In the last few years, November has become a month when people give thanks while giving up solitary pleasures.
That’s because a number of people are using November as a month to cool their jets, so to speak, and not masturbate.
The hands-off holiday is colloquially called “No Nut November,” when men and women vow not to masturbate for 30 days.
It’s not as hard it as it might sound: Participants actually are allowed three strikes, and sex with a parter is OK.
But No Nut November isn’t a solo affair. It’s competing with “New Life November,” a 30-day “rebooting” sponsored by NoFap.com, an organization that claims to be a comprehensive sexual health platform that empowers people to express their sexualities “free from compulsive behavior.”
The big difference is that No Nut November is more of a loosely organized social media phenomenon in which people post tweets like this to celebrate the new “powers” they’ve gained as a result of not masturbating.
By contrast, New Life November is run by an organization geared toward helping users recover from porn addiction.
There is no real leader of No Nut November, nor a website. Meanwhile, the company overview in NoFap’s press kit claims users ― as opposed to “members” ― quit porn in order to reverse porn-induced sexual dysfunctions, such as erectile dysfunction and anorgasmia, and improve romantic relationships and quality of life.
As you might expect, the celebrations get confused with each other, but one NoFap spokesperson doesn’t seem too worried about that.
“Some users of NoFap ... have been discussing ‘No Nut November’ and finding it to be a fun event that motivates them to reach their goals,” the NoFap representative, who didn’t want to be identified by name, told Newsweek by email.
The spokesperson said both events increase people’s awareness about how their sexual lifestyles might affect their daily lives.
“NoFap isn’t looking to ban or legislate pornography, but we are looking to help raise awareness so that people can make an educated decision about their porn use,” the spokesperson said.
The group claims to have more than 200,000 members, or “fapstronauts,” who believe that being the masters of their domains boosts their confidence, increases creativity and sexual interest from others, and makes them more at ease in social situations, according to the British website Gay Star News.
One 32-year-old man named Alex told the publication he decided that every time he felt the porn urge, he would instead study Spanish.
“Now I’m nearly fluent,” he told the website.
NoFap founder Alexander Rhodes told HuffPost “there are currently over 35 neurological studies that show that pornography can lead to brain changes and negative side effects that can impact sexual health, relationships, and the lives of consumers.”
However, many sex experts are skeptical.
Los Angeles sex therapist Dr. Chris Donaghue admits his advice contradicts the ideals of No Nut November: “I say, jerk off more, lots more!”
He also suggests that porn and masturbation actually benefit the body.
“Porn use and masturbation are a healthy counterbalance to our sex-phobic culture,” he told HuffPost. “Their existence is healthy and [liberating], and I don’t support any campaign or organization trying to shame or anthologize this healthy act.”
Donaghue said the health effects of masturbation includes strengthening pelvic floor muscles, improving erectile and heart health, and reducing prostate cancer risk.
“But more important are the psychological benefits of less body shame, more sexual confidence and helping couples with varying sexual desire levels,” he said.
However, a urologist in Orlando, Florida, Dr. Jamin Brahmbhatt, said there is some evidence to supporting the notion of No Nut November.
“Refraining from ejaculation via sex or masturbation is more an exercise in mind control,” Brahmbhatt told HuffPost. “The time and energy you may be committing to your next Tinder date or watching porn is shifted to your other daily tasks or life goals.”
He added that he believes porn addiction is a real phenomenon and does affect men.
“I have several men with this problem that we work on slowly to ween them off and get them back to the realities of sex and masturbation.”