Mo' Nut November: Regular Release Is Healthy
First, we're not here to tell you not to participate in No Nut November, the annual Reddit-driven challenge that dares participants to refrain from ejaculation for the entirety of the month. Heck, 115,000 people are part of the subreddit. We're just advising you to give second thought to the perceived health benefits (often pushed by a crowd that discourages masturbation at any time) that lack any scientific backing.
Is there anything wrong with not ejaculating or having an orgasm for a whole month? Probably not. In fact, if you're a fan of funny, irreverent, inappropriate memes, a lot of good comes from No Nut November (NNN). But is there any real health benefit to it? Not really, despite what a decidedly small percentage of the no-nut crowd extols. Quite contrarily, the act of regular ejaculation confers plenty of health benefits.
It's within the NNN rules to engage in intercourse, oral sex and even masturbation during November, but participants aren't supposed to complete the act. Many of the memes on the NNN subreddit mention edging, the act of stimulation to the very edge of orgasm before holding back. Edgers are warriors in the NNN clique—until, you know, they aren't.
Talk about blue balls, though. Yes, they exist. No, they don't turn blue. Here's what happens, according to California urologist Judson Brandeis, M.D.: The sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rapid, involuntary responses, discharges during orgasm and causes the blood vessels of the penis and scrotum to constrict or narrow. It is this constriction of the vessels that reduces blood flow to the area and allows everything to return to normal post-ejaculation, said Luke Pratsides, the lead general practitioner at Numan, a London-based digital healthcare provider for men.
In the absence of climax, however, the genitals remain full of excess blood flow. Without release, the blood vessels around the testicles remain enlarged, causing them to increase in size, become heavy and lead to discomfort, Pratsides said. Together, these effects contribute to the telltale ache of "blue balls."
Is it dangerous? Nah, but it's aggravating, to both mind and body.
Through the years, various studies have suggested ejaculation has prostate-cancer-fighting prowess, though other studies aren't so sure.
Researchers from Harvard released a study in 2006 suggesting that men who ejaculate at least 21 times a month are less likely, by at least 20 percent, to develop prostate cancer. Ten years later, after their findings underwent rigorous debate, the researchers went back to the lab to incorporate an additional decade of follow-up data into the original analysis.
Guess what? They still claim more ejaculation is better: "We found that men reporting higher compared to lower ejaculatory frequency in adulthood were less likely to be subsequently diagnosed with prostate cancer," they concluded.
An Australian study from 2003 stated, "Ejaculatory frequency, especially in early adult life, is negatively associated with the risk of prostate cancer."
In 2008, University of Cambridge researchers found an association between more frequent masturbation and lower prostate cancer risk, but for men age 50 and older, not for men in their 20s and 30s. They don't know why, and the necessary research to fill in those holes is underway.
Just keep swimming
One fringe claim is that prolonged abstinence—no ejaculation for months on end—increases male fertility, specifically sperm motility, or their ability to move. To a very limited degree, this claim has some merit.
The World Health Organization recommends a two- to seven-day period of abstinence before a man gives a sperm sample to be used for testing or fertility treatments. Any time beyond that yields no further positive semen parameters.
However, other studies have found even this time period to be unnecessarily long. One study of subfertile Indian men of Tamil origin suggests, "In both normozoospermic (fertile) and oligozoospermic (subfertile) men, semen parameters associated with an abstinence of less than 24 hours were found to be noninferior as compared to longer ejaculatory abstinence intervals."
But is there any real health benefit to it? Not really, despite what a decidedly small percentage of the no-nut crowd extols. Quite contrarily, the act of regular ejaculation confers plenty of health benefits.
For other sperm parameters, such as morphology (shape) and volume, the abstinence argument falls apart further. A study published in 2007 in the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy suggested that regular ejaculations keep sperm morphology and semen volume within normal ranges while leukocyte numbers are increased. Leukocytes are white blood cells that fight infections.
So keeping up with your orgasms makes for better sperm health and infection-fighting properties. Nice.
Oddly, despite the stereotype of people falling asleep almost immediately after orgasm, proponents of abstaining from ejaculation list better sleep as a positive side effect. A team of researchers in Australia, however, would like a word.
Scientists at Central Queensland University conducted a sex and sleep survey among men and women, the results of which were published in 2019 in Frontiers in Public Health. They found participants perceived their sleep to be better due to orgasms, whether partnered or alone, though sex with a partner had a stronger perceived effect.
"A higher percentage of participants overall felt that their sleep quality (70.8 percent) and sleep onset (62.5 percent) improved after achieving orgasm with a partner before bed," the team wrote. Masturbation with ejaculation showed a lower but still significant percentage, with 54.1 percent of participants reporting improved sleep quality.
It never hurts to get your Os before you catch some Zs.
Other potential benefits of regular ejaculations include healthy relationships, lower blood pressure and reduced stress.
Look, human beings are constantly challenging themselves in one way or another, and if men in one corner of the internet decide not to nut for a month, nobody should stop them. Maybe the follow-up challenge, Destroy Dick December—you nut one time Dec. 1, two times Dec. 2, 22 times Dec. 22 and so on—makes up for the missing ejaculations in November, but importantly, it's regular release that's good for you.