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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

No Nut November: Resist the urge

Nyla Owens
A bottle of Aveeno body lotion sits with wads of tissue scattered on a nightstand. NIU students discuss their thoughts on No Nut November. (Nyla Owens | Northern Star)

DeKALB – Men, it’s time to put away your socks and release your joysticks – No Nut November is upon us.

No Nut November is a challenge in which participants attempt to refrain from orgasming during November. The challenge started as a parody of No Shave November and began circulating the internet in 2011.

Despite the challenge’s popularity on social media, there are some who said they have never known anyone who has participated. Freshman health and human sciences major Briseyda Torres is one of them.

“I feel like it’s an inside joke. I’ve never met anyone who has participated in it,” Torres said. “To the ones that are participating, knock yourself out, good for you.” 

What started as a parody challenge for men has transformed into a sexual health movement for all genders and identities. However, getting people to talk about it can be difficult. Psychology Professor Brad Sagarin said he is unsurprised some people are apprehensive to talk about sex. 

“Our society has a very ambivalent relationship with sexuality. We are, in one sense, I think, a highly sexualized society; but then in other ways, we’re quite Puritan,” Sagarin said. “With masturbation, there’s something innocent, which is ironic given our discomfort talking about it and acknowledging it, especially given the evidence that suggests its high popularity.”

However, not everyone is shy about the subject of masturbation. A junior computer science major, Bryan Mensah, has been sexually abstinent for over a month and said the key to staying strong during the challenge is staying away from social media sites that could trigger urges.

“Stay off Twitter, Reddit and Tumblr,” Mensah said. “You see stuff on there, stuff like five girls slow dancing, and that tempts you to go crazy.”

Torres suggests participants avoid online temptation and keep themselves busy.

“Keep yourself entertained as much as possible because the temptation is always going to be there,” Torres said. “Go to the gym, keep yourself entertained, do not think about girls and just focus on school or work.” 

Mensah utilizes the gym as a way to keep his mind focused and said he has noticed several benefits since starting the challenge.

“I started working out and now I’m trying to get the gains,” Mensah said. “By not partaking in masturbation, you’re getting more testosterone drive. I feel more awake and have more energy when I wake up.”

Sagarin agreed that there are many benefits to the practice of sexual abstinence. 

“I think we now know from a lot of research that there are many benefits of masturbation in terms of relaxation, sexual release, learning about one’s own body and one sexual response,” Sagarin said. “A lot of the earlier thinking had been towards the supposed disadvantages, that masturbation would cause blindness or impotence or something like that. We now know that is not true.”

Planned bouts of sexual abstinence also have positive benefits for couples. 

“I can imagine that, in the context of a partnered relationship, it might lead to a greater focus of sexual energies on sexual interactions between the partners,” Sagarin said. “I would recommend that the couple engage in an active conversation about it in a way that both people are comfortable with and will get their needs met.”

Instead of total sexual abstinence, couples can try abstaining from solo masturbation while still allowing for their partnered sex. 

“I would say that, as with a lot of things having to do with relationships and sexuality, communication is key,” Sagarin said. “Imagine that if one person privately decides to do this and doesn’t tell their partner, that could lead their partner to guess why their lover isn’t interested in them.”

Danielle Wylie works at Lover’s Playground, an adult entertainment store in DeKalb selling a variety of sex toys and items. Wylie often gets questions from couples about their sex lives.

“I do recommend periods of abstinence to my customers if they’re having trouble trying to achieve or maintain an erection,” Wylie said. “I’ll usually just recommend that they abstain for a little bit and I do the same thing with my female or non-binary customers. It helps them to regain sensitivity.”

Too much consumption of pornography can also cause issues in the bedroom. Wylie said that while watching pornography with a partner can be fun, people should manage their expectations of what sex looks like between couples offscreen.

“I think people can watch too much porn without enough reality sprinkled in, and they’re translating that over into their relationships,” Wylie said. “Then they begin to wonder why the things they watch aren’t doing it for them.” 

Sagarin agrees that pornography can distort people’s expectation of what sex should look like.

“For decades, pornography has been available in one medium or another, but the availability of pornography on cell phones and computers means people are viewing it at a very young age, and I think that does have ramifications,” Sagarin said. “One of them being that people are exposed to sexuality explicitly, potentially at a younger age than they are necessarily ready to process what they’re seeing.”

Pornography websites contain a variety of video genres, some featuring simulated acts of sexual violence, especially toward women. 

“I think that there are behaviors that people see in porn that give them a message that something is popular, when in fact it may not be,” Sagarin said. 

One of those behaviors is choking or breath play. 

“The problem with people viewing pornography and seeing something like that is it may give them the message that everybody does this,” Sagarin said. “They think that choking is just a natural part of sex, and that may pressure people to engage in it when they might not otherwise want to. I think that pornography can be entertaining and sexually arousing, but it’s probably not the best place to get accurate information about sex.”

Misinformation can create a poor foundation for later expectations of what healthy sexual relationships should entail. Remember to always follow safe sex practices with your partner, and go nuts during No Nut November.

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