According to Urban Dictionary, the rules are as follows:
- You cannot have sex, masturbate, or "nut" in any way, shape, or form.
- Watching pornography and having boners are both allowed, but you can’t nut.
- You are only allowed one wet dream. If you have more than one, then consider yourself out.
Where did No Nut November even come from?
The exact origin of NNN is a little unclear, but according to KnowYourMeme—the trusted encyclopedia of all things internet—it can be traced back to an Urban Dictionary entry submitted by "bicboi6969696969" on November 3, 2011, defining “No Nut November” as a challenge in which "an individual must not masturbate for the month of November.”
It's possible that the person behind bicboi6969696969 was also a member of the NoFap sub-Reddit—formed on June 20, 2011, shortly before the Urban Dictionary entry appeared—which encouraged men to give up masturbation and practice the questionable habit of "semen retention". Followers claim that not masturbating is a miracle cure that helps with a host of physical and mental problems, including fatigue, laziness, gastrointestinal issues, anxiety, depression, and more. (More on the accuracy of these claims later.) The NoFap sub-Reddit has become immensely popular, amassing over half-a-million members since its inception.
The Urban Dictionary entry for NNN was published in 2011, but the tradition didn't really gain traction until six years later. On November 1, 2017, Twitter user @I_H8THOTS tweeted: "Not even a day into No Nut November and I've already beat my meat like it owes me money.”
Even though that tweet didn’t go viral—even now, it only has 104 retweets and 162 likes—it was posted to the subreddit BlackPeopleTwitter, where it gathered upwards of 33,100 points (88% upvoted) and 1,200 comments over the next week.
From there, NNN took off. The growing coalition of NoFappers used it as a platform to push their no-nutting agenda, and to indoctrinate more men who were seeking drastic life changes to their "brotherhood."
On Nov. 4, one Redditor wrote a lengthy post describing how to get through the month. It reads like a general commanding his troops on the frontline of Normandy. The post reads almost like satire—in fact, all of NNN feels like something someone started doing ironically, but then after talking about it too long, it actually became a thing:
“There have been minimal casualties so far. But now, the 4th day into the next week, is what will separate the boys from the men. I don't care were you are, or what you're doing when the urges hit: they're going to hit HARD. And you can't wait until that moment happens to respond or you're going to fall like the rest of them after it gets worse. You have to identify your problem areas, and make WAR on them now.
"Throw any lotion in the house away and take it to the garbage can. Take the bar of soap out of the shower and toss it. Plan your day to minimize alone time, maximize productivity, and spend time at the gym. Tell yourself how you will respond to a dozen different scenarios so that they won't catch you with your pants down, literally.
This war is only just beginning, but you are not alone. Stand strong and fight like hell for your brothers and sisters beside you and your own future.”
Still, many Redditors say they feel immense shame for being unable to to control their urges to masturbate. One Redditor wrote on Nov. 4: “I couldn't go even 24 hours without fapping. I had a really, really bad day. I sifted through 10 porn videos before finding 'the one' to fap to. Wasted an hour. I fapped to 'stop feeling bad' but I ended up feeling worse.
“I'm gonna try harder this time,” the user concluded.
Others in the NNN brotherhood came to support their fallen comrade. "Focus on the smallest goal that's impossible for you to fail so that you can make it to a month," one person replied. "If a week is to much, focus on a day. If you're feeling the urge right but, focus on just getting through an hour, and if the urge is still there then focus on the next hour. The small goals lead to large goals."
Many boast of their success, like this 28-year-old man who says he hasn't jerked off in nearly two months. In a post called "The power of 'No,'" he writes about how his life has changed for the better since he quit masturbating: "I'm a different man. I'm far more confident. I'm kinder, smarter and stronger in every aspect. This thing. It's given me a clarity in my life. When shit needs done I do it. I'm working out, I'm studying. I've massively increased my social circle. I went from a loser who couldn't get a date to actively going on dates.
"Why?" he asked. "Because I've learned to say no to myself and others. I've learned to decide, not just think about what I want and what I'll stand for."
But is there any science to support the alleged benefits of No Nut November?
As Christopher Carrubba, MD, a physician and medical education consultant, previously told Men’s Health: “To date, there has been no research that I could find documenting any psychological benefit to semen retention. As such, any reported benefits are purely anecdotal and could also be the result of a placebo effect.”
Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute and author of Tell Me What You Want, notes that there are not only zero scientific benefits to not masturbating, there are actually studies that have shown health benefits to masturbating.
“There isn’t any scientific evidence that giving up masturbation (or ejaculation) will enhance your health—in fact, if anything, research suggests that there are more potential health benefits to be had by indulging in self-pleasure than by abstaining,” Lehmiller wrote. “For example, among men, frequent orgasm and ejaculation are linked not just to a lower risk of prostate cancer, but also to a longer life.”
Regardless, it seems like the army of NoFappers will continue encouraging their brothers to abstain from carnal release. And many will continue reporting positive psychological and physical benefits.
So, should you try out No Nut November?
“There are really no significant risks associated with semen retention,” Carrubba said previously. “As such, my stance would be that if you think there is a benefit, then have at it.”