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Study Shows The Downsides To "No Fap" And "Reboot" On Your Health

The more people engage in "NoFap", the worse their reported symptoms.

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

James is a published author with four pop-history and science books to his name. He specializes in history, strange science, and anything out of the ordinary.

Senior Staff Writer

A man holding a banana.

No fap appears to be doing more harm than good. Image credit: Olya Maximenko/

There is a community – largely on Reddit and occupied by men – dedicated to not masturbating, and helping others to not masturbate. While people in the "NoFap" community make (sketchy) claims about improvements to health, a new study has found that engagement with the community and a belief that NoFap forums helped the user is associated with increased anxiety, depression, and erectile dysfunction.

Part of the NoFap community recommends "rebooting", or "abstinence from masturbation and/or pornography to treat 'pornography addiction'," noted as an unrecognized diagnosis by the study authors. The team found through their survey that participants in the community were very unlikely to have sought other help for their perceived addiction to pornography.


The team notes that previous research found the forum to be conservative in nature, 99 percent male, and that it promotes misogyny and homophobia.

"NoFap forums were [also] described as productive targets for white supremacist recruitment," they add. "This is linked to a false conspiracy theory that Jewish persons control the pornography industry for the purpose of promoting race mixing."

Unpleasant as the environments sound, do they work? Also no. In a survey of 587 men who took part in "reboots", the team found that 28.9 percent of respondents "reported that their most recent failure to maintain/reach the Reboot abstinence goal caused them to feel suicidal".

This is particularly concerning, according to the authors, given that "reboot treatments" are often given out by untrained "coaches" in these forums," they write, "reboot coaches and communities have neither the training nor authority to respond adequately to self-harm reports."


The team likens the forums to iatrogenic illnesses (illnesses caused by medical interventions), given that the people who are more engaged with the forums reported more current depression, anxiety, and erectile problem, as well as suicidal thoughts.

"Reboot treatments are most similar to iatrogenic, anti-LGBT conversion therapies," they write. "These also shame sexual behaviors and promote suicidal ideation."

The team believes that given the rate of harm apparently caused by the intervention, no further investment should be made in developing similar programs for people who believe themselves to be addicted to pornography.

"Evaluating any treatment requires considering the spontaneous recovery rate of the problem behavior," the team writes in their discussion. "In a study that followed a large sample of randomly selected persons for 5 years, 95% of men who reported pornography concerns at baseline spontaneously recovered within 5 years."


"While some have advocated research into abstinence, continuing to spend limited research resources for clinical trials developing abstinence Reboot programs now appears wasteful, especially given the spontaneous recovery rate."

The team points out that alternative therapies aimed at reducing guilt and shame following viewing pornography in addicted patients have had better success in the health of patients.

"Reboot treatments create additional harms by leading the public away from these evidence-based treatments," they explain.

The paper was published in the journal Sexualities.


If you or someone you know is struggling, help and support are available in the US at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255. In the UK and Ireland, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. International helplines can be found at  


healthHealth and Medicinehealthhealth
  • tag
  • addiction,

  • psychology,

  • masturbation,

  • health,

  • pornography,

  • sexual health,

  • NoFap