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Fapstinence or NoFap is a dating strategy used by "low-T" (short for low-testosterone) and love-shy men on the inceldom spectrum that consists of avoiding masturbation and pornography consumption. Fapstinents make essentially pseudo-scientific arguments that abstaining from masturbation will increase their T levels and increase their confidence and, consequently, their ability to do cold approach or warm approach women.

Many of them also believe that women are directly attracted by the greater "animal magnetism" that high-T men apparently exude, essentially making materialist, secular, and empirical arguments for celibacy of different degrees, based on very preliminary research that they misinterpret to support their beliefs. This secular approach may be one reason why no-fap has taken off where traditional religious admonitions against "sins of the flesh" have failed. Some nofappers also appear to believe this T increase would positively affect their muscle or bones in a noticeable way, i.e., they are using it as a looksmaxxing technique.

Some fapstainers take a less materialistic approach, stepping overtly in the realm of "woo" and adopting the practices and beliefs surrounding the dissipation of "sexual energy" advocated by certain Eastern religions and mysticisms, such as Chinese tantra and the Dharmic practice of brachmacharya (total celibacy of body and mind). People in both groups think this practice will help them eventually deincelize, or increase their sexual potency in cases where the advocates are non-cels. There are also links to the large and growing anti-porn movement, whose advocates are primarily focused on nofap as a method of curing porn addiction.

Many have noted that NoFap forums appear to have a large overlap with incel forums in terms of overall themes and characteristics of the forum users.

NoFap and inceldom[edit | edit source]

NoFap would not appear to be an effective intervention to cure inceldom, in the vast majority of cases, at least, because

  1. testosterone levels have very little to do with mating success in men[1] (assuming abstention has any major effect on T levels, which it doesn't)
  2. some research has indicted a positive linear relationship between porn use frequency in males and their odds of being in a relationship (and thus the majority of men are not substantially limited in attaining relationships owing to their porn use).[2]

In the US's long-running General Social Survey (GSS), pornography non-use was a significant predictor of sexlessness in the years 2000-2018, suggesting that abstention from pornography is generally associated with a lower sex drive, voluntarily celibacy, and perhaps a slower life history speed.[3]

Lack of scientific evidence[edit | edit source]

The hype around fapstinence appears to have gained impetus from a 2011 Reddit post to /r/TIL about a single Chinese study claiming fapstinence would boost T levels.[4][5] This study was, however, based on a tiny sample and other results are demonstrating an increase in T levels following masturbation.[6] It is possible that masturbation causes a small spike in testosterone release (seemingly associated with sexual arousal in general),[7] but that abstaining from masturbation can also weakly boost testosterone, possibly as an adaption to increase mating drive as testosterone does increase libido. This explanation, however, is unlikely to be sufficient to explain this T boost as even the administration of reasonably large amounts of exogenous testosterone (roughly equivalent to 4x the amount of testosterone most men produce naturally, disregarding differences in individual metabolism of exogenous T) only moderately increases libido in most males.[8]

The short-term boost in testosterone in this study, moreover, if replicable, was likely so small and of such a short duration that it would play no practical role in driving differences in behavior, sexual drive, or physiological changes. Hormone studies have discovered it seems to generally require both large,[9] and possibly chronic[10] doses of testosterone to drive even modest behavioral changes in test subjects.

Another line of research no-fappers often point to as evidence of the claim that "no-fap increases T" are rodent studies that find that ejaculation is associated with a short-term reduction in androgen receptor (AR) density in certain regions of the brain. At the same time, sexual abstinence seem to result in the up-regulation of androgen receptor density in the same areas of the rodent brain.[11] Thus, the argument is that an up-regulation of androgen receptor density resulting from abstinence will essentially result in a behaviorally masculinizing effect, as androgen receptors play a decisive role in mediating the effects of androgens on brain function and physiological functions, libido and so on. It is unlikely that this small increase in androgen receptor density in the brain (assuming this holds true for humans) would play much of a function in altering behavior to any large degree (especially in the absence of large changes in T levels). This neural change likely mainly serves to inhibit excess sexual activity on behalf of male mammals, as the down-regulation in receptor density was the largest among rats that were allowed to copulate ad libitum with receptive females. Thus, these rat studies likely simply prove that no-fap makes one more sexually motivated due to sexual frustration, which is pretty obvious prima facie.

The bulk of scientific research suggests masturbation is not harmful unless it is excessive or occurs in public.[12] Pornography consumption is unlikely to cause inceldom,[13] and even consumption of degenerate porn is unlikely to affect mental functioning as it is generally hard to perturb. Porn consumption is correlated with some negative life outcomes, but this is suspected to be explained by other variables rather than by porn itself.[14]

China appears to have a history of discouraging masturbation in general. In 2017, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) blamed overconsumption of fizzy drinks, computer gaming, and masturbation for the poor health of young people, and announced the rejection of army recruits that had a varicocele (an enlargement of a vein in the testicles, associated with infertility) which they attributed to excessive masturbation.[15] China's aversion to masturbation can perhaps be explained by traditional Chinese beliefs that attribute a loss of "jing" (vital energy) to men as a result of ejaculation. As a result of this belief, abstinence from masturbation and refraining from ejaculation during sex (coitus reservatus) is commonly prescribed by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as a remedy for several health issues.[16]

NoFap community[edit | edit source]

Nofappers are a subset of the manosphere entirely focused on fapstinence. These nofappers often congregate on various platforms titled NoFap. They believe that semen-retention will help with confidence levels, assertiveness, success with dating, and other behaviors associated with being high-T.

No Nut November[edit | edit source]

Another subgroup of the fapstinence effort, is the group No Nut November. The main goal of this group is to avoid ejaculating for an entire month, typically the month of November. This month was largely randomly chosen, so there is no fixed commemoration. However, it has largely the same end goal as the other major fapstinence group, NoFap, although each adherent has slight differences in its manifestations. As a counterpoint, Destroy Dick December is by some embraced to make good for the previous month of abstinence.[17]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]



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