NoFap is an anti-masturbation movement. Supporters say avoiding masturbation for prolonged periods has many benefits, including enhanced focus and concentration and decreased pornography use.

The NoFap movement endorses a specific understanding of masturbation and human sexuality. It argues that pornography is harmful. NoFap suggests that avoiding masturbation can help people regain control over their lives and avoid compulsive or addictive sexual behavior.

This article explores the potential risks and benefits of avoiding masturbation, and how NoFap differs from the practice of semen retention.

Students giving high-fives. Perhaps they are trying to embrace the NoFap lifestyle.Share on Pinterest
Credit Image: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images argues that people can avoid compulsive sexual behavior and break porn or sex addiction by avoiding masturbation.

Supporters of avoiding masturbation claim it:

  • refocuses their attention on their relationship
  • helps them conform to their religious or moral values
  • decreases their use of pornography
  • improves their focus and concentration
  • gives them time for other pursuits

Some say it has more extreme benefits, such as depression relief or overall health improvements.

People who feel guilty about masturbation or spend significant time masturbating may find avoiding it offers time for other activities, which may improve health.

However, no scientific evidence suggests masturbation is harmful. Additionally, no studies state that avoiding masturbation offers any specific benefit.

A 2015 case study notes that some evidence may suggest there is a link between masturbation and poorer mental health. However, this research says other studies consider it is a healthy behavior that improves mood.

While some people may experience guilt following masturbation, perhaps due to cultural or religious beliefs, it is not a reason to feel shame. Masturbation is a common and normal habit. It only becomes an issue if interferes with work, social life, and regular activities.

The belief that sex and pornography addiction are common is at the core of the NoFap anti-masturbation movement. While some research suggests pornography addiction is real, many dispute this idea.

For example, both the American Psychiatric Association and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders do not recognize porn addiction as an official diagnosis. The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists also argue that there is insufficient scientific evidence to support the existence of sex or porn addiction.

There are no real health risks associated with not masturbating, though some people may find it challenging and frustrating, triggering moodiness or irritation. In some cases, it may also cause epididymal hypertension.

While there may be no immediate health risks, research consistently documents numerous health benefits associated with masturbation.

People who choose not to masturbate could miss out on these benefits, which include:

  • Sperm and semen health in males: Regular ejaculation may keep sperm count within normal ranges. It may also promote healthy, well-formed sperm and normal semen volume.
  • Better sexual health: Masturbation may help a person better understand their sexual desires, learn what feels good to them, and communicate with their partner. Sex therapists routinely recommend masturbation to help both partners have better sex.
  • Abstinence: Masturbation can make it easier for people who want to practice abstinence. It can also be an important harm reduction strategy to prevent pregnancy and slow the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

Additionally, some research suggests regular ejaculation, through masturbation or sex, may provide health benefits.

A 2016 study found regular ejaculation may lower the risk of prostate cancer. Ejaculating more than 21 times per month offered the most benefits, compared to those who ejaculated less frequently.

However, the study looked at middle-aged males who were self-reporting, so these findings may not apply to everyone. More research is needed to conclusively demonstrate a link between frequent ejaculation and lower prostate cancer risk.

NoFap urges people to stop masturbating, especially to pornography. This is in contrast to semen retention, the practice of masturbating without ejaculating.

Some semen retention supporters argue that it offers improvements to health, such as improved fertility or better quality sperm. However, there is no evidence that semen retention provides any medical benefit.

Others promote the technique as a form of mindfulness that can heighten sexual pleasure or give people greater orgasm control. Some also use semen retention to learn how to orgasm without ejaculating.

Research suggests that being able to orgasm without ejaculating makes it easier for people to have multiple orgasms. However, there are no rigorous scientific studies that investigate the practice or established strategies for multiple orgasms.

Masturbation is not a medical problem. People do not need to see a doctor because they masturbate or choose not to. However, those with specific questions about masturbation should consult a sex-positive doctor or therapist.

People should consider seeing a doctor if they are:

  • feeling that pornography, or other sexual practices, control their life or harm their relationships
  • experiencing pain, negative emotions, or guilt when masturbating
  • having trouble getting an erection with a partner
  • experiencing any change in sexual function
  • having frequent trouble ejaculating, or ejaculating much easier than they want to

Masturbation is a normal and harmless sexual practice that can be part of a healthful sex life. It even offers some health benefits.

However, if it begins to interfere with a person’s daily life, they may consider trying to stop or masturbating less frequently.

People who want to stop masturbating can get support from the NoFap community, but there is generally no medical or moral reason to cease.

A person who feels pressure to stop masturbating should consider their own values. It is their decision if they masturbate or not, and how often they do it.