Lifestyle

Benefits of NoFap Every Man Should Know About

May 4, 2022

Medically reviewed by

David Culpepper, MD

Masturbation, or “fapping” as it’s commonly known, is a normal and generally healthy practice for guys.

According to one survey, a sizable 92% of American men regularly masturbate...and that's not even the highest percentage on this list of countries. 

There are real benefits to masturbation: it can help to release sexual tension and elevate serotonin and dopamine, which can decrease stress and help you feel more relaxed and calm.

Masturbation is considered healthy by most sex experts and physicians.

There is, however, a rising movement that insists that refraining from masturbation can provide even more health benefits. Members of the so-called "NoFap" community claim to experience a wide variety of physical and mental health benefits from holding off for long periods of time, with some even saying it cured their erectile dysfunction.

So what's the story on NoFap?

What Is NoFap? 

The NoFap movement started online in the early 2010s. The debate started – and the movement was possibly born – because a study at the time suggested that refraining from masturbation for just seven days could lead to a 45.7 percent increase in testosterone levels

Men began sharing their experiences online, and the potential benefits of not masturbating birthed a vigorous discussion and online community.

Since then, the phrase NoFap has been trademarked, a website was created around the idea, and thousands of members participate in various online communities.

How Does NoFap Work? 

Although there are no clearly defined rules for NoFap, community members recommend abstaining from porn, masturbation, and even sex for at least 90 days. They claim that it takes about this long to "re-wire" your brain and help to curb potential addictions that you might unknowingly have. 

Since the rules are flexible, some members also claim that “edging” is an acceptable alternative to masturbating.

Known medically as semen retention, the practice of edging involves going right up to the point of an orgasm and then stopping all stimulation just before ejaculation. They claim this method is a way to experience an orgasm but doesn’t count as masturbation since there is no ejaculation involved. 

What Are the Health Benefits of NoFap? 

The potential health benefits of the NoFap movement range from the likely to the absurd. 

The community claims that abstaining from masturbation can lead to a myriad or all of the following:

  • Increased happiness
  • Boosted self-esteem
  • Higher energy levels 
  • Reduced stress
  • Lower anxiety
  • Higher testosterone production
  • Muscle growth
  • Better sleep
  • Improve concentration
  • Higher stamina
  • Reduced erectile dysfunction
  • Higher quality of sperm
  • Potential spiritual awakening
  • Deeper appreciation of sexual partners
  • Better self-control
  • Deeper voice
  • Reduced premature ejaculation
  • Stronger hair
  • Less anger
  • Faster wound-healing

Some of these claims are subjective; there's no ideal way to measure happiness or the possibility of a spiritual awakening, for instance. Others are just unlikely.

For example, erectile dysfunction is generally caused by physical conditions impacting the circulatory system. While NoFap might help to increase penis sensitivity, it likely won’t cure erectile dysfunction, particularly when caused by underlying medical conditions.  

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What Does the Research Say About NoFap? 

A lot of the benefits of NoFap are anecdotal for a reason: there just doesn’t seem to be much evidence to support the NoFap claims. The testosterone study that contributed to sparking the movement has largely held up to review, but there isn’t much evidence for anything else. 

One case series, for example, looked into whether masturbation contributes to poor mental health. The findings suggest that masturbation is a healthy behavior that can improve mood. 

Other studies, meanwhile, suggest that pornography addictions can be real and can lead to excessive masturbation. NoFap has the potential to break this tendency and help develop better masturbation habits in the future. 

For many, the benefits of NoFap may have more to do with the self-control, sense of community, and concurrent improvements to exercise or habit routines than ceasing masturbation specifically.

Are There Any Risks To NoFap? 

Just because there is limited research to back up the benefits of NoFap doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

Plenty of research has suggested that the placebo effect is quite real, even if someone knows they're taking a placebo.

And, there aren’t really any adverse side effects that accompany abstaining from masturbation. At most, it might lead to frustration or irritability, but that’s as far as the negative side effects are likely to go.

Is Masturbation Healthier Than NoFap? 

Although there isn’t much research that backs up the claims for NoFap, there is evidence that masturbation (and sex in general) is a safe and healthy behavior in moderation and regularity. The largest physical individual benefit seems to come in the form of reducing the risk of prostate cancer. 

For example, one study followed 32,000 men over 18 years and monitored their ejaculation habits. It found that men who ejaculated at least 21 times a month had a 20% reduced risk of developing prostate cancer when compared to men ejaculating 4 to 7 times a month. It’s not perfectly clear why this might be the case, but urologists theorize that ejaculation might help to flush out harmful substances and chemicals that build up in semen. These chemicals may have a negative impact on the prostate and possibly lead to cancer. 

It’s important to note that during subsequent follow-ups, the results were not replicated. A review based on this conclusion found that masturbation habits had little to no impact on prostate health or function. 

As a result, the scientific debate on the impact of ejaculation and the prostate continues. 

The Takeaway 

Once a man reaches his teenage years, masturbation often comes into the picture. The research thus far suggests masturbation is healthy and normal when done in moderation, based on existing medical literature.

But a growing body of men suggest that masturbation could be bad for you. In fact, many of the same benefits associated with masturbation are claimed by those who believe in abstaining.

The research is unclear as to whether or not refraining from masturbating can provide the benefits that NoFap members claim, but most research suggests quitting masturbation specifically is not beneficial. Porn-associated guilt, however, may be another thing entirely.

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Sources

Conditioned placebo analgesia persists when subjects know they are receiving a placebo | PubMed

Ask the Experts: Does Having More Ejaculations Lessen the Chance of Prostate Cancer? | Urology Health

Ejaculation frequency and subsequent risk of prostate cancer | PubMed

World's Largest Masturbation Survey Uncovers How Traditional Views of Masculinity Prevent Men from Having Fulfilling Sex Lives & Relationships. | Pr NewsWire

8 Benefits of Male Masturbation | Health & Fertility. | Sperm Bank California

A research on the relationship between ejaculation and serum testosterone level in men | PubMed

What is NoFap™? | NoFap.com

Semen retention: Is it healthy to hold in semen? | Medical News Today

Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update | NIH

Can Masturbatory Guilt Lead to Severe Psychopathology: A Case Series | NCBI