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Type of site
Available inEnglish
LaunchedJune 20, 2011; 13 years ago (2011-06-20) (subreddit)
Current statusActive

NoFap is a website and community forum that serves as a support group for those who wish to give up pornography and masturbation.[1][2][3] Its name comes from the slang term fap, referring to male masturbation.[4][5] While reasons for this abstinence vary by individual, the main motivation cited is attempting to overcome addiction to pornography,[a][6][7] or other compulsive sexual behaviours.[8][9] Other reasons for abstinence include religious and moral reasons, self-improvement, and physical beliefs that are not supported by medicine.[10][11][12]

The group's views and efforts to combat pornography addiction have been criticized as simplistic,[12] outdated, and incorrect by neuroscientists, psychologists, and other medical professionals.[11][13][14] The purported science behind the group's activities is said to come from anti-porn activist Gary Wilson,[15][16] "an Oregon man with no scientific training or background, who has made a career peddling pseudoscience."[17]

As of January 6, 2024, the NoFap online community had more than 350,000 registered members.[18]


NoFap was founded in June 2011 by Pittsburgh web developer Alexander Rhodes after reading a thread on Reddit about a 2003 study,[5][19] (which was retracted in 2021 due to overlap with another published article in Chinese),[20] which claimed that men who refrain from masturbation for seven days experience a 145.7% spike in testosterone levels on the seventh day. This hit the front page of a popular forum on Reddit.[5] The website states that some NoFap participants aim to "improve their interpersonal relationships", do a "challenge of willpower – to seize control of your sexuality and turn it into superpowers", but always with the goal of being able to "abstain from PMO (porn/masturbation/orgasm)."[5] The expression fap is an onomatopoeic Internet slang term for male masturbation that first appeared in the 1999 web comic Sexy Losers to indicate the sound of a male character masturbating.[5]

While the website is most commonly associated with men seeking to quit porn and reduce masturbation, there are a minority of females who are users of the website as well, who are nicknamed "Femstronauts"; Alexander Rhodes has estimated that five percent of participants are women.[5] Rhodes appears in the documentary written and directed by Nicholas Tana called Sticky: A (Self) Love Story, in which he discusses his findings and his opinions about masturbation.[21] After this, Rhodes created NoFap as a subreddit forum community on Reddit. The endeavour is sometimes referred to as "fapstinence".[22][23]


Users on NoFap's subreddit more than tripled in number in two years, leading Rhodes to build an off-Reddit forum at NoFap.com.[24] NoFap.com is the sister website of the Reddit-hosted NoFap community.[25]



A 2014 internet survey found that 99% of NoFap followers are male,[26][unreliable source?][11] although Rhodes said that women are also a part of NoFap.[27] The membership of NoFap ranges from atheists, like founder Rhodes, to fundamentalist Christians.[27][28] However, Rhodes has publicly solicited and received funding from religious groups.[17] The users of the website call themselves "Fapstronauts."[29][30][5] Some correspondents have nicknamed NoFap's community members "NoFappers",[31][29] "fapstinent",[32] or "no-fappers".[33] Some self-described porn addicts seek out NoFap for help, while others join the website for the challenge or to improve their lives and interpersonal relationships.[5]


The advocacy of NoFap can be summarized as "90 days of abstinence from porn, masturbation, and orgasms."[11] A study of anti-porn attitudes among Polish Internet users found that "Despite the suggestive name, the official goal of the NoFap movement is not to encourage complete abstinence from masturbation, but to support internet users in the process of refraining from accessing pornographic materials and achieving various wellbeing goals related to sexual health",[34] and this understanding of NoFap's mission is also acknowledged by other critical sources.[11] After abstaining from porn and masturbation for a period of time, some of NoFap's users claim to experience various improvements in physical and mental health.[22] Some NoFap users say their brains were warped by porn, at the expense of real relationships.[32]

NoFap hosts a wide variety of different opinions on sexual health, and supports users with various goals as long as they are trying to improve their sexual health.[35]

Some of the group's beliefs cite the work of Gary Wilson, an anti-pornography activist who has no medical or scientific training. Wilson's work is pseudoscientific.[17]

Political and religious motivation

According to various sources, the overwhelming majority of all websites and YouTube channels devoted to anti-masturbation and anti-porn addiction propaganda, channels, and websites supporting NoFap are owned by far-right, religious fundamentalists, and conservatives who are biblical inerrantists, and also are entirely political in nature.[4][36] The NoFap community is sometimes viewed to be a part of the manosphere – online groups credited with propagating misogyny.[37][38]

Psychologists, MDs, and social scientists noticed that the traditional Christian obsession with combating sexual activities, including masturbation,[39][40][41][42][43] is unhealthy and unwholesome. This also applies to secular advocacy of anti-pornography and anti-masturbation,[44][45] including 16 US states' legislatures which have declared that pornography is a "public health crisis".[44][46]

The American Psychiatric Association had by then already dismissed such moral panic ("political stunt")[44] in DSM-5 (published in 2013),[6] and DSM-5-TR, published in March 2022, does not recognize a diagnosis of sexual addiction (which would include internet pornography viewing).[47][48][49][50] Neither ICD-10, nor ICD-11 recognize sex addiction or porn addiction as a valid diagnosis.[47][50]


Therapist Paula Hall for The Huffington Post was asked about NoFap claims of "physical health benefits mentioned including renewed energy, greater focus, concentration, and better sleep" and responded "there is little medical evidence for any of these changes".[14] Therapist Robert Weiss for The Huffington Post sees NoFap as part of a tech backlash.[51] The endeavor has also been criticized as generating embarrassing side effects such as prolonged or unwanted erections in men or an excessive libido.[52] Psychologist David J. Ley wrote: "I'm not in opposition to them, but I do think their ideas are simplistic, naive and promote a sad, reductionistic and distorted view of male sexuality and masculinity".[12] Ley criticizes NoFap supporters as amateurs who are using "bad data" and "extrapolations on weak science to argue that porn has a disproportionate effect on the brain" and claim that porn use causes erectile dysfunction.[12] Ley has stated that the website is a continuation of the anti-masturbation movements from the past, such as Swiss doctor Samuel Tissot's 18th-century claims that masturbation was an illness that "weakened the male spirit" and led to immorality; American doctor Benjamin Rush, who claimed that masturbation caused blindness; and W.K. Kellogg, who developed corn flakes as part of his anti-masturbation efforts.[12]

Research concerning NoFap forums and followers

NoFap appears to oppose science. Their website includes legal warnings that scientists are prohibited from conducting research on them, and they have threatened to sue scientists who do.[34]

A 2021 qualitative study found that NoFap's approach to pornography appears to be harmful. Specifically, the scientists studied "members of the online NoFap/PornFree self-help communities" and concluded "commitment to abstinence, framed by the notions of recovery and relapse, was found to be a major factor for maintaining distress."[53] A 2021 research article concluded with a warning, saying that "the mythical articulations that emerge from contestations over concepts like NoFap have the potential to galvanize young men into horrific, real-world violence."[4]

A 2020 study found that while NoFap claimed to be science-based, the more that NoFap followers believed that they should abstain from masturbation, the more they also reported "lower trust in science".[11] Social psychologists Taylor and Jackson, who analyzed the content of NoFap forums, concluded in their study that some NoFap participants not only rejected pornography, but also radical feminist critiques of pornography. They also stated that members of NoFap frequently utilized and redeployed familiar hegemonic masculine views (e.g. men as dominant seekers of pleasure and women as the 'natural' suppliers of this pleasure), in turn reproducing societal expectations of gendered sexual dominance and submission.[32] Another 2020 study stated that the forum represents itself as a source of medical information, which seems to discourage members from seeking actual medical advice and instead self-diagnosing.[54]

A 2020 study analysing discourse on pornography, published in the journal Social Forces, stated regarding NoFap: "These claims do not necessarily come from scientific experts. Instead, we find that newspaper articles draw from a variety of professionals who are not scientists" and that "Rhodes is quoted repeatedly reflecting that he was 'addicted to internet porn' and shares the personal consequences." They conclude "journalists and political actors are overextending scientific findings to advance their media markets and political agendas" in support of gender and sexual norms.[55]

A 2020 paper stated that NoFap appears to have been specifically targeted by far-right groups, writing, "the struggle for the 'remasculinization' of white men by overcoming porn (addiction) had to be an antisemitic one: a fight against 'Jewish pornography' and 'Jewish filth,' in which other current anti-porn actors such as NoFap should join".[56] Cultural studies scholar Simon Strick stated regarding NoFap that a "racist culture war...was already implied in the call to join the 'movement' by becoming abstinent". The chapter continues, "NoFap present themselves as a search for non-toxic and progressive gender roles, even as they partake in gendered and racialized narratives that are no less violent".[57] A paper in 2021 which analysed a large corpus of Tweets about NoFap found subject positions linked to myths including anti-feminist and anti-Semitic themes.[58]

NoFap supporters are "known for vitriolically attacking female scholars not sharing their view".[59] Sociologist Kelsy Burke stated that "Rhodes and a small staff manage NoFap.com and its brand full time".[60] She states, "There is no scientific evidence that supports the idea of these superpowers. Yet hundreds of thousands of NoFap users insist they experience them." She critiques similar gender problems in groups including NoFap, stating, "The scientific and spiritual gets muddled together as participants reinforce damaging gender stereotypes—those of hypersexual, biologically ravenous men who are simply "wired differently" than women. Women whose sexuality exists only in relation to male desire...porn addiction recovery reproduces the worst lessons of porn itself."[60] NoFap forums are described by a 2020 paper as a place where "men's sexual entitlement to women was left unquestioned".[61]

Claims of the semen retention community as well as those of the NoFap community are among the least accurate in respect to men's health.[62]

The medical orthodoxy attributes the sufferance of NoFap users to various mental disorders, rather than caused by PMO (porn, masturbation, orgasm).[63][50] Prause and Binnie note that the NoFap forums are overloaded with conspiracy theories seeking to explain this away.[50]

Journalistic descriptions of NoFap

Several journalists have criticized NoFap.[64][65][66][67] Some of them report that the forums were filled with misogyny, stating that "there is a darker side to NoFap. Among the reams of Reddit discussions and YouTube videos, a fundamentally misogynistic rhetoric regularly emerges",[66] and that "the NoFap community has become linked to wider sexism and misogyny, reducing women to sexual objects to be attained or abstained from and shaming sexually active women."[67] NoFap followers have posted videos on YouTube that regularly feature anti-homosexual and anti-woman values, such as "stop being a little bitch" demands.[68] A New York Times story by Rob Kuznia expressed concern about white supremacists promoting the belief that pornography is a conspiracy of Judaism.[69] Scientist Shane Kraus, PhD, speaking to CNET describes there is "no scholarship" supporting the Reboot claims of NoFap.[70]

Der Spiegel reported that some NoFap adherents also belong to groups with members who have been connected to hate crimes and terrorist murders, arguing that there is a general potential for radicalization within the manosphere.[71]

NPR published an article that the NoFap forum is rife with racist, misogynistic and violent posts.[16]


NoFap has been involved in legal actions filed or threatened by its founder, Alexander Rhodes. After threatening two scientists with litigation, the scientists published a letter defending the need to be allowed to criticize NoFap: "As [NoFap] operate in the public sphere, however, we deem it not only as legitimate but necessary to acknowledge and cite them as one prominent voice in the debate around masturbation abstinence—everything else would be an unjustifiable muting of their stand."[72] NoFap threatened to sue The Spectator for writing about their association with right-wing, antisemitic groups.[73]

Similar sites

In 2017, an Independent article called "Inside the Community of Men Who Have Given Up Porn" noted that an alternative subreddit, /r/pornfree, is different from 'NoFap' as members abstain from pornography but not necessarily masturbation.[74] Another Independent article, from 2018, described /r/pornfree as less 'extreme' compared to /r/nofap.[75]

A study of NoFap reddit users found that NoFap members were most likely to also be members of TheRedPill, seduction, and similar men's rights and pick up artist Reddit groups.[76] Another study reported a similar pattern that NoFap Reddit members also were likely to be supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump.[77]

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ Though the term 'addiction' is frequently used, a pornography addiction is not an addiction in the true sense of a brain disorder, and is instead more congruent with a behavioral addiction. Addiction to pornography is not recognised as a legitimate medical diagnosis.


  1. ^ Cowell, Tom (September 17, 2013). "No fapping, please, it's making us ill". The Telegraph. London, England: Telegraph Media Group. Archived from the original on June 10, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2015. So why are men doing it, and what happens when they do? 'Why' can be answered two ways: some see a medical problem in chronic masturbation, others a spiritual one.
  2. ^ McMahon, Tamsin (January 20, 2014). "Will quitting porn improve your life?: A growing 'NoFap' movement of young men are saying no to porn and masturbation". Maclean's. Toronto, Canada: Rogers Media. Archived from the original on May 2, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2015. Despite the evangelical tone, NoFap is fundamentally different from traditional campaigns that view masturbation as an assault on religious values. Instead, it is developing as a secular movement popular among young men, many of whom identify as liberal and atheist. The majority of NoFap members are men in their teens and early 20s, though there are women, too, says Alexander Rhodes, the 23-year-old web developer from Pittsburgh who founded the movement two years ago. He estimates about 60 per cent are atheists; the site is also home to a fair number of Christians and some Muslims, all in broad agreement that porn is harmful.
  3. ^ Imhoff, Roland; Zimmer, Felix (April 30, 2020). "Men's Reasons to Abstain from Masturbation May Not Reflect the Conviction of 'reboot' Websites". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 49 (5): 1429–1430. doi:10.1007/s10508-020-01722-x. ISSN 0004-0002. PMC 7300076. PMID 32356083. We recently published a paper titled 'Abstinence from Masturbation and Hypersexuality' (Zimmer & Imhoff, 2020) in which we tried to explore correlates of men's motivation to stay abstinent from masturbation. In motivating the study, we pointed to existing discourses around the topic and cited different protagonists within this debate (e.g., the Web sites 'nofap.org' and 'rebootnation.org').
  4. ^ a b c Burnett, Scott (May 2021). Barber, Kristen; Bridges, Tristan; Nelson, Joseph Derrick (eds.). "The Battle for 'NoFap': Myths, Masculinity, and the Meaning of Masturbation Abstention". Men and Masculinities. 25 (3). SAGE Publications: 477–496. doi:10.1177/1097184X211018256. ISSN 1552-6828. LCCN 98659253. OCLC 321242407. S2CID 236603234.
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  9. ^ "NoFap Website". NoFap. Second line (after slogan). Retrieved May 16, 2021. NoFap™ is a secular community-centered sexual health platform designed to help you overcome porn addiction, porn overuse, and compulsive sexual behavior. We're here to help you quit or reduce porn use, improve your relationships, and reach your sexual health goals.
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  48. ^ American Psychiatric Association (2022). "Conditions for Further Study". Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR(tm)). G - Reference, Information and Interdisciplinary Subjects Series. American Psychiatric Association Publishing. p. 916. ISBN 978-0-89042-576-3. Excessive use of the Internet not involving playing of online games (e.g., excessive use of social media, such as Facebook; viewing pornography online) is not considered analogous to Internet gaming disorder, and future research on other excessive uses of the Internet would need to follow similar guidelines as suggested herein. Excessive gambling online may qualify for a separate diagnosis of gambling disorder.
  49. ^ American Psychiatric Association (2022). "Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders". Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR(tm)). G - Reference, Information and Interdisciplinary Subjects Series. American Psychiatric Association Publishing. p. 543. ISBN 978-0-89042-576-3. In addition to the substance-related disorders, this chapter also includes gambling disorder, reflecting evidence that gambling behaviors activate reward systems similar to those activated by drugs of abuse and that produce some behavioral symptoms that appear comparable to those produced by the substance use disorders. Other excessive behavioral patterns, such as Internet gaming (see 'Conditions for Further Study'), have also been described, but the research on these and other behavioral syndromes is less clear. Thus, groups of repetitive behaviors, sometimes termed "behavioral addictions" (with subcategories such as 'sex addiction,' 'exercise addiction,' and 'shopping addiction'), are not included because there is insufficient peer-reviewed evidence to establish the diagnostic criteria and course descriptions needed to identify these behaviors as mental disorders.
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