Sexologists falsely claim that the well-known “7-day without ejaculation testosterone spike” study was retracted. It wasn’t.

There’s a semi-viral tweet by a porn-industry friendly sexologist, David Ley, going around claiming that a well-known study from China has been retracted. The problem is that the underlying research hasn’t actually been retracted. If you find this confusing, you aren’t alone.

Scientists who conduct research on problematic porn users (and related topics) often face attempts to obstruct funding, board approval, and publication of their findings. If they’re lucky enough to get past all of these obstacles, they may still face incessant attempts by industry-friendly PhDs to have their papers retracted for baseless reasons. 

Your Brain on Porn’s late founder (and author of the bestselling book) Gary Wilson was often subject to such censorship attempts, including various failed attempts to take down his paper co-written with seven United States Navy doctors. After the censorship attempts failed, a porn industry-connected sexologist went after the journal itself, maligning it on Wikipedia and other places online.

Once again…

Unfortunately, this well-rehearsed tactic from the “porn industry playbook” surfaced again recently. This time, an industry-connected sexologist appears to have had a translation (of an earlier paper) on ejaculation’s effect on testosterone “retracted” for the simple reason that it was a full translation with a new publication date, and not the original paper (which was only partially translated into English).

The “retraction note” is available here. It clearly explains that the retraction was granted because it was an English translation of a Chinese article previously published by the same author.

The original paper, published about three months before the English translation, remains unretracted and is available for viewing here. This latest censorship of science is unfortunate for people who cannot read Mandarin. Yet the full paper is well summarized in the abstract of the original paper, which is still online at PubMed:

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the changes in sex hormone level in men after ejaculation. The serum testosterone concentrations of 28 male volunteers were investigated daily during abstinence period after ejaculation. We found that fluctuations of testosterone levels from day 2 to day 5 of abstinence were minimal. On day 7 of abstinence, a peak of serum testosterone appeared, reaching 145.7% of the baseline (P<0.01). After the peak, no regular fluctuation was observed. Ejaculation was the premise and beginning of the 7 days’ periodic phenomenon. If there was no ejaculation, there was no periodical changes in serum testosterone level. These results indicate that the periodic change in serum testosterone level is caused by ejaculation.

So there you have it. Despite absurd claims by industry-friendly sexologists, the substance of the paper has not been retracted. Neither has the underlying research. The original study hasn’t been retracted. Only a published translation has been “retracted” for being a translated copy of the same research team’s prior paper. The science of the underlying study remains sound and unchallenged. The paper still supports the existence of a temporary blood-serum testosterone spike around 7 days of ejaculation abstinence.

So why are pro-porn sexologists on Twitter implying that it has been “retracted” for being unsound? 

A somewhat-viral tweet by industry-friendly sexologist David Ley insinuates that the entire concept of a 7-day testosterone spike is no longer valid. Ley even tweeted that the paper is “junk science.” Many porn industry-connected accounts heavily promoted his semi-viral tweet. Are we watching the porn industry disinformation apparatus in action?

Why would a “therapist” mislead as many people as possible, falsely claiming that the substantive study itself has been retracted and is “#junkscience”? Why would this therapist target a random 20-year-old paper from China?

Is Nofap the real target?

The 7-day testosterone boost helped to inspire the creation of NoFap, one of the larger porn addiction recovery websites online. By attempting to discredit this paper, the industry-friendly PhDs think that they are discrediting NoFap. And also discrediting the many porn addicts who cite this study as inspiration to experiment with rebooting (i.e., a period of eliminating porn-fueled masturbation).

The reality is that while the paper partially inspired the creation of the Reddit/NoFap subreddit back in 2011, where they hosted a 7-day ejaculation avoidance challenge, NoFap has pushed back against claims that abstaining from orgasm long-term has a marked impact on testosterone levels. So has Your Brain on Porn. NoFap has not hung its hat on this one paper. The paper just helped the subreddit attract its first group of Fapstronauts. Even if the underlying study had been retracted (it wasn’t), this one paper matters little with respect to the website’s views. What does one paper about blood-serum testosterone levels have to do with whether or not porn addiction exists?

NoFap started as a forum to host week and month-long challenges to temporarily abstain from masturbation. It quickly evolved into a porn-addiction recovery site, once participants realized the real problem for their symptoms: excessive porn use. There are now 60 neuroscience based studies that support the porn-addiction model. Furthermore, over 50 studies link porn use/porn addiction to sexual problems and lower arousal to sexual stimuli. The first 7 studies on that list demonstrate causation, as participants eliminated porn use and healed chronic sexual dysfunctions. Put simply, plenty of science supports the idea that chronic porn use can lead to problems, and that abstaining from porn may lead to reversing those problems.

Why didn’t David Ley point out that his close colleague appears to be behind the “retraction” of the translated paper? 

In a blog post, a close associate of David Ley, who also enjoys a cozy relationship with the porn industry, took credit for initiating the circumstances that led to the so-called “retraction.” They appear to have been striving toward this goal for many months. Ultimately, they failed, only succeeding in getting a subsequent, more complete, translation removed.

Why would a “scientist” attempt to censor a better translation of scientific research that was published almost 20 years prior and never invalidated? Why would a “scientist” make it their mission to attempt to get any translation of the paper “retracted?”

Could it be due to this “scientist” being cozy with the porn industry, including its lobbying group? Could it be due to this “scientist” spending a lot of time maligning anyone who dares to raise awareness about the adverse effects and risks of unfettered digital porn consumption?

Finally, why is David Ley claiming that two of the study’s authors “don’t appear to exist”?

The authors are from China. The paper was published nearly 20 years ago. Maybe after nearly 20 years they changed their email addresses. Perhaps after nearly 20 years they retired from the field. Possibly they don’t speak English, or don’t accept emails from non-Chinese email addresses.

Just because somebody doesn’t reply to a (no doubt) hostile and/or accusatory email about a paper published nearly two decades ago does not mean that the person does not exist. Should recourse be available to the original authors, who now have a phony “retraction” on their record for daring to translate a Chinese-language paper into English so that more people could read it? Apparently the journal editors originally thought it was a good idea to make the full translation available to English-speaking scholars.

Lots of questions, but it’s unlikely we’ll get answers anytime soon. In any case, it’s interesting that sexologists who lobby with the porn industry against age verification (which they see as “censorship” of porn) now actively participate in censorship and misrepresentation of valid research they happen to dislike. The same people behind this censorship of a scientific paper attempted to censor Your Brain on Porn by trademarking its URL.

Who would have guessed we would get to a point where those who vehemently defend porn strive to censor the speech and work of others? Yet here we are.