Ask the Sexpert: Oct. 15, 2009
Last night I found a letter in my bathroom purporting to be from the Dean of Undergraduate Life explaining that the shower drains had become clogged due to excessive masturbation. Can that even happen?
- Fact Checking
Dear Fact Checking,
The infamous "masturbation is a violation of the honor code" letter strikes again. In case anyone was wondering, yes, this is a hoax - it's signed by Dick W. Anker, for goodness' sakes - most likely perpetrated by one of the many frats on campus. And kudos to them: They even went through the trouble of getting Princeton letterhead this year. Well played.
The letter claims that multiple shower drains have been clogged by excessive amounts of semen, but this is almost impossible. Perhaps it could be done if one were to take a huge tub full of semen and pour it down a drain, but even then I doubt it would stay clogged for long.
Why is that? For one, a single human body just doesn't produce enough ejaculate per period of masturbation to clog a drain. And if the water is running, then the semen will easily be washed away.
Think of the drainpipe as just a larger vagina. When initially ejaculated, semen goes through an initial clotting process that allows it to stick to the vaginal wall and not be immediately flushed out. Here, it would theoretically stick to the shower drainpipe. Within five to 40 minutes, though, the semen will liquefy - this is thought to allow the sperm to travel between the vaginal canal and the ova. In a shower, even without water flowing through the pipes, this liquefying will allow the semen to travel down into the septic system and out. And that's if there is no water in the system and no soap. Adding just water will speed up the process; adding soap will cause the jelly-like seminal liquid to separate into globules - just like in those commercials for dish detergent - and be easily washed away. No semen, no clogging, no worries.
However, this brings up another issue. No, masturbating in the shower won't clog the pipes. And no, the University will not penalize you with an Honor Code violation. It is possible that, if someone found you masturbating in the shower and felt uncomfortable, you could be charged with public indecency, public lewdness, or sexual harassment. But what I want to talk about here is common courtesy.
If you masturbate in the shower, be discreet and clean up after yourself. Now that we know you can't get in trouble for sending semen cascading down the University pipes, please make sure it ends up in the pipes and not on the floor tiles, walls or - heaven forfend - the shower curtain.
It's your business, so clean it up, and leave no trace. It's as easy as that.
- The Sexpert
‘Sexpert' is written by a team of peer sexual health educators and fact-checked by University health professionals. You can submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.