Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more
Way back in the 2011 internet archives, there’s a Reddit convo between people who decided to put the kibosh on jerking off. Enter the age of “NoFap.”
Fast forward to 2020: NoFap has evolved into a full-on trademarked website, complete with forums and challenges for giving up self-pleasure and porn.
Despite how it might sound, NoFap isn’t necessarily about the pursuit of #wholesome. Fans focus on a range of mental, physical, and spiritual benefits.
- NoFap = giving up masturbation and porn for at least a week.
- Fans say it has several health benefits, from better sleep and muscle tone to heightened testosterone and mental clarity.
- Most NoFap health perks are purely anecdotal. Research does indicate that avoiding the Big O for a week boosts men’s testosterone and improves sperm quality.
- According to science, you can get the proven sexual benefits of NoFap after just 7 days.
- Many people in the NoFap community claim that you get the most perks by sticking with it for 90 days.
- Folx of any gender or orientation can nix fapping, but most recorded research and anecdotes reflect a straight male experience.
So what does science say about swearing off self-pleasure?
NoFap began when one dude stopped jacking his johnson because of a study he read. The research reported that 28 men who abstained from ejaculation for 7 days boosted their testosterone by 45.7 percent.
Aside from that study, most NoFap claims come from anecdotal evidence. Participants report a wide range of mental, physical, and even spiritual perks of “fapstinence.”
Mind over matter — the mental benefits
Whether they last 7 days or 90, NoFap fans say these are some of the best benefits of nixing masturbation for a time.
- less stress and anxiety
- greater happiness and self-acceptance
- increased willpower and motivation
- a boost of self-confidence
- feeling more in touch with their spiritual sides
- a deeper appreciation and respect for the opposite sex
Harder, better, faster, stronger — the physical benefits
Self-confidence is one thing. But what physical edge does fapstinence offer?
- more energy
- better sleep
- stronger muscles
- laser-sharp concentration
- improved stamina and physical performance
- higher-quality sperm
- fewer symptoms — or even a full cure — of erectile dysfunction
Just like any other internet rabbit hole, you can find plenty of unproven information about NoFap.
It’s hard to say whether or not people in the NoFap community are seeing real results or experiencing the placebo effect. But is that even a bad thing? Research shows that the placebo effect still holds even when folx know they’re only getting a placebo! It’s a mind game.
Depending on your expectations, you might benefit from the website’s forums and strategies even if there’s not much science to back it up.
The lowdown on self-pleasure
While keeping your hands off your bits for a week could boost testosterone and sperm quality, there’s not much research on the other mental and physical benefits.
But here’s the rub: Experts say masturbation is actually good for your health.
The deets on porn
First off, getting frisky with yourself doesn’t require porn. But if you prefer visuals, there’s evidence that porn could have perks.
Interestingly, one study of porn-watching peeps reported the same benefits that NoFappers say they get from avoiding porn. 🤔
Both male and female study participants said hardcore porn improved:
- their sex lives
- their attitudes about sex
- their perception of the opposite sex
- their feeling about life in general
Also, the perks increased the longer they watched.
NoFap = avoiding masturbation altogether, while semen retention = avoiding ejaculation.
Wild as it sounds, people with penises can climax without ejaculating. It’s a strategy often used in tantric sex and karezza.
Since the term “semen retention” is kinda dry (ha.ha.), people also call it:
- coitus reservatus
- seminal conservation
- sexual continence
Peeps who practice semen retention say it has the same mental, physical, and spiritual benefits as fapstinence. But it also requires some serious mind and body control. Regular Kegels and other pelvic exercises help.
Semen retention is a great way to get the benefits of NoFap without losing the perks of self-pleasure and porn.
There are no health risks associated with abstaining from masturbation. That said, exiling yourself from Fap-land means you will miss out on the research-backed benefits of self-pleasure and sex.
Head’s up if you’re experiencing sex probs: NoFap is not a proven cure for erectile dysfunction or low testosterone. Seek professional medical care instead of DIYing your health with NoFap.
Remember, NoFap is not a proven medical strategy.
Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these issues:
- premature ejaculation
- erectile dysfunction
- unexplained changes in libido
- discomfort during sex
- any kind of physical sexual dysfunction
Consider calling a mental health professional if your sexual concerns are related to:
- depression or anxiety
- feeling sad, hopeless, or unmotivated
- concerns about compulsive or risky sexual impulses
So when does masturbation or porn become a legit problem?
Warning signs of compulsive sexual behavior
- feeling helpless to stop your urge to masturbate
- skipping work, school, or social activities to masturbate or watch porn
- preoccupation with sex to the point that it interferes with your daily routines
- lying to friends, family, or co-workers about your behaviors or where you’ve been
- obsession around sex and sexual fantasies
- immediate guilt or regret after masturbating or watching porn
Whether you’re struggling with compulsive masturbation, sex, or porn use, you’re not alone.
The NoFap community might be helpful for you, but it’s certainly not your only option. Check with your doctor or local healthcare center for info on support groups or mental health advice.
Masturbation is normal and healthy, though it can start to negatively impact life for some people.
If you’re hoping to cut back on self-pleasure and porn, the NoFap community could be a great resource. There’s no harm in trying NoFap, though most of the mental and physical health perks aren’t backed by research.
If you have concerns about your sexual or mental health, consider reaching out to your doctor, psychologist, or sex therapist.