If the sudden abundance of mustaches on Instagram weren’t indication enough, November is Men’s Health Awareness Month. Typically, men celebrate the annual brand holiday by growing out their facial hair to raise awareness for the “health crisis” facing men — specifically, prostate cancer, testicular cancer and their generally higher rates of suicide and shorter lifespans.
All worthy issues.
But there’s another group — one more fringe, more renegade — that’s trying to co-opt November and push a separate male-oriented health agenda: NoFap, an online community dedicated to help men stop masturbating.
Members of the NoFap subreddit have dubbed this month New Life November, a nod to the life-altering effects of quitting masturbation. It is, they argue, the perfect time for men to start anew (or “reboot,” in NoFap jargon) as a man who’s no longer beholden to chronic masturbation.
To hear the NoFappers (or “Fapstronauts”) tell it, abstaining from porn and masturbation is something akin to drinking from the fountain of youth. The vicious cycle of watching porn, masturbating and orgasming (or “PMO”), only to do it again once the man’s refractory period ends, robs a man of his virility, strength, intelligence and emotional capacity. Not masturbating restores all of these things — and makes you a better lover as well. NoFappers tend to refer to these health benefits as “super powers.”
Naturally, Twitter users have co-opted the campaign, tweaking it to No Nut November, and making fun of the NoFappers’ ridiculous claims about the health and mental benefits of not busting a load.
The idea that not masturbating makes you superhuman is both laughably and demonstrably false. Studies about the effects of abstaining from ejaculation show that testosterone levels in men spike after seven days of abstinence, but then regress and normalize. (Of course, some NoFappers call bullshit on this research.)
Dubious as NoFap’s health claims may be, there are scores of men who say they were hopelessly addicted to internet pornography before they joined the NoFap movement.
The earnestness of New Life November proponents and the mockery of No Nut November strikes at the heart of the ongoing debate about whether cyber and sex addiction are legitimate afflictions. The official stance of the American Psychological Association is no, sex and cyber addictions aren’t real addictions, because they don’t involve a chemical dependency. Instead, they’re classified as compulsions, behaviors people have a hard time controlling and can easily overdo.
But there are some psychologists who treat excessive porn consumption and masturbation as a classic addiction. There’s even a movement to have them officially classified as such in the next edition of the DSM. And that’s in addition to the thousands of testimonials from NoFappers who claim total abstinence was the only way to effectively rewire their bodies and minds from the debilitating effects of having once cranked it nonstop.
If Twitter is any indication, their plight is unlikely to garner any mainstream sympathy anytime soon. But in New Life November, they have a supportive cohort, and come December they’ll be strong enough to destroy us all.