- Proponents of No Fap claim masturbation abstinence boosts testosterone, improves relationships, and more.
- Research shows that masturbation doesn’t negatively affect testosterone. In fact, studies show that masturbation can improve heart health and sleep, boost body confidence, and even cut your prostate cancer risk.
Every fall, America becomes a nation of hairy, sexually frustrated men thanks to two notable challenges: No Shave November and No Nut November. By December 1, most men emerge clean-shaven (and presumably, out of lotion). But for men who embrace No Fap, shunning masturbation isn’t a once-a-year battle of wills. It’s a way to boost their testosterone, self-confidence, and improve their relationships. At least, that’s what they believe. But they’re sorely mistaken.
What Is No Fap?
More than just an onomotopoeic take on No Nut November, No Fap is a movement where men encourage each other to abstain from porn use and self-pleasure for anywhere from a week to several months.
There’s a secular organization, NoFap Porn Addiction Recovery, established to help men “overcome porn addiction, porn overuse, and compulsive sexual behavior.” And over on subreddit, r/NoFap, around 957,000 members (who call themselves ‘Fapstronauts’) share their struggles, jokes, and memes about purported No Fap benefits, including recovering from porn addiction and compulsive sexual behavior.
Fapstronaut u/JUMPsuperstar posted that abstaining from masturbation helped him realize the unrealistic beauty standards of women in porn. “Before No Fap, regular women no longer turned me on,” he wrote. “I felt lifeless and dry. During No Fap, just the sound of a woman’s happy voice is enough to send a shiver down my spine. It’s magnificent.”
u/Naked-Snake-Vic-Boss, on the other hand, posted, “Here is the secret to No Fap: ‘No Fap is about BECOMING THE BEST VERSION OF OURSELVES by directing our sex energy toward much more productive habits/activities/goals that represent the BEST VERSION OF OURSELVES.’”
No Fap Movement at a Glance
- No Fap is a movement where men abstain from masturbating, supposedly to gain physical, mental, and emotional benefits.
- Proponents believe not masturbating can help them recover from porn addiction and compulsive sexual behavior.
What Are the Benefits of No Fap?
No Fap evangelists believe that abstaining has many physical and mental health benefits, including enhanced stamina, reduced stress and anxiety, and increased testosterone.
Purported Mental Health Benefits
- Increased happiness
- Higher confidence and self esteem
- Increased motivation and willpower
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Stronger spirituality
- More self-acceptance
- Improved attitude and appreciation toward other sexes
Purported Physical Health Benefits
- Increased energy levels
- Better physical performance and stamina
- Muscle growth
- Improved or cured erectile dysfunction
- Increased sperm count and quality
- Improved sleep quality
- More focus and concentration
But from a scientific standpoint, there isn’t much evidence to support any of these No Fap benefit claims, especially those related to the impact on the male sex hormone, says Calvert.
“There are very few studies available to suggest any benefit from not ejaculating. The studies that are available are small and old, and don’t suggest that lack of ejaculation is a real benefit to men” notes Calvert.
What Research Says
When talking about testosterone, Fapstronauts often cite a 2002 study (1) that found that men who didn’t masturbate for a week got a 45 percent boost in testosterone on the seventh day. What they tend to leave out: the study was very small—just 28 men—and the day after T spiked, the men’s testosterone levels were back to normal. A larger study (2) found that masturbating can actually increase T.
Another supposed benefit of skipping self-pleasure is that it created healthier sperm. But the research isn’t conclusive there. One 2018 study (3) found that abstaining from masturbation for 24 hours lead to improved sperm motility. But other research found that while abstaining for one day increased sperm motility, not ejaculating for any longer than that actually causes sperm motility to decline (4).
The even better news: There’s plenty of other evidence that ejaculating is good for you.
Is No Fap Healthy?
Science hasn’t shown that any of the purported benefits of abstaining—including boosting testosterone levels and increasing sperm motility—are legitimate.
The Health Benefits of Masturbation
Improved heart health
Men who had sex just once a month or less were 45% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than men who had two or more orgasms per week, according to 2010 research (5).
More body confidence
A 2018 TENGA 2018 Global Self-Pleasure Report found that 63% of men who masturbated reported they had more self and body confidence than men who didn’t.
People who masturbate report taking less time to fall asleep. And their sleep quality is better too, according to a 2019 study (6).
Reduced prostate cancer risk
One study noted that men who ejaculated 21 times per month were 50% less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who only ejaculated four to seven times per month (7).
The Risks and Side Effects of No Fap
There are no risks to not masturbating, says Calvert. But No Fap is something that Calvert’s patients often ask him about, and he gives them his honest medical opinion.
“In my opinion, the only reason why someone would engage in No Nut November or No Fap is because of engrained familial or societal guilt associated with the practice,” he says. In other words, if you feel guilty about masturbating, you could get some personal satisfaction from overcoming the urge to do it.
But if you’re looking for a way to boost T, this isn’t it. “Until a larger, methodologically sound article comes out saying otherwise, I will continue to encourage men to ejaculate as much as they would like to,” says Calvert.
No Fap Benefits and Risks
- The studies showing that No Fap increases testosterone are small and have been discounted by most researchers.
- Masturbating has plenty of documented benefits, including improved sleep, heart health, and body confidence, and a lower risk for prostate cancer.
“Go jerk off. It’s good for you.”
Can You Really Be Addicted to Masturbating?
Ok, but what about the claims that No Fap can cure a masturbation addiction? “I don’t think that one can really be addicted to masturbating,” says Calvert. Science backs him up: Masturbation addiction is not recognized by the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
You can have a fapping compulsion, says Calvert, where you have a very strong urge or desire to masturbate. But giving into those urges is only a problem if it impacts your daily life or you cause yourself physical harm.
“If you are masturbating instead of going to your kid’s birthday party, you should probably ask a trusted friend or doctor for help,” says Calvert. “The same goes if you are bleeding from your genitals due to masturbatory frequency (both of which I have seen in practice).”
“From a scientific perspective, there is no downside to masturbation as long as it isn’t hurting those around you. Go jerk off. It’s good for you,” says Calvert.
The Bottom Line
If you’re interested in participating in No Nut November or joining a NoFap community, just know it’s not going to give your T levels a boost.