Old Wives' Tales About Masturbation

Misinformation about sexuality, especially masturbation, is nothing new. More modern ones at least have some tenuous link to reality and science, and you can read about them here.

The ones from a long time ago truly showcase the range of human imagination.
In this article we will go through the most popular old wives’s tales about masturbation, where they came from and the truth about the matter.


What are the Old Wives’ Tales?

These are the unbelievable stories you might have heard when you were younger, about all the horrible things that could happen if you masturbate (spoiler, they won’t!)
Below are the most famous ones we have collected.

Masturbating causes blindness

It was said that the more you masturbated, the worse your eyesight would get. Eventually this would lead to blindness. As the elderly tend to have worse eyesight, it makes you wonder what they are up to with their free time.

Masturbating causes hair loss

Something The Rock and Gandhi have in common? It also makes you wonder if it works the other way around, and would you masturbate more if you shaved your head?

Masturbating will give you hairy palms

The previous entry mentioned hair loss, and this time it is hair gain. Perhaps they thought it was more of a hair redistribution technique. What did the hobbits do to get hairy feet though?

Masturbating causes your penis to shrink

Perhaps a blessing for those with too much down there. No more penis reduction surgeries will be needed! Considering the propensity of smaller genitalia in ancient art, our ancestors must have been busy.

Where Did They Come From?

These are all clearly strange things to believe, so who came up with them and why?

Throughout the years, attitudes to masturbation have changed. Long ago, it tended to be thought as a natural part of life, but things changed in the 1700s when Christian moralist ideas were heavily influencing the budding new field of science.

Physicians at the time believed ‘immoral’ acts would be bad for the body. The work The Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution speaks of the writer believing all of the above. Even his name for masturbation, ‘self-pollution’ shows this.

For over a hundred years these beliefs continued, increasing the number of health problems masturbation was thought to cause.

Chiefly among these was that masturbation would drain the body’s vital energies and lead to weakness, and that overusing the imagination would cause inflammation of the brain and neurological disorders (including madness).

One of the most extreme examples is ‘Le Livre Sans Titre’ of a boy going through all these hardships until he eventually dies at the age of 17.

Apart from pseudoscience, there was also the tried and tested method of cautionary tales to stop behavior thought immoral to the moralists.

It is possible to see how these sources created these old wives’ tales, as they were made to scare people into not masturbating, threatening bodily harm (blindness, hair loss) and social stigma (visible hairy palms; so everyone knows what you were doing, and penis shrinkage; causing problems with the idea of masculinity and for partners).

So, is there any truth in all this absurdity?

The Truth

In the modern day the attitude to masturbation is changing, more and more people are seeing it as something positive and good for you!
All of the old wives’ tales have been debunked, and never had any basis in reality.

The truth is, masturbation has several health benefits, and is a fantastic method of self-care.


A few hundred years ago, attitudes to sexuality (especially masturbation) tended to be a lot more negative, with crazy, scary stories used to suppress it.

Now that science has shown how masturbation can be a great and healthy thing, we have been able to open up the conversation, and understand more about what makes us feel good.

Be free, and explore pleasure as it should be.

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