men's health

4 minute read

No Nut November: what's it all about?

By Joseph Lee | Medically reviewed by Dr Luke Pratsides

November is an explosive time of year. Fireworks burst through the air around Bonfire Night and Diwali. Facial hair springs up and covers faces for Movember. Some people are even getting ready to erect their Christmas trees as soon as we tick over into December. But ‘No Nut November’ is all about men avoiding a very common function...

What is ‘No Nut November’?

If you’re asking yourself what is No Nut November, don’t worry, there’s no need to start replacing healthy almond and cashew snacks. No Nut November is when men challenge themselves to avoid orgasm and ejaculation for the whole of the month. This means no sperm can be released for 4 weeks and two days, or 720 hours… not that we’re counting. 

#NoNutNovember, also known by its more discreet abbreviation #NNN, started springing up on Twitter and other social media platforms in 2011. The first record of the challenge was three days into November 2011 on a popular slang glossary platform. Urban Dictionary states No Nut November is where "an individual must not masturbate for the month of November." And it was from there, the seed was sown (or not).

The ‘nut’ shoots into No Nut November from the slang phrase ‘bust(ing) a nut’, meaning to orgasm. Referring to a testicular release, the expression has been in use since the 1930s, but can also be used to mean excitement, hard work or to lose your temper. Ironically, all emotions that could be experienced by an individual embarking on the No Nut November challenge. 

Should I take part in No Nut November?

No Nut November is just one of the many monthly sensations sweeping the internet that switches an average of 30 days into a tricky personal challenge with a catchy title, Dry January and Movember being prime examples. But there’s no need to feel pressure to commit to this challenge just because it’s now making its way into Instagram hashtags. 

A whopping 96% of men in the UK masturbate, compared to 78% of British women, so it’s fair to say #NNN would get in the way of penis play for many men. Think you’ll be missing out on exercise due to ejaculation inactivity? Well, although sexual intercourse burns calories - just over 100 calories for men - it’s hardly a sustainable weight loss program. Interestingly, women burn on average 30 or so fewer calories than men whilst being intimate, but that doesn’t necessarily put to bed the argument of who’s putting the most effort in.

The male charitable challenge Movember shares the same month as No Nut November and also requires those who get involved to enact similar characteristics such as willpower, strength of mind and resisting physical activity. No Nut November has also been touched with charity too, where people are using the no ejaculation challenge to raise money for prostate cancer.

The science behind ejaculation

When a man is sexually aroused, blood vessels in the penis relax and blood pumps to the penis to form an erection. Movement on the penis and other stimulated areas send signals through the nervous system that result in ejaculation, therefore ‘busting a nut’ is a reflex of the central nervous system.

At the precise moment of orgasm, the point when you feel like a rockstar, your reproductive area has two main performances to nail. First, the tubes that store and transport sperm from the testes (vas deferens) squeeze the sperm toward the base of the penis, whilst the prostate gland and seminal vesicles release fluid to make semen. Ejaculation iminent. Next, to bring the show to a pumping climax, muscles at the base of the penis contract every 0.8 seconds and shoot semen out of the penis in as many as 5 spurts

Public opinion may suggest that a solid ‘bedroom session’ featuring sexual intercourse and orgasm can improve sleep quality, but this pathway to a good night’s sleep can also be backed up by scientific theory too. One of the reasons may be because after ejaculation there is a rise in the hormone prolactin, especially after sexual intercourse. Prolactin is a hormone that promotes REM sleep - the deep, dreamy sleep state. So, now if you fall asleep after a big release, you have medical science to back you up.

Is it ok not to ejaculate?

The actions of those who embark on the No Nut November challenge have been likened to those who are members of the NoFap community. Starting on the online social forum platform Reddit, the NoFap group helps people to overcome pornography addiction and compulsive sexual behaviours. And its community is rising, with over half a million members calling it quits with excessive ejaculation.

It is fine not to masturbate or even orgasm from sexual intercourse, however, your body may excrete sperm at night time as nocturnal emissions, more colloquially known as wet dreams.

There is no way to stop wet dreams from happening at all, however, masturbating may help to reduce the amount of stocked up fluid when you’ve “fired your gooey cannon” according to Dr Karan Raj.

Premature ejaculation 

The British Association of Urological Surgeons, people who operate on male reproductive organs, note that between 20-30% of men in the UK experience premature ejaculation, but less than a quarter of those men seek medical help for premature ejaculation.

Premature ejaculation, the most common ejaculation problem, is where a man ejaculates too quickly during sexual intercourse. There is no set duration for foreplay, sexual intercourse or reaching climax, it’s up to individuals and couples to decide if they’re happy with the time taken. According to a Global Sex Survey by Durex, most couples spend 6-10 minutes of foreplay and another 6-10 minutes before one of them reaches climax. In that survey, 65% of couples were happy with the duration of sexual intercourse, the other 35% falling short in some way.

Falling short of a time benchmark is not something men should feel guilty about because premature ejaculation happens from time to time, especially when extremely aroused or sexually stimulated. However, if 50% of the time sex results in male premature ejaculation, it’s probably a good time to seek treatment

Various psychological and physical factors can cause a man to experience premature ejaculation such as using recreational drugs (pilly willy) or prostate problems. The prostate plays a huge part in ejaculation as it produces the fluid that mixes with sperm from the testicles to create semen. Supporting your prostate to function at its best, helps its muscles to ensure semen is projected with force through the urethra and ejaculated. 

Some mental health issues such as depression and stress can cause premature ejaculation, but some are down to external factors such as relationship problems and anxiety about sexual performance with a new partner. Thankfully, premature ejaculation treatment is available in many different forms, enabling men to regain sexual confidence and perform at their best without having to take an early bath. 

The numan take

Masturbation and sexual intercourse are natural urges that involve male genitalia being stimulated, leading to ejaculation. Some men experience premature ejaculation, where semen is discharged earlier than they would like and there are treatments available to overcome that. During the month of November, a growing number of men are challenging themselves to not shoot their load for 30 days. If excessive masturbation is getting out of hand, it’s a good idea to speak to your GP.