NoFap is a growing movement that claims the goal of giving up masturbation and even sex for extended periods of time, usually around 90 days. The founders describe NoFap as a community-based sexual health platform designed to help people with pornography addiction and compulsive sexual behavior.
However, NoFap is now making claims about the benefits of not masturbation that extend far beyond the relief of porn addiction. The organization reports on a whole range of sexual, physical and mental improvements, including increases in testosterone levels. Is there any evidence of this?
Claimed benefits of stopping masturbation according to NoFap
Enhancing sexual pleasure
Increased interest in healthy sexual relationships
Enhancing Sexual Drive
Improving self-control during sex
Enhanced muscle growth
Higher energy levels
Better concentration of attention
Improving erections or curing erectile dysfunction
Improving physical endurance
Improving sperm quality
Increased testosterone levels
Increased feelings of happiness
Increased motivation and increased will
Reduced stress and anxiety
Improving attitudes towards people of the opposite sex
Testosterone does have a profound effect on men’s mood. It has been shown to affect the level of motivation and feelings of happiness, and improve the course of depression. It is associated with muscle growth and physical ability (which is why it is banned for use in most competitive sports). Many aspects of male sexual function are also dependent on testosterone. Why don’t we connect the dots between NoFap and testosterone?
The reason is weak evidence. Two studies are regularly cited to support the theory that abstinence increases testosterone levels. In the first of these, ten men had their testosterone levels measured twice before masturbation and orgasm, and then 10 minutes later. The study participants were then asked to abstain from any sexual activity for three weeks. Then the described experiment with measuring the level of testosterone was repeated. In the second experiment, after abstinence, the level of this hormone was higher before masturbation than after.
Despite the findings of this study, the study itself was small. The increase in testosterone levels in men could actually come from anticipation of sexual arousal during the second experiment after abstinence. Moreover, during the first experiment, testosterone levels before and after masturbation were the same, while during the second they differed only slightly. Thus, without more data, it is impossible to claim that abstinence increases testosterone levels.
The authors of the second study reported a 45% increase in testosterone levels after seven days of abstinence. But this was a temporary peak, after which the level returned to its previous value even after continuation of abstinence. Such transient fluctuations in testosterone levels are unlikely to have a lasting effect on men’s health, they are can predominantly serve to regulate the formation of new sperm.
On the other hand, several studies have shown no effect of abstinence onbut testosterone levels or even raising these levels after masturbation or sex. Measurement of testosterone levels in 34 young healthy men after self-satisfaction showed that it increased. However, long-term effects have not been tested. At best, evidence for linking masturbation to testosterone levels is limited or mixed.
NoFap arguments are opposedandThere are well-documented health benefits of sexual activity, including masturbation. The release of endorphins during orgasm induces positive feelings. Masturbation can relieve stress, help you relax, improve sleep, lift your mood, relieve sexual tension, and even better understand your sexual needs. It may reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men, although a causal relationship is currently not proven.
In fact, masturbation itself does not appear to have negative effects on sexual and general health, in particular the testosterone-related aspects. The problem may be excessive masturbation and attitude towards self-gratification.
Personal perceptions of masturbation can have a psychological effect that affects testosterone levels. If a person has feelings of guilt after masturbation, he may have an accumulation of anxiety and depression. This feeling of guilt can stem from feelings of immorality, such as dishonesty towards a partner or religious conflict. A study that examined the motivation for sexual abstinence found that it is usually associated with the perception of masturbation as something wrong and unhealthy.
The stress of prolonged feelings of guilt, depression, and anxiety can cause testosterone levels to drop. In such a situation, abstinence can alleviate these mental problems and, in theory, contribute to an increase in testosterone levels. In this case, perhaps the arguments should not be about masturbation itself and its frequency, but about improving the understanding of sexual behavior.
At the same time, abstaining from masturbation can help people with a destructive pornography addiction. Abstraction from porn, masturbation, and even long-term sex can help break the cycle. In addition, the benefits of not masturbating are sporadic stories, and there is simply no evidence of its effect on testosterone levels.
By Daniel Kelly, biochemist, University of Sheffield Hallam.
This article was originally published in The Conversation
Translation – MedNews