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What is the NoFap Challenge and Can It Help Me With My Porn Addiction?

Dr R. Y. Langham

Jun 26, 2022

Getting rid of old habits and replacing them with healthier ones can be extremely challenging, primarily because there is no how-to-manual to show you how to do it. Fortunately, for people with porn addiction, there is a system in place to guide them toward a porn-free life. It is called the NoFap challenge.

Participating in the “NoFap Challenge” involves giving up porn for a specific amount of time with the goal of “resetting” your mind and body, so you can become a healthier version of yourself. Keep in mind, however, that your NoFap timeline will likely be unlike anyone else’s timeline because this “challenge” is based on your personal needs. But, having an overview of the various stages or phases of the “NoFap Challenge” can be extremely helpful, especially if you are trying to kick your “porn habit.”

More specifically, learning and understanding the pros and cons of the “NoFap Challenge” can empower you and help you achieve your goal of quitting porn. So, if you wondering what the “NoFap Challenge” is and how it can help with your “porn problem,” look no more because this article will provide you with an in-depth analysis of the “NoFap Challenge” and how it can help you break free of your porn addiction.

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What is NoFap?

NoFap was founded in 2011, by Alexander Rhodes, a Pittsburg native and web developer, after he read a Reddit thread about a 2003 study that found that men, who refrain from masturbating to porn for 7 days, may experience a 146% increase in testosterone by the 7th day. NoFap is primarily a community forum and support group for people, who are struggling with porn addiction – with or without masturbation.

It is also a website and subreddit. “Fap” is slang for “male masturbation,” however, NoFap is open to both males and females, who use porn and/or masturbate. So even though this forum is primarily used by men, who want to “quit” porn and “stop” masturbation, approximately 5% of its users are women porn addicts, nicknamed, “femstronauts.”

The goal of NoFap forums is to combat compulsive behavioral addictions, like porn and/or masturbation addictions. While most NoFap users come to the site for advice, guidance, or tips for porn addiction and/or masturbation, some come to it to improve their relationships, “challenge” themselves, or “test” their willpower.

NoFap encourages users to tap into their “superpower strengths” and retake control of their sexualities – while staunchly refraining from porn, masturbation, and orgasms (PMO). Critics of NoFap believe that the forums are outdated, and too simplistic or unrealistic when it comes to defeating porn addiction.

Does NoFap have a Website?

Yes, it does. NoFap.com is the website.

NoFap.com visitors have tripled in the last two years, spurring Alexander Rhodes, the founder, to create NoFap subreddit forums, where people can come to ask porn-related questions, find porn-related answers, participate in “porn recovery challenges,” and get support for their “porn habits.” NoFap.com is the sister website of the NoFap subreddit forums.

Is NoFap a “Movement?”

No, NoFap is not a “movement.”

NoFap is just a forum/website designed to help people with porn and/or masturbation addictions.

Although, some people have mistaken NoFap as a “movement” focused on a specific political, social, or moral agenda. The truth is most NoFap users visit the forum/website to improve themselves – not to “fix” all of the problems in the world. NoFap is not monolithic (or of one mind), rather, it boasts of a diverse user base.

One thing most, if not all, NoFap users share in common is that they want to abstain or forgo using porn and/or masturbating for a specific amount of time, primarily because they truly believe it will improve their lives in some way (i.e., relationships, sex life, self-esteem and self-confidence, etc.). Ultimately, users set their own “reboot” goals – with the help of NoFap resources, tools, advice, guidance, and support.

How Many NoFap Users Are Male?

According to a 2014 Reddit survey, approximately 98% of NoFap users are male, however, as referenced above, a small percentage of its users are female.

Are NoFap Forums Religious-Based?

No.

Although some critics assert that NoFap is religious-based and anti-science, that is inaccurate. Users consist of atheists, “believers,” and religious people of all races, cultures, genders, and ages. People, who visit NoFap forums tend to refer to themselves as “Fapstronauts,” “Fapstinets,” or “NoFappers.”

Is No-Fap Anti-Porn?

No…at least not directly.

Most NoFap users agree that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with viewing porn and/or masturbating. It’s only when it gets out of hand that it becomes a problem. However, for many NoFap users, a non-religious approach that does not automatically label porn and masturbation as “bad” or “immoral” is more effective at curbing “porn use” and masturbation, than a “moralistic approach” typically found on other porn addiction forums and websites.

NoFap does not promote lifelong abstinence from porn or masturbation. Instead, it encourages its users to abstain or “hold off” on using porn and/or masturbating for a predetermined amount of time. NoFap also encourages its users to use this time (abstaining from porn and masturbation) to “reboot” their brains – a concept coined by Gary Wilson.

For most porn addicts, the “rebooting” process takes about 90 days. But, even though some NoFap users abstain from porn and/or masturbating for longer periods, sometimes for the rest of their lives, most eventually return to masturbation, even if they have quit using porn. Still, NoFap aims to empower users to make choices for themselves.

Does NoFap Want Porn Legally Banned?

No, not necessarily.

NoFap does not support legislation to ban or restrict the production or consumption of porn. According to Rhodes, the founder of NoFap, the consequences and effects of porn are best addressed through sex-ed classes, rather than government interference. Thus, Rhodes believes that the “porn problem” is best remedied through education and awareness.

NoFap believes that every person has a right to forge his or her own path (make his or her own decisions). Therefore, the goal of this forum/website is to support people, who want to quit their “porn habits,” by providing them with self-help tools, like Stop Together, an online porn addiction recovery program.

What is “Rebooting” Mean?

“Rebooting,” in this case, refers to “rebooting your brain.” “Rebooting the brain” involves eliminating behavioral patterns, “bad habits,” biases, and limitations that are no longer beneficial for you. It’s almost like pressing the reset button in your mind. Rebooting can be especially beneficial if you suffer from porn addiction because it can help you stop making “bad choices” like using porn, and ultimately, reset your life.

So, ultimately, “rebooting” involves letting go of old habits (i.e., using porn) and developing new healthier habits (i.e., exercising). It also involves forming new neuropathways (habits) in the brain and triggering the pleasure part of the brain in other ways (besides using porn and/or masturbating).

Some ways to “reboot your brain” is to get proper sleep (you think more clearly when you are well-rested), adopt a healthy diet (healthy foods are chocked full of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients), regular exercise (moving around and exercising can trigger serotonin, the “feel good hormone,” that uplifts and balances your mood), listen to music, set goals, find new hobbies, spend time in nature, try something new and different, practice yoga and/or mindfulness meditation, and prioritize positive (i.e., happiness, joy, optimism, hope, satisfaction, etc.) emotions over negative ones (i.e., anger, disappointment, distress, anxiety, depression, etc.).

What is the Goal of NoFap Forums?

The overall goal of NoFap forums is to help people, who want to stop using porn and/or masturbating because of society’s perception that engaging in these two activities (using porn and masturbating) is “immoral” and “unhealthy.” Some NoFap users report that porn warped their brains, causing failed romantic relationships or damaged marriages. Many NoFap users report improvement in their mental and physical health after abstaining from porn and/or masturbation for a while.

NoFap supports a wide range of opinions on sexual health and combatting porn and/or masturbation addictions. Although Gary Wilson, an anti-porn activist, is often cited in these forums, critics assert that he has no medical training to support his beliefs on the effects of porn on the brain. A 2021 study suggests that NoFap’s approach to porn may be harmful. More specifically, researchers found that NoFap’s dedication to abstinence, recovery, and relapse could be a catalyst for chronic distress.

Another study found that NoFap creates an environment that encourages young men to become “victims” that support misogyny and racism, thereby, creating opportunities for real-world violence. And, a 2021 study found that NoFap forums misrepresent themselves as “credible medical resources,” and encourages self-diagnosing. Another 2020 study suggests that NoFap’s “claims” of helping people with porn and/or masturbation addictions are not science-based or medical-based.

What is the NoFap Challenge?

The “NoFap Challenge” is just as the name implies – a “challenge” to abstain from porn and/or masturbation for a predetermined period – to improve oneself.

Are There Any “NoFap Challenge” Rules? If So, What are They?

Believe it or not, there are no strict, hardcore rules for NoFap users, primarily because the goal of the forum/website is to encourage people to make their own choices when it comes to their porn and/or masturbation activities. NoFap supports personal choice and determination. However, NoFap does have some general guidelines when it comes to using the forum, such as abstaining from using porn and/or masturbating for a set amount of time (usually 90 days), setting goals and keeping track of your successes and failures, remaining committed to a healthier lifestyle, etc.

Some people decide to abstain from porn and/or masturbation to gain more self-control over their behaviors and lives, to boost their productivity (at home, work, or school), for inspiration, and/or to improve their romantic relationships and sex lives.

Some “porn users” and/or masturbators, who forgo porn and/or masturbation report that doing so helped to improve their relationships and sexual satisfaction in the bedroom. Rhodes believes that when a person abstains from porn and/or masturbating, it frees up time for him or her to focus on building healthy relationships, boosting his or her self-esteem and self-confidence, and being more productive at home, school, and/or work.

What are the “NoFap Challenge” Guidelines?

Listed below are general “NoFap Challenge” guidelines:

  • No porn or masturbation.
  • No “orgasming” to porn.
  • While sexual intercourse with a real-life partner is allowed, “porn use” and/or masturbation is prohibited while you are in the “challenge.”
  • No fantasizing about porn and/or masturbating while having sex with a real-life partner.
  • Not using sex to eliminate relationship, personal, work, etc. stress – sex should only be used for sexual satisfaction.
  • Participants must be “accountable” to someone, such as a friend, family member, significant other, etc., by telling this person about their progress each day.
  • Porn addiction relapses are allowed; however, the participant must start all over again if this occurs.
  • Intimacy with a real-life partner is not considered “fapping” (fapping is another term for masturbating).

How Many Phases Does the “NoFap Challenge” Have and What Are the Various Phases for Porn Addiction?

The “NoFap Challenge” involves four phases.

Phase 1

During Phase 1 you may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Porn addiction withdrawal symptoms
  • Social anxiety (i.e., especially around people you find attractive and/or sexy, people in speedos or bikinis at the beach, and/or people who are dressed in short skirts or shorts)
  • Mood fluctuations and/or a feeling of uneasiness
  • Porn addiction relapses or an impulse to return to “old bad habits” (i.e., heavy porn use)

Pros

The pros of the “NoFap Challenge” for porn addiction include:

  • A gradual increase in your energy
  • Increased satisfaction in healthy activities like exercising, spending quality time with friends and family, etc.
  • A firm determination to “quit” using porn
  • A noticeable improvement in your mental health
  • After the 7th day, a spike in your testosterone
Phase 2

During Phase 2 you may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Porn urges that may persist and/or worsen
  • An illogical belief that you since you have “kicked your porn habit,” it will never return

Pros

The pros of the “NoFap Challenge” for porn addiction include:

  • Higher self-esteem and self-confidence
  • An optimistic attitude about the future (i.e., becoming “porn-free” or staying “porn-free” indefinitely)
  • An increase in quality and productivity (i.e., performing tasks that are unrelated to porn)
  • A reduction in your social anxiety symptoms
  • Increase interest in self-care and self-improvement (i.e., a healthy diet, regular exercise, more sleep, etc.)
Phase 3

During Phase 3 you may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Highest possibility of a porn addiction relapse
  • Low energy
  • Restlessness and a feeling that you will not have a “good life”
  • Poor concentration and an inability to “get things done,” especially when the tasks involve a high level of focus

Pro

A pro of the “NoFap Challenge” for porn addiction includes:

  • Increased resiliency
Phase 4

During Phase 4 you may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • The good news is not many “challenges” occur during this stage, so it is important to keep doing what you have been doing.

Pros

Pros of the “NoFap Challenge” for porn addiction include:

  • A renewed sense of optimism and hope about the future (i.e., becoming “porn-free” and reclaiming your life)
  • A clearer mind and more focus to accomplish tasks and goals
  • More sleep (longer and better sleep)
  • Increased confidence that you can become “porn-free” and stay that way

Does the “NoFap Challenge” Actually Work?

Yes and no…

For some “porn users” and masturbators, the “NoFap Challenge” was a “blessing in disguise” that helped them quit porn for good. However, for others, it was merely a waste of time. The effectiveness of this “challenge” really does depend on you – your goals, tolerance, etc. Understand, that just like everything else in life, this activity may or may not work for you. But the only way you can determine if it will help you is if you try it. Remember, the “NoFap Challenge” is not a magic pill or “cure-all” for people with porn and/or masturbation problems. It is, however, worth a try.

Is It Hard to Stay Committed to the “NoFap Challenge?”

Yes, it can be.

Staying on course during the “NoFap Challenge” will likely not be easy and continuing to abstain from porn and/or masturbating once it is over may prove to be even more challenging. But with perseverance, dedication, effort, support, and patience, it is possible to remain porn-free long after you have mastered the “NoFap Challenge.”

But even though you complete the “challenge,” it does not mean it is time to stop being vigilant or trying. Completing the “challenge” is not just about stopping your “porn and/or masturbation use,” but about learning more about yourself.

What are the Possible Benefits of the “NoFap Challenge?”

There are many possible benefits of the “NoFap Challenge,” which is why so many “heavy porn users” or porn or masturbation addicts choose to try this “porn recovery challenge.”

Listed below are the five main benefits of the “NoFap Challenge:”

  • Enhanced mental clarity
  • Improve focus and concentration
  • Higher self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater sexual satisfaction

Are There Any Other Self-Help Tools I Can Use to Help Me With My “Porn Habit?”

Yes, there are!

Porn addiction treatments may include lifestyle changes (i.e., a healthy diet, proper sleep, regular exercise, etc.), along with journaling, investing in an online porn recovery program, natural remedies (i.e., vitamins and herbal supplements), anti-porn software blockers, CBD, porn recovery books, apps, stress-management techniques, etc. can be easily added to prescribed treatment plans or used alone.

If these self-help tools fail to produce results, you may be referred to porn addiction therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and/or exposure response prevention (ERP) therapy, along with hypnotherapy/hypnosis, and/or medications (i.e., antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds if depression or anxiety is prompting you to use porn and/or masturbate). The good news is online porn recovery programs, like Stop Together, can be used in addition to NoFap’s forums and the website. When combined, Stop Together and NoFap can help you beat your porn addiction.

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