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Does Masturbation Cause Blindness?

Submitted by dave on Fri, 05/23/2008 - 5:36pm

Dr. Michael Ashworth says, "The myths that masturbation leads to blindness, or causes you to grow hair on the palms of your hands, or will cause someone to be impotent later in life, or leads to mental illness, have all been debunked many times; but they seem to have a life of their own and crop up again and again."

I heard these myths many, many years ago and dismissed them all on the advice of reports such as Dr. Michael Ashworth's. He continues, "Many researchers, including Kinsey, reported on people who masturbated four times a day or so for years, and suffered from no diseases as a result."

intraocular pressure and sex

Obviously, I am not writing this post on simply to tell you something you already know. Why would I waste space busting a myth that was busted years, even decades, ago? Even if the myth continues to pop up from time to time, this alone would not interest me enough to generate a post on What is interesting, however, is the relationship between sex and eye pressure -- especially because I have several years worth of quantitative data that reveals some surprising findings.

I am going to describe some finding related to intraocular pressure and sexual activity and I am also going to tie my findings in to ancient knowledge about sex and energy medicine because the concepts from energy medicine provide, in my opinion, the best theoretical framework to explain my findings regarding intraocular pressure and sexual activity.

Michael Ashworth, Ph.D. continues to describe masturbation as an activity with "no downside." He says, "Many married men and women masturbate, not because they don't have satisfactory sex with their partners, but because they occasionally like the alternative of giving themselves pleasure. And that's the whole point -- masturbating is one of the few pleasurable things in life that we can do almost anytime and anywhere, as often as we want, without gaining weight, getting lung cancer, being arrested or causing ourselves to become ill. There is no down side, if one can avoid that guilt so many people have."

I want to strongly disagree with the last statement: according to Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine there is a serious downside to masturbation or any act that dissipates our sexual energy in an inappropriate manner. (These medical systems also include specific recommendations for enjoying sexual activity without the downsides.) I understand this point of view might infuriate some people who have bought into the modern view as advocated by people such as Dr. Michael Ashworth. Some might accuse me of moralizing the issue -- that is not the case. The principles of ancient medical systems such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine are not about dogma or religious beliefs - they are concerned with pragmatic issues of health and well-being.

I am not going to go deeply into kundalini energy, prana or qi in this post because I want to focus instead on the relationship between intraocular pressure and sexual energy. However, in order to describe that relationship, I have to assume you understand these ancient principles. If you wish, I can expand on this in the comments. For now, I will simply say that these ancient traditions are very clear that our sexual energy and our general health are tightly interrelated.

As the readers of know, I have been obsessively measuring my own intraocular pressure for several years, up to 200 or more times per day. I have monitored my eye pressure before and after almost every activity that is part of my life. This includes brushing my teeth, taking a shower, working out, playing with my dog, driving, sleeping, breathing, pranayama, shopping, walking, eating, watching TV, watching movies, normal daily stress, reading books, using the computer, and a long, long list of other activities. One of those activities is sex.

Sex almost always raises my eye pressure. I have checked my intraocular pressure before and immediately after sex many times. It is rare that sex doesn't significantly increase intraocular pressure. The effect is absolutely reliable. My IOP is virtually always elevated after sex, regardless of posture, duration, effort, breathing or any other variable I have tracked. Sex increases eye pressure.

Dr. Ritch asked me about my findings regarding sexual activity and intraocular pressure last year. The way the discussion unfolded, I assumed Dr. Ritch was familiar with this phenomenon before our discussion and that it is something he considers common. However, until preparing to write this blog post I never thought to question Dr. Ritch further about this matter. As busy as Dr. Ritch is, I do not know if he will comment further at this time, but I hope he does.

I would like to invite everyone who owns a tonometer to test this effect and report their results so we can begin to estimate how wide-spread this effect really is. In my own research I have isolated the effect of sexual activity from the effect of posture as well as other potential confounders. It is clear that the sexual activity is the factor that elevates intraocular pressure in my data. (I encourage anyone else who collects IOP data in this area to discuss proper methodology with me so you can be sure your data is good.)

As I said, I have been aware of the effect of sexual activity on eye pressure for several years. I have also been aware that meditation and other relaxation techniques can often raise intraocular pressure. The list of activities that dramatically elevate my eye pressure include sex, stress and certain types of meditation or mental relaxation techniques. Given the data I have observed on sex and intraocular pressure together with my knowledge of prana, kundalini energy and qi (chi) in the context of health and consciousness, I began constructing new tests about a year ago based on the idea that managing sexual energy could be an important piece of the puzzle in reducing intraocular pressure.

As a result of that research, I recently found that a particular form of an ancient "energy" technique that transmutes sexual energy into spiritual energy produces dramatic decreases in my intraocular pressure. I can engage in sexual activity without the typical elevated intraocular pressure afterwards. And the better I get at managing and transmuting this sexual energy, the more control I seem to have over my own eye pressure. I have repeated these experiments several times over the last couple weeks and I continue to be amazed with the low IOP values I see after practicing one specific energy circulation technique. It will require a series of blog posts to cover this subject in detail and I will be glad to provide more information here on if this post generates a lot of interest. (In the current blog post I am not going into details of the exact technique I use to reduce IOP via transmutation of sexual energy.)

My findings indicate that masturbation or any sexual activity that results in uncontrolled male ejaculation increases intraocular pressure. (I have no idea how this information might apply to females.) Conversely, I have found that using a specific energy technique (which I will not describe further in this article) to consciously work with the sexual energy and move it through the subtle energy systems of the body rather than let that energy culminate in ejaculation results in significantly lower eye pressure. Again, the more I work with this technique, the more control I seem to have over my intraocular pressure.The technique I use has nothing to do with sex (or sexual "tantra" or anything else like that). It is purely a technique for creating inner fitness. It is said to enhance physical health and emotional health, foster abundance, bring peace of mind and lead to enlightenment. In my case, it seems to lower my eye pressure.

In recent weeks I have finally broken through the last remaining barrier I had in managing my intraocular pressure -- the early morning hours in the supine position. This situation is still a challenge for me, as I have written in the past, but now, for the first time, I am finding factors I can incorporate into my lifestyle that have a positive impact on my eye pressure in this critical situation. One of the most significant things I have done is learn how to manage and cultivate Qi energy. I am also spending a lot of time studying Byron Katie's Work, Eckhart Tolle's concepts of the ego, and managing my stress. All of this helps. But the energy technique mentioned previously has the most striking and immediate positive effect on my intraocular pressure.

For a person with elevated intraocular pressure or glaucoma, I feel very confident that managing sexual energy plays a role in visual health. If certain types of sex, including masturbation, increase intraocular pressure, then there is some basis to those persistent old myths that masterbation could lead to blindness -- at least in this limited context. Furthermore, if my incredibly surprising results in lowering intraocular pressure through this specific energy technique that transforms sexual energy holds over time and over a larger sample, then that further reinforces the link between sex and vision. That's why I chose to use the title, "Does Masturbation Cause Blindness?" My own data -- and I have lots of it -- shows that any "dissipative" sexual activity, including masturbation, increases my intraocular pressure dramatically. That certainly pushes my risk, as a glaucoma patient, in the wrong direction. I consider this a real issue because I have real data supporting it and I see the same results repeated virtually every single time. This is real - based on my data we can no longer dismiss this as some old unsupported myth when it comes to glaucoma.

Aside: almost all normal sexual activity is dissipative according to Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine - some more than others. Masturbation is considered one of the more dissipative activities. The Ayurvedic physicians I know view excessive masturbation as harmful to the health. The ancient texts are universal in encouraging conservation of sexual energy for health reasons. The advice to refrain from spilling one's seed has nothing whatsoever to do with religion in this context. The good news is that by learning the proper techniques one can transform normal sexual activities into something that is considered beneficial to one's health by these same ancient traditions. The problem is not sex. The solution is not necessarily avoidance of sex. The problem is sex that dissipates one's vital healing energy and the solution is learning techniques that prevent the dissipation of that energy. In my own research I have focused specifically on energy medicine techniques that reduce intraocular pressure.

I do believe I am on to something very important here and I would love to hear from everyone who has a tonometer and is willing to carefully collect IOP data in connection with sexual activities. I realize this subject may be taboo for many people and I probably picked a title and lead-in for this article that sound a bit sensational. However, even though you can obviously tell I consider this a serious subject -- with solid data indicating real risk -- I also rejected the idea of writing a dry and boring article just to avoid potentially raising some ire. Actually, I did tone things down considerably from what I originally had in mind.

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