Masturbation abstinence is popular online. Doctors and therapists are worried

NPR – More than two decades of growing internet use has surfaced fears about the social and psychological impacts of nearly unfettered access to pornography.

But many researchers and sex therapists worry that the online communities that have formed in response to these fears often endorse inaccurate medical information, exacerbate mental health problems and, in some cases, overlap with extremist and hate groups.

There are many variations on how and why members of these communities choose to abstain from masturbation. One of the central concepts in these communities is known as “nofap,” a play on an onomatopoeic word for masturbation popularized on the notorious 4chan message boards.

The term “nofap” has come to encompass a set of unproven claims that not masturbating confers social and health benefits.

There’s a large and active forum on Reddit that uses the name, as well as a company called NoFap LLC, which offers support groups for a fee and runs a popular forum on its website.

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But that company is just one part of a far larger community. Others, including self-styled coaches, also use the term. They offer advice, services and sometimes treatment programs to those struggling to reach their goal of not masturbating.

While some figures in this space are religious, most frame their advice as science-based forms of self-improvement or as a cure for pornography addiction, a popular concept that’s disputed by scientists and researchers who study sexuality …

“I have seen claims on social media saying that semen retention can boost your testosterone levels, cure erectile dysfunction, make you more manly, make you stronger, cure depression, make you more successful, clear your skin,” says Ashley Winter, a urologist who has been publicly critical of nofap ideas.

“And there is no medical evidence that it does any of those things,” she says, adding that in many male adults, abstaining from ejaculation will merely result in “nocturnal emissions,” or wet dreams …


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