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The average guy’s concerns when it comes to their semen are typically that he wants to ejaculate more — more distance, more volume and a higher concentration of sperm.
But some guys are thinking in the exact opposite direction, having interest in how they can ejaculate less.
It’s a concept known as “semen retention,“ and it’s gaining in popularity thanks in part to certain strains of male internet culture that see masturbation, pornography and ejaculation as hallmarks of weakness and a lack of self-control.
To find out more about semen retention, AskMen spoke with a sexpert and a doctor who’s an expert in penile health to uncover who it’s right for, its benefits and drawbacks.
What Is Semen Retention?
Despite its scientific-sounding name, from a medical standpoint, it isn’t really anything, actually.
“Semen retention is another term that doesn’t have a strict medical definition,” says Dr. Koushik Shaw of the Austin Urology Institute. “For whatever reason, some guys believe that abstaining from ejaculation will have knock-on health benefits, both physiological and psychological.”
Depending on how you approach semen retention, whether by trying not to ejaculate despite engaging in sex and/or masturbation or by avoiding sex or masturbation altogether, it can be a highly different process.
While refraining from ejaculating by not engaging in sexual pleasure is more of a psychological approach than a physiological approach, trying to prevent your semen from coming out at the moment of climax could have adverse effects.
“There is a method by which one can clench their [bladder’s] sphincter to halt ejaculation during intercourse,” says Shaw.
However, he notes that “this is an extremely bad idea” as it can lead to semen travelling into the bladder rather than being ejaculated outward. The process, “retrograde ejaculation,” can actually “cause damage to the prostate,” adds Shaw.
“Semen should only travel on a one-way route,” he says. “Out.”
What Are the Benefits or Drawbacks to Semen Retention?
As with any kind of fad related to your sex life, it’s important to know what you’re dealing with before you get started. Any wrong move here could have serious, long-lasting impacts on your sexual wellbeing.
Luckily, as Shaw notes, when it comes to the avoidance aspect of semen retention, if you want to avoid sex and masturbation, there’s really nothing stopping you from a health perspective.
“Abstaining from intercourse has no proven health effects, positive or negative,” he says.
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