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If you’ve ever wondered if you can masturbate too much, you’re not alone. Many men have struggled over the years with a healthy balance in how they handle themselves — or rather, how often.
The internet (and internet pornography) have drastically changed the way our society functions, and for some men, the endless supply of media can lead to some behavior patterns and habits that might feel a little shameful.
Worse, it may even tempt them to replace real relationships with frequent masturbation.
But just because something feels wrong doesn’t mean it’s harming you, and while “porn addiction” may be a cause for concern, the messy space between frequent masturbation and negative health consequences is murky, at best.
NoFap is a movement — a group of people convinced that there’s a correlation between controlling those baser browser instincts and unlocking new levels of healthy bodily function.
The NoFap movement alleges masturbating less can improve your health, your memory and your cognitive performance, and may also help you in the bedroom.
Are they right? It depends on who you ask.
The NoFap movement is arguably a modern rebrand of age-old perceptions about masturbation tied up in the world of abstinence, but with a twist. the NoFap movement is actually a combination of two simple principles:
That abstention from masturbation is good for your health
That internet pornography is bad for your health.
Put the two together in a Reddit subgroup, and you get NoFap.
Various “challenges” exist within the NoFap movement. “No Fap November” is an annual 30-day reset — a group challenge to avoid porn, masturbation and the combination of the two for 30 days. It’s familiar in its framework: everyone from the writers of Seinfeld to the masterminds behind Lent considered this reset concept.
NoFap also has a 90-day “reboot” challenge that holds members to a promise not to orgasm, masturbate, or look at porn for, you guessed it, 90 days — with all the aforementioned benefits being the reward in both cases.
Unfortunately, NoFap’s promise isn’t medically backed, and while science has acknowledged some problems with excessive pornography, experts have come up short of proving excessive porn or masturbation as physiological causes of premature ejaculation.
It's certainly not the most unusual treatment you may have heard of; premature ejaculation hypnosis, anyone?
Can NoFap help you with premature ejaculation? There are wo answers to this question: the abstinence-masturbation question, and the pornography addiction question. Let’s look at both questions independent of the NoFap movement.
With regards to the abstinence question, there is no real evidence suggesting any sort of link between health benefits and abstinence, and that includes a study from 2016 in which people examined the link between PE and response to nerve tests.
Likewise, the other side of NoFap’s argument leaves a lot to be desired in the way of evidence.
Generally speaking, there’s not a lot of correlation between premature ejaculation and the use of internet pornography.
What does exist is a negative mental correlation between people who think they have a porn addiction or have masturbated too much and sexual dysfunction.
While porn or masturbation in excess may not cause problems, feeling guilty about it may.
Scientific studies show that even in self-perceived cases of porn addiction, there’s no evidence of a correlation between the two conditions. Instead, there’s a correlation between people who think they have a porn addiction and the occurrence of sexual dysfunction.
The authors of the study in question did recommend that mental health professionals consider that self-perception as a contributing factor to sexual dysfunction, but the case for addiction as a cause wasn’t established.
But experts are more concerned about how you feel about your porn and spank habit than how “bad” that bad habit is. The fact is, from what we know, those self-perceptions might be doing more harm to your bedroom performance than the contents of your browser history.
We just don’t know for sure.
Still want to learn more about the benefits of not ejaculating for 7 days? Check out our other article.
What we do know is that if you do have premature ejaculation, treatment with a reset or some sort of 30-day challenge isn’t what experts recommend, nor is it what studies show works.
Physical techniques have so-so science behind them, and medication-free options like the start-stop technique are really a question of willpower in intimate situations.
Kegel exercises may improve your pelvic floor muscles’ stamina and give you some degree of orgasmic control, thereby helping you address ongoing premature ejaculation symptoms. You can Kegel away, but science isn’t exactly sure how many you need to do — or how often you need to do them — to get desired results.
There’s also the squeeze technique: a physical PE treatment in which you stop in the middle of sexual activity, gently squeeze the tip of your penis until your arousal level is decreased and then get back to business with your sexual partners.
Research shows it can work, but we’d recommend talking to your partner before trying it, just so nobody’s confused.
If PE is indeed the problem, there are several options on the table for you to consider. We’ve outlined them in more detail in our guide to Premature Ejaculation Causes and Treatments, but here are the tl;dr facts.
The most efficient way to address PE might be with benzocaine wipes.
Benzocaine wipes have the same active ingredient as some dental numbing medications, and when used as directed, they can be effective in improving your performance and satisfaction (and your partner’s).
A final and more serious option may be the use of antidepressants. Normally used to treat depression, these medications include “delayed ejaculation” as a side effect. Consequently, they’re sometimes prescribed off-label to treat premature ejaculation in some patients.
If you’re considering joining the NoFap movement because you think that excessive masturbation is affecting your daily life, we’re not here to talk you out of it.
The impact of masturbation on you may play a huge role in your perception of masturbation health, and it may be a great way to get support from a community for people who want to make changes to their intimate habits through self control practices.
But there’s some better advice we can give you than creating a burner account and talking to a million other dudes about the urge to masturbate: talk to one healthcare provider.
A single conversation with a healthcare provider about your symptoms of premature ejaculation and feelings about your masturbation habits may lead to better treatment, as a healthcare professional can help you understand the individual causes of your own issues.
Premature ejaculation doesn’t happen the same for everyone, and your treatment shouldn’t be left to the majority rule of an amateur internet community.
If you’re ready to get the help you need, we offer online counseling for you to talk to someone today. Still trying to learn more about premature ejaculation? Check out our guide to premature ejaculation causes, symptoms and treatment options to learn more.
Dr. Angela Sheddan has been a Family Nurse Practitioner since 2005, practicing in community, urgent and retail health capacities. She has also worked in an operational capacity as an educator for clinical operations for retail clinics.
She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, her master’s from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, and her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. You can find Angela on LinkedIn for more information.