The Science and Potential Harms of No Nut November: A Urologist’s Perspective

In this video, Dr. Rena Malik, a urologist and pelvic surgeon, discusses the practice of No Nut November or semen retention. She explains that No Nut November is a month-long practice of avoiding ejaculation, which is different from abstaining from certain types of sexual activities as promoted by the NoFap community. Dr. Malik mentions that ancient Taoist literature discussed semen retention as a way to improve self-control, but she questions whether this practice is supported by scientific evidence and if it may potentially harm individuals. She discusses the limited data on the subject and highlights potential benefits such as increased mental clarity and improved sperm quality. However, she also raises concerns about fixation, stress, discomfort, and pain that some individuals may experience during semen retention. Dr. Malik suggests that a healthier alternative could be avoiding pornography rather than abstaining from ejaculation.

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Key Insights:

  • No Nut November is a practice of abstaining from ejaculation for the entire month of November.
  • No Nut November should not be confused with NoFap, which is a community and resource for those dealing with porn addiction.
  • The concept of semen retention has been around for a long time, with ancient Taoist literature discussing it as a means of self-control.
  • Proponents of semen retention claim benefits such as increased mental clarity, improved concentration, higher quality sperm, increased testosterone, and better relationships.
  • A small study found that a period of 21 days of abstinence did not affect the physiological changes associated with arousal and orgasm, but participants reported better sexual arousal and more intense orgasms after the abstinence period.
  • Semen retention has been linked to increased testosterone levels, according to a small study on young, healthy men.
  • Longer periods of abstinence have been associated with increased sperm count and semen volume, based on a meta-analysis of multiple studies.
  • While semen retention may have potential benefits for some individuals, there are concerns about fixation on orgasm without ejaculation, stress and anxiety, and pelvic floor pain and discomfort.
  • Choosing to abstain from pornography may be a healthier alternative to semen retention during No Nut November.


Do you guys know what month it is? It’s technically No Nut November! I’m Dr. Rena Malik, urologist and pelvic surgeon, and I’m finally going to talk to you guys about No Nut November or semen retention. If you’re new here, I talk about all sorts of things, sexual health, urologic health, bladder health, and much much more. Make sure if you like what you see you, subscribe and share this channel with your friends!

So what exactly is No Nut November? Well, it’s a practice of avoiding ejaculation for the whole month of November. Not to be confused with No Fap, which is actually a website that offers resources and a community for people who are struggling with porn addiction. They do talk about abstinence for some short period of time from certain types of sexual activities, but avoidance of certain types of sexual activities or porn-watching is part of their philosophy or what they recommend as far as resources are concerned. But that is not what they are all about. They are essentially trying to help men improve their sexual well-being.

So how did this even come about? Well, it’s been around for a long period of time. In fact, ancient Taoist literature discussed semen retention as a way of self-control. They believed that ejaculating was actually losing control of oneself, and keeping it in or semen retention was actually a way to improve health and control of your body. Proponents of semen retention say there are so many benefits to having increased mental clarity, increased concentration, having better quality sperm, increased testosterone, deeper and happier relationships, and so much more. But is it backed by science? Is doing this safe or can it potentially harm you?

The interesting thing about semen retention is that it’s actually in this specific No Nut November that it’s recommended not to ejaculate. That is very distinct from not having an orgasm. So people will start and try to have orgasms without ejaculating during this process. They’ll do things like edging, which is essentially the stop and start technique that we talk about for premature ejaculation, or they will do things like try to force retrograde ejaculation by pushing on the perineum and forcing ejaculate to go back into the bladder. People feel that this allows them to have better orgasms and potentially multiple orgasms and longer sexual stamina.

I’m going to talk a bit about the small amount of data that we have on this practice, and then after that, I’ll talk about a little bit about the potential harms associated with semen retention. First, let’s talk about the thought that it increases testosterone.

This is a very small study that was done on 10 men in the ages of 22 to 29. And what they did was they had these men, on day zero, watch a film. The film was the first 20 minutes of an emotionally neutral documentary. In the middle 20 minutes, they showed them pornographic material and they encouraged them or asked them to masturbate and orgasm. They then had them abstain for 21 days from any sort of ejaculation. On the 21st day, they again showed them the same video. During these videos, they monitored their heart rate and blood pressure continuously, and they also measured some blood levels every 10 minutes. The whole process took about an hour. They also asked people to fill out questionnaires about how sexually aroused they were and the quality of their orgasm. Like how intense was it, how long was it, and they captured all that information.

What they found was that this period of 21 days of abstinence didn’t affect any of the physiologic changes that we expect to see during arousal and masturbation orgasm – all those remained the same. They did find, however, that people had better sexual arousal, subjectively felt like they were more aroused, and had longer duration and more intense orgasms after that period of abstinence. They also saw that starting at 20 minutes, if you look at baseline levels of testosterone, they actually increased from the 20-minute mark onward during that second period after they had abstained from intercourse or ejaculation for 21 days.

But does that even make a big difference? The thought behind why this happened is that these people probably were more aroused or more enhanced after having these anticipatory cues of the the video that was coming, the pornographic material, and they got excited more so because they had been abstinent for 20 days.

What about sperm quality? Well, there’s one meta-analysis that looked at this. All of the studies that were included needed to look at men who were dropping off a semen analysis after a certain period of time during which they were abstinent, and they’re required to document how long that was. And there were two things that they found that increased with longer abstinence or greater than five days of absence, and that was sperm count and semen volume. The semen volume was studied in 17 studies, and out of those 17 studies, 15 found a significant correlation of increasing abstinence time with an increase in volume. And in 11 studies that looked at sperm count, 100% of them saw an increase in sperm count after abstinence.

So, generally, what do I take away from this? Well, this testosterone study was really on a small number of people and very young healthy men, so will it apply to everybody? I’m not really sure. As far as sperm parameters, we know that holding off for a couple days is actually recommended in men who are infertile. We actually recommend that during the ovulatory period when you’re trying to conceive, that you have sex every two days rather than doing it every day because sperm parameters do increase when you have a little bit of delayed time between ejaculations.

So what do I think about semen retention or No Nut November? Well, I think if you’re getting benefits from participating in No Nut November, like you’re feeling more clear, you’re having deeper relationships, you’re feeling like you’re more excited about being with your partner, and you’re getting more clarity, that’s great. Go ahead and do it. Not ejaculating doesn’t have any harmful consequences that we know of. Your body will essentially resorb the semen that you don’t ejaculate out, and so it’s not a problem if you haven’t ejected for a certain period of time. However, there are some concerns that I do have.

One is that when you’re going through this process, if you’re trying to really focus on having orgasms without ejaculation, you can get very fixated on that prospect. You can get very fixed on edging, and it can be very hard to have a relationship, a very meaningful, important sexual relationship with a partner because you’re very fixated on yourself. It can also cause a lot of stress and anxiety to go through No Nut November. As I mentioned in my previous video on masturbation, there are a number of benefits to masturbation, including better sleep, decreased heart rate, decreased stress, and a lot of increase in feel-good hormones.

The other thing that I worry about is that people can get a lot of pain and discomfort in their pelvic floor or their testicles. A lot of you guys have heard of blue balls. In fact, there’s very little data on this in the scientific literature, but it’s called epididymal hypertension. And the reason being is that during arousal, you get increased blood flow to the testicles, as well as everything else, and usually, that’s decreased after you ejaculate. But if you don’t ejaculate, that increased pressure stays around and can be what we perceive as, or what men perceive as, blue balls. And for some people, that can be quite painful and it can last for quite a bit period of time. We also sometimes see men who have elevated pelvic floor tone in men who don’t masturbate or don’t ejaculate for long periods of time because they’re building up all this stress and tension in their pelvic floor. That can result in pain, and while there’s no data on this, we’ll sometimes recommend that these men masturbate two or three times a week just to help with that pain.

So, I think if you’re going to try to participate, a much healthier option is actually to go No Fap – to avoid pornography, which has a lot of potentially dangerous side effects. If you’re watching violent porn or porn that’s not realistic, it can actually really affect your brain and the way you perceive sex and the way you have relationships with other people. So if you want to try something new for November, try to hold off on pornography rather than holding off on ejaculation.

I hope you all learned something today. As always, remember to take care of yourself because you’re worth it.