In most cases, not releasing sperm or semen shouldn’t affect your health or sex drive, though there are a few exceptions.
You don’t need to blow a load to orgasm.
Contrary to popular belief, ejaculation doesn’t have to accompany climax. You can totally have one without the other.
That said, whether it’s an issue really depends on the cause.
Intentionally abstaining from ejaculating — or semen retention — is basically what it sounds like. It’s the act of avoiding ejaculation. People who practice Taoism and tantric sex have been doing it for centuries.
You can abstain from ejaculating by not engaging in sexual activity or by teaching yourself to orgasm without ejaculating.
People do it for various reasons. For some it’s about spiritual or emotional growth. Others believe it could improve their fertility. There are also people who believe it increases physical strength and builds muscle.
There aren’t any known side effects to semen retention, so retain away if that’s your thing.
What about NoFap?
NoFap, though part of the same conversation, isn’t the same as semen retention.
The NoFap lifestyle promotes abstaining mainly from masturbation and porn — with some NoFappers choosing to abstain from any sexual activity — all in the name of rebooting sexual behaviors for a better life.
Proponents believe it can help cure compulsive sexual behavior.
“Fapstinence” is also supposed to offer a lot of the same emotional and physical benefits of semen retention and then some, but most of the claims aren’t rooted in much scientific evidence.
FYI: Most experts agree that masturbation is healthy — yes — even if enjoyed with a side of porn.
Anejaculation, primary or secondary
Anejaculation is classified as either primary or secondary.
If a person has never been able to ejaculate semen, they’re considered to have primary anejaculation. If a person loses their ability to ejaculate after having been able to before, then it’s considered secondary ejaculation.
Anejaculation can be caused by:
- spinal cord injury
- pelvic injury or surgery
- certain medications, including antidepressants
- nervous system disorders
- stress or psychological issues (situational anejaculation)
Infertility is a possible side effect of anejaculation. Depending on the cause, treatment may help restore fertility.
Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen enters the bladder instead of exiting through the penis. When it happens, you still get all the sheet-twisting feels of an orgasm, but ejaculate little to no semen.
According to the Mayo Clinic, retrograde ejaculation isn’t harmful but can cause infertility. The only other possible side effect is cloudy urine after you come, caused by semen in your pee.
Not ejaculating is really only a problem if it bothers you.
Some folks want to ejaculate because the act of physically expelling semen brings them a release that they enjoy. If you’re trying to conceive, not being able to ejaculate can be distressing.
If you’re concerned about it or trying to conceive, reach out to a general practitioner or primary healthcare provider.
It depends on whom you ask.
There’s no specific reason why you should suppress it. It ultimately comes down to doing what feels right for you.
Proponents of abstaining from ejaculation do it for various reasons, from spiritual to physical.
They point to a broad range of potential benefits for the body and mind.
Purported physical benefits
- increased stamina in the gym and the bedroom
- muscle growth
- improved sperm quality
- thicker hair
- potential for multiple orgasms
Purported mental benefits
- reduced stress and anxiety
- increased motivation
- higher confidence
- better focus and concentration
- more self-control
Purported spiritual benefits
- greater overall happiness
- more meaningful relationships
- stronger life force
Nope. There don’t appear to be any risks or complications associated with not releasing your sperm or semen by choice.
PSA: Sperm and semen are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing.
Sperm is a male reproductive cell. You might have seen their microscopic tadpole-like shape in cheesy sex ed videos at school.
Unused sperm is broken down and reabsorbed by your body.
If you’re looking for research-backed reasons to keep it in your balls, there’s not a lot to go on.
That said, not having enough research doesn’t mean that all the claims are BS.
In theory, increasing your T levels by not ejaculating might have benefits if your levels are low.
There may be a link between ejaculation frequency and prostate cancer risk.
Other than that, unless you want to conceive naturally, there isn’t any other research clearly tying ejaculation to specific benefits.
You know what does have proven benefits? Arousal.
Sexual arousal increases oxytocin and dopamine levels. You might know these neurotransmitters as “love hormones” or “happy hormones.”
A boost in oxytocin increases all the lovey-dovey feels so you feel positive, confident, and relaxed.
Dopamine also promotes feelings of positivity, while reducing anxiety and stress levels.
Not ejaculating doesn’t really have any bearing on the ability to feel sexual pleasure or have an orgasm.
But if you’re not able to ejaculate, seeing a doctor is still a good idea to rule out an underlying condition.
You should also see a doctor if:
- you’re trying to conceive
- it’s causing you distress
- you’re taking a medication that may be causing it
- you’ve injured your pelvic region
An explosion of semen doesn’t have to be the big finish at the end of a sex act. As long as you’re able to get off and enjoy the experience, not blowing the figurative load usually isn’t serious.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.