A viral sex trend is spreading among teens. But is it pushing an unhealthy, anti-sex agenda?

Many people are familiar with No-Shave ed internet challenge mocked and memed this month – one that focuses on self-pleasure.

The annual month-long challenge, #NoNutNovember, encourages men, specifically teens, to refrain from masturbation. The trend started around 2011 and transformed into a viral competition of willpower.

High-profile celebrities like Kodak Black have participated. And the recent Season 5 premiere of Netflix’s animated sitcom about middle schoolers, «Big Mouth,» focused on it, too. But despite its widespread popularity, experts warn the trend can contribute to misinformation about masturbation and stigmatize self-pleasure for teens during a pivotal time in their sexual development.

«If you look at the narrative surrounding No Nut November on social media, it does seem to perpetuate this idea that there’s something wrong with masturbation and that it’s bad for you in some way. And that by abstaining from it, you’re going to reap some benefits,» says Justin Lehmiller, a Kinsey Institute research fellow and host of the «Sex and Psychology» podcast. «Masturbation is a normal part of sexual development and a healthy sexual outlet across the lifespan – and it’s well past time we viewed it as such.»

Andrew Glouberman (John Mulaney), Jessi Glaser (Jessi Klein) and Nick Birch (Nick Kroll) participate in (and fail) No Nut November in Season 5 of «Big https://hookupdate.net/es/chatki-review/ Mouth.» (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix, Courtesy of Netflix)

What we know about self-pleasure

Masturbation is normal, healthy and common. A 2018 report found 92% of men and 76% of women in America masturbate.

Self-pleasure has numerous health benefits, including stress relief, improved self-esteem and even reduced risk for prostate cancer. It also enables young people, in particular, to navigate their sexuality on their own terms.

«Masturbation is healthy, and (as) young teens come into their own sexuality. it’s a way of connecting to their sexuality through touch,» said Ian Kerner, author of «So Tell Me About the Last Time You Had Sex.

«You can transfer all that knowledge into partnered encounters in the future to help you experience more pleasure,» he says.

The danger of demonizing self-pleasure for teens

Some people participating in the trend may view it as an innocuous challenge that demonstrates a capacity for self-control, like the memorable «Seinfeld» episode, «The Contest» that won writer Larry David an Emmy. Kerner worries it pushes a harmful anti-sex and anti-masturbation agenda.

The challenge contributes to misinformation, including that refraining from masturbation boosts testosterone or improves immunity. It also reinforces the false claim, promoted by anti-porn and anti-masturbation groups, that refraining from self-pleasure leads to improved sexual performance.

«(It) isn’t based on any amount of science, so when things like this come up, young people make an assumption – especially if they’re not exposed to proper sex education – and think this is some type of reality when there’s actually no science behind it,» says Michelle Hope, a sexologist and reproductive justice activist.

«If we’re shaming them about something that is so natural, we’re also instilling in them this idea that something very natural makes them bad,» Hope warns.

That stigma can lead some people to view a natural activity as «a source of stress rather than an avenue for relief.»

We need to talk about teen sexuality, even if it’s awkward

Instead of shaming teens’ innate sexual curiosity, experts say we should «focus on reaffirming their experiences and their sexuality.» Sexuality is a normal part of human development.

Teaching children healthy sexuality must begin early, and advocates like Hope say it starts with education that destigmatizes, not demonizes, these topics.

«It’s important for us to understand that from the womb to the tomb, sexuality is part of your everyday life,» she says. «By providing young people comprehensive sex education were really setting them up for a much more successful, healthier and pleasurable sex life in the long run.»

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