No, masturbating doesn’t cause blindness. Let’s debunk this myth and highlight some other common misconceptions about masturbation.

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Masturbation is often a natural part of a healthy sex life for single people and couples alike. But there are lots of masturbation myths out there that might try to convince you that masturbation is unhealthy or dangerous.

For decades — and maybe longer — these misconceptions and urban legends have perpetuated stigma, shame, and fear around a common practice of self-pleasure.

For example, some people might believe that masturbating “too often” can negatively affect the eyes. But can you actually experience vision loss or blindness from masturbating?

Losing your vision or going blind isn’t a common side effect of masturbation.

“This unfortunate myth about masturbation — causing blindness, acne, or other health hazards — is quite untrue,” says certified sex therapist and resident sexologist for Adam & Eve Jenni Skyler, PhD, LMFT. She explains that this is an “old myth made to control the masses with a fear that sexual arousal would cause out-of-control behaviors and the collapse of society.”

Masturbation can cause damage to the eyes in very extreme cases, such as an instance reported in this 2014 study.

“On a rare occasion, vigorous activity of any kind — including masturbation — can increase blood flow and heart rate and pop a blood vessel (to include in the eye),” Skyler explains. However, eye injury from masturbation is extremely rare and requires excessive force.

So, if you’re regularly masturbating with moderate force and vigor, it’s unlikely that your self-pleasure could lead to a popped blood vessel or loss of eyesight.

Going blind from masturbating is just one of many masturbation misconceptions. Some other common myths surrounding masturbation include:

Where do these false beliefs come from? According to Skyler, they’re typically perpetrated by:

  • older media messages about sex and sexuality
  • religious messages that claim masturbation is dangerous
  • cultural messages or family beliefs that stigmatize self-pleasure and sexual expression in general
  • ineffective or rigid sex education programs that promote sex negativity

Despite these claims that masturbation is unhealthy or harmful, the truth is that the side effects of masturbation are generally positive.

Masturbation and self-pleasure can offer a rich opportunity to build an intimate relationship with yourself and your body, Skyler says.

With masturbation, you can explore and experiment with:

  • your erogenous zones
  • desire and arousal
  • how your orgasms work
  • your imagination and fantasies

Skyler argues that masturbation may be essential to sexual health and wellness. “If we don’t know about our own pleasure spots, how are we going to be able to tell a partner where to find them?”

Self-pleasure can also be great for your overall sexual health. You can experience the benefits of sex with a minimal chance of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or becoming pregnant.

“If a person masturbates multiple times a day, it can make the body feel fatigued and tired,” she adds. “[But] the most common side effect of masturbation is a deep sense of relaxation and rejuvenation.”

Masturbating is perfectly healthy and natural. Self-pleasure won’t cause you to go blind — unless you do it so intensely, you pop a blood vessel in your eye, which is extremely rare and unlikely.

But if you were taught growing up that masturbation is wrong or dangerous, you might experience feelings of guilt and shame when you masturbate, Skyler says.

In rare cases, you could also experience self-pleasure patterns that are difficult to control, such as the urge to masturbate at work or in public places.

When you’re conditioned to see masturbation as unhealthy, your body may “shut down” in response to self-pleasure, as well as desire and arousal, Skyler adds.

If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

Skyler recommends permitting yourself to craft a new narrative embracing masturbation as healthy, enjoyable, important, and welcome.

Seeking support from a sex therapist or mental health professional can also help you unlearn sex-negative messages — including these myths — and reframe your beliefs around pleasure.

“Don’t forget: Self-pleasure is our birthright,” adds Skyler. Once you examine these unhelpful beliefs, you can start to feel good and enjoy all of the wonderful benefits that masturbation offers.