By Simran Sethi
If you are an avid social media user, you have probably stumbled upon #NoNutNovember or #NNN on your Twitter and Instagram feeds this month. Wondering what the hashtags are about?
No Nut November (NNN) is an online challenge between men taking a month-long oath of sexual abstinence. The challenge pops up every year in November.
It involves men giving up ejaculation for 30 days, which means no sex and no masturbation for a month.
The origin of No Nut November is unclear. However, several reports suggest that it started in 2011, when an Urban Dictionary user uploaded an entry for the phrase “No Nut November”.
The user defined it as a challenge in which an individual must refrain from having sexual pleasure in November.
Internet challenges can be fascinating but it seems the "No Nut November" trend has failed to get the nod from several men. Ahmed, 43, who has been married for 16 years, is one of them.
"No Nut November doesn't mean anything to me. It's silly," he said.
— NoNutNovember (@NONUTNOVEMBER) November 1, 2019
"Such challenges are best for men who don't have anything to do in life.
"The person who started this challenge must be a loner who wanted to generate more sad people on Earth (no offence, please)."
*Raj, 27, has a similar opinion.
"It's a stupid challenge. And it is about bringing the human need to a standstill because you want to complete a challenge on the internet. This movement was always meant to be satirical, but some idiots took it too seriously. There is no reason to go all the way for a stupid challenge and one should not curb their basic instincts," he said.
However, a Reddit user said participating in NNN helped him get rid of his porn addiction.
Another Reddit user said the challenge helped him exercise self-control and increased his energy levels, allowing him to work out longer at the gym.
To get a better understanding about the impact of No Nut November on health, we spoke to sexuality coach Pallavi Barnwal.
She described NNN challenge as a "toxic trend".
"No Nut November is a pointless trend that does no good. NNC is basically a countdown that pushes men to stay long with nutting/orgasming.
“It's a toxic trend because it makes men see orgasms as a sign of weakness, which is grossly inaccurate. About the so-called health benefits of high-energy levels because of abstinence from cracking a nut, aka masturbation, there is no scientific research that supports this.
“On the contrary, there are so many benefits to masturbation including better sleep, better heart rate, reduced stress and a lot of increase in feel-good hormones."
Pallavi said NNN distorted the perception of sexual pleasure.
"They show masturbation as a release but don't talk about the pleasure that you get from enjoying your own body.
“If you look at posts, comments on Reddit or other social media forums, they show masturbation as something weak men fall for and the ones who don't follow NNN, lack self-control and are not real men.
“If one develops such negative attitude towards sexual pleasure, it can lead to poor sexual health later in life."
Nandini Bhardwaj, a clinical psychologist, agreed with Pallavi.
"There's no proper scientific data that highlights benefits to this challenge. All current research in this area is co-relational.
“The challenge may be tied to the belief that sexual abstinence before a sporting competition aids performance. It may also be based on the theory that semen retention is linked to an increase in testosterone and male virility," said Nandini, who is also a founder of e-clinic Wellnesque.
Nandini, however, acknowledged that the NNN challenge could be beneficial for couples who were struggling with infertility.
"Temporarily abstaining can help in more sperm count, recommended for couples struggling with infertility. Sperm parameters do increase when you have a little delayed time between ejaculations.
"It may also be beneficial for people who are consuming excessive pornography, thereby desensitising themselves to 'normal' sexual behaviours."
Pallavi and Nandini said that depriving oneself of sexual pleasure for a month in order to prove self-control was not a smart move as it had side effects.
"It is seen for men who are having infertility issues to temporarily refrain from ejaculation to increase sperm count. But a month-long challenge is not a scientifically verified habit.
“This whole talk of semen retention is crap! Even though you decide to spend a month following this challenge, your body is producing sperm and thus needs a way to get rid of excess sperms from time to time.
"Holding it for longer time will only make the area swollen. If you intentionally don't' masturbate for long periods, you can tense the muscles in your pelvic floor, causing pain and discomfort in your pelvic floor, testicles, excessive urination and constipation.
“'Blue balls’ happens when a man is aroused for a long time without orgasm. The testicles ache after being aroused for too long without ejaculation," Pallavi said.
The NNN challenge was harmful for mental health, Pallavi said.
"There is a lot of teasing and taunting that goes on during the challenge, some of them I have had personally on my social account where men said a sexy picture of mine was breaking their resolve of #nnn .
“You see such notions are only misogynist and can severely impact relationships of heterosexual men where they think all it takes is a #nnn, aka semen retention, to boost a man's virility, and masculinity.
"Also demonstrating self-control over one's impulses is a very outdated puritanical construct, that you should enjoy less or you should feel guilty. In fact, I have seen in forums that thousands of men diligently document their day-by-day progress and setbacks and someone who doesn't hold up to the rules is seen as a fallen member.
“That leads to lot of self-blaming for men who participate in the challenge to see it as an ultimate form of proving their masculinity and failing to see how shallow it is," she added.
* Real name withheld
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