “Porn has a way of normalising extreme sexual behaviour,” says Dr Tim Jones, a psychologist at the University of Worcester. “If you try to play out this fantasy with an unwilling partner, it can cause irreparable damage to your relationship.” It’s time to log off, gentlemen.
If you can’t resist tapping ‘.xxx’ into the url bar, remove the thing that triggers you to log on: being left alone with your laptop. “Keep your computer and DVD player in a busy room,” says Dr Phillippa Lally, who studies habitual behaviour at University College London. Your brain associates laptops and phones with porn, so find other habitual uses of your gadgetry. Tweeting or uploading to Instagram are perfect.
Now admit you’ve been indulging too much – to someone else. “The habit loses some of its appeal when it’s no longer covert,” says Lally. “Ask a close friend to install an internet filter on your laptop.” McAfee Safe Eyes or NetNanny block access unless you enter your friend’s password.
Other sites offer ‘accountability software’ that will send a report of your online behaviour to a designated person, helping you stay on the digital straight and narrow.
“Most guys first come to porn simply because they are bored,” says Forester. Find moreish replacements for your X-rated downtime such as a hardcore Fortnite sitting or a heavy squats session at the gym. Exercise will boost the dopamine that’s depleted by heavy porn use.
Finally, if you’re reading this next to a non-pixelated lady, your rehab can start now. Sex triggers a high greater than that of masturbation, says the Kinsey Institute. Your brain will soon crave the rush your partner gives you more than anything PornHub has to offer.
You’ve missed dates or family engagements because you were ‘otherwise engaged’
You’re stressed about people finding out about your habit
You’re starting to believe that every woman harbours slutty desires and acrobatic flexibility
You can name at least 15 different porn stars
The content you seek out is getting stronger – or just a lot weirder
You’ve tried to access porn at work or at a friend or family member’s house
You no longer enjoy ‘vanilla’ sex with real women
1. Feel happier
You’ll take fewer sick days and be less likely to experience a bout of depression compared with men who still watch a lot of porn. University of Wisconsin
2. Avoid heart attacks
Men with erectile dysfunction are 1.6 times more likely to suffer heart disease. By quitting porn, you’ll strengthen your ticker. The American Heart Association
3. A higher libido
When you avoid 2D distractions on porn sites, your appetite for real sex increases. With interest. Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine
4. Healthier swimmers
An Aussie study showed that abnormal sperm cells decreased by 12 per cent in men who had sex every day for a week. ESHRE
5. Get stronger
No one said porn was all bad. A moderate 4min indulgence before hitting the gym will deliver a performance-enhancing peak in your testosterone levels. University of Wisconsin
It’s never too late to offset a toxic lifestyle. Read on to discover how to reset your heart and cut fat to undo years of alcohol damage
Take a cold, hard look at the past 10 years. If, a bit like legendary Hollywood drinkers Russell Crowe or Colin Farrell, you’ve spent much of the last decade caning it, then your body is due some attention. A sustained barrage of live-for-the-moment hedonism can often lead to the equivalent volume of pain later in life. Unless you’re the bastard son of Keith Richards, that is. First, determine the level of damage you’ve accrued, then learn how to undo the effects and skip the long-term consequences for your health. This round’s on us.
Hangovers are misleading. They make us think our punishment is finished 24 hours (okay, 48) after we call time on our boozing. But the real damage is insidious.
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