- NoFap is increasingly popular, but there is little scientific evidence backing up proponents’ claims.
- NoFap is particularly popular in groups of men whose religions discourage masturbation.
- NoFap may be most helpful for those men who experience extreme guilt about masturbating.
What is NoFap?
Simply put: The term NoFap means no masturbating. The term (which is now trademarked) began as a message thread on the social media site Reddit. On Reddit, users debated the effects of giving up masturbation, proposing a wide array of possible benefits — from mental clarity to improved health.
This debate is nothing new. In Victorian England, for example, masturbation was considered a serious illness that negatively affected both physical and mental health.
The NoFap movement (named for the slang term “to fap,” which is often used for masturbation because of the sound it makes) has, in the early twenty-first century, taken on some elements of the Victorian view.
Sites like the branded NoFap take on what they see as the social ills of not only masturbation but also porn addiction, porn overuse, and compulsive sexual behavior. The site claims that overcoming these practices will “improve your relationships” and “help you reach your sexual health goals.”
To try NoFap, men generally agree to be abstinent from masturbation and pornography for a period of time to “reset” their sex drives and their libidos. There is no one answer to how long men must abstain, as different groups promote different approaches to abstinence. The original Reddit discussion suggested forgoing masturbation for seven days.
Why do men try NoFap?
Men who are experiencing problems with their sexual health, including problems with erectile dysfunction (ED), sometimes consider NoFap as a way to address lost libido and ED. For some, this seems an easier and cheaper way to address sexual dysfunction than medications.
Some men are also drawn to the NoFap idea because of the way that some religious groups promote the practice. Evangelical Christians and members of other religious groups who have restrictive views on sex and sexuality find that the idea fits neatly into their religious ideologies.
Men whose religion teaches that masturbation and the use of pornography are sinful are more likely to embrace the idea of abstaining from masturbation as an admirable goal.
What are the reported benefits of NoFap?
Men who engage in the practice and encourage others to do so often claim personal victories of:
- Finding a refocus on their relationship
- Helping them conform to religious or moral values
- Decreasing their use of pornography
- Improving their focus and concentration
- Relieving depression
- Improving overall health
- Reducing the incidence of erectile dysfunction
Is there proof that NoFap works?
Much of the proof of the usefulness of NoFap is anecdotal, stories told by men who say it worked for them. There are a few studies that back this up in very specific cases. For example, one study found that for men who feel very guilty about masturbation (because of cultural values), giving up masturbation can increase mental health outcomes.
For men without severe guilt associated with masturbation, however, this benefit is likely minimal.
Indeed, to date, there is no scientific evidence that proves that masturbation is harmful. Instead, studies such as this one find that masturbation is part of a man’s healthy sexual development.
Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence that links NoFap to successfully treating erectile dysfunction. Abstaining from ejaculating for a few days does increase testosterone and sperm quality; however, these are not inherently related to erectile function, which is driven by blood flow.
That said, there are many self-reported success stories available online that claim that NoFap helped with ED. These stories may report a placebo effect, a benefit related to the man’s belief in the idea more than to the practice itself. Placebo effects are real, however, and it may be that if you believe NoFap will work for you, then perhaps it will.
Is there a downside to NoFap?
Psychologists in particular warn against the demonization of masturbation, saying that making men feel that masturbation is wrong will only exacerbate guilt and anxiety, two mental issues that make erectile dysfunction worse. Dr. David J. Ley warns that the NoFap movement can be “dangerous” as it functions on “bad data, lack of knowledge and the intrusion of moral values.”
Is NoFap for you?
Each man should decide for himself if he would like to try NoFap. There is no fee to pay and little risk associated with simply not masturbating for seven days to see if any good mental or physical results are felt. As long as men do not become obsessively guilty about their desire to pleasure themselves, the risks are very low.
If you will not fall into a psychologically depressive hole from abstaining, and if you would simply like to try it to see if it works, we encourage you to read about both sides of the NoFap debate — those who promote it and those who question its usefulness.
It is also always a good idea to consult with your doctor about any significant decisions you make with your body. Talk to a trusted medical professional and make your own call.
eDrugstore is Here for You
Whether you are struggling with sexual function issues such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation or relationship and intimacy issues, eDrugstore can help. Check out our medication guide or follow the eDrugstore blog for more information about sexual health and other men’s health issues.
Elizabeth Nichols is an experienced and flexible author with extensive experience in both popular media and academic publishing. She specializes in health, medical and travel writing.