Masturbation Myths #2: Blindness

“Don’t touch that, you’ll go blind.” We’ve all heard it. But is there any truth in the idea that there’s a direct connection between your sight and your sexual senses? I mean, it’s been around so long that it seems to have acquired a truth all its own. It’s almost superstitious now.

In fact, it’s such a pervasive rumor that we at LELO can all attest to it having at least some effect on us in our youth, and that’s not fair. As part of Masturbation Month, we’re challenging some of the taboos and misconceptions about masturbation by tackling them head on. Today, we’re asking the question:

DOES MASTURBATION MAKE YOU GO BLIND?

masturbation month- blindness myth

No, there is absolutely no direct connection between vision and masturbation. There are occasional urban legends about a friend of a friend who blew some blood vessels in their eye from orgasming ‘too hard,’ but there’s not much in the way of medical documentation to prove those kinds of rumors.

Disproving this myth requires a simple equation. What percentage of people masturbate? If you answered ‘90%, and 10% of people are liars,’ then you’re probably close. And now, many people go blind suddenly and inexplicably? About 0.2% of the population (based on a global average of 0.8% of blindness in the general population, with 21% of those cases having no definitive medical cause).

See? The math doesn’t quite add up, does it? And that figure even takes into account the general depreciation of vision in old age. If the myth were true, we’d all have service animals.

SO WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

This myth was brought to us directly from the city of Lausanne, Switzerland. In 1760, the Swiss physician Samuel-Auguste Tissot released l’Onanisme, a treatise on the ‘diseases caused by masturbation’. In it, he claimed (amongst much, MUCH other batshit craziness) that zinc is vital for the processing of vision, and much zinc is lost through orgasm. Therefore, masturbation saps us of the ‘essential oils and vitamins’ required for sight.

This was the basis of much of his anti-masturbatory work, summarised in snappy soundbites like this: “How can one be otherwise than weak, when the strength of life is constantly discharged? It is the semen alone which renders a man strong.”

Unfortunately, this kind of pseudoscience has some appeal even today, and Tissot’s issuings, so to speak, took hold and propagated. For 200 years and more, we’ve believed masturbation will exhaust our oils.

Tissot’s extreme Calvinist Protestant faith had no influence on his findings, I’m sure. Especially not when he also claimed: “[sexual intercourse] with a beautiful female exhausts, less than with an ugly one.” Thanks Switzerland. We call, how you Americans say, bullsheet.

Celebrate Masturbation Month in style.

Read about other masturbation myths:

Masturbation Myths #1: Hairy Palms

Masturbation Myths #3: Decreased Sensitivity

Masturbation Myths #4: Alopecia

So what about you? What’s the craziest masturbation myth you’ve ever heard? Leave it in the comments…

Written by: Donna Turner

Donna Turner
Donna is a Volonté contributor and freelancer who lives in San Francisco with her understanding husband and not-so-understanding teenage sons. Her work frequently appears in the Journal of Sexology and Women’s Health Mag. She hosts intimacy seminars and is currently writing a book on love languages.

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