Are There Any Benefits to Not Ejaculating (Semen Retention)?

Medically Reviewed on 10/20/2021
semen retention
Practicing semen retention is thought to boost testosterone levels, improve fertility, and lead to more intense orgasms.

It is hard to say whether there may be any real benefits of not ejaculating (medically referred to as semen retention). There is not enough scientific evidence to recommend this practice to all men.

If a man does not ejaculate, the semen gets channeled back into the body and is disintegrated.

Practicing semen retention for two to five days is a criterion before ejaculating on the day of a semen analysis. This is to ensure that there is a maximum amount of sperm in the semen sample. However, this does not imply that the practice should be encouraged to preserve the sperm.

The ancient practice of semen retention has been part of spiritual health for years, including religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. These religions teach that avoiding ejaculation diverts one’s life force through their mind, body, and spirit.

Most recently, users on online forums regularly participate in “NoFap” challenges, where they avoid ejaculation and watching porn for a month or longer. The benefits of the “NoFap” challenge are thought to boost testosterone levels and sexual health while avoiding porn is thought to help cure erectile dysfunction (inability of the penis to get erect).

Some of the potential health benefits of semen retention may include:

More intense orgasms

  • It has been believed that not ejaculating for a long time may lead to more intense orgasms.
  • However, according to a 2001 study, an abstinence period of three weeks did not affect the sensations of men during ejaculation.

Improved fertility

  • There is a belief that semen retention can increase a man’s fertility by improving sperm quality. However, there are mixed studies on this.
  • According to a 2018 study, avoiding ejaculation for periods of more than four days can negatively affect sperm quality. However, another study conducted in 2015 suggested that ejaculating every day has no negative effects on sperm quality.

Are there any side effects of semen retention?

Ejaculatory abstinence or semen retention is devoid of risks, but a few side effects are possible, which include:

Epididymal hypertension

  • Epididymal hypertension (blue balls) occurs when a sexually aroused man does not ejaculate. However, this is a harmless condition that goes away by reducing sexual arousal or ejaculating.

Problems with ejaculation

  • If a man is practicing semen retention, the trapping of the sperm may cause a condition known as premature ejaculation, in which the man ejaculates even before their partner is sexually satisfied.
  • Controlling the urge to ejaculate during sexual stimulation may lead to a condition known as retrograde ejaculation, in which the sperm instead of traveling back to the testicles gets rerouted into the bladder.

What are the benefits of ejaculating?

The primary aim of ejaculating for most men is to experience heightened pleasure. Ejaculating releases hormones called endorphins, which are known to make a person feel good.

Other benefits of ejaculation may include:

Enhanced well-being

  • Sexual activity improves the well-being of both partners. However, solo masturbation can help do the same thing for some men.

Prevention of prostate cancer

  • Ejaculation may be a good way to ward off prostate cancer, which has been backed up by a large-scale study published in 2018 in the journal European Urology.
  • The study had a 10-year follow-up period and reported that men who ejaculated 21 times in a month had less than 50 percent reduction in the risk of prostate cancer than those who ejaculated just four to seven times per month.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/20/2021
References
Muise, Amy, Ulrich Schimmack, and Emily A. Impett. Sexual frequency predicts greater well-being, but more is not always better. Social Psychological and Personality Science 7.4 (2016): 295-302.

Is Masturbation Healthy? https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/sex-pleasure-and-sexual-dysfunction/masturbation/masturbation-healthy

Rider JR, Wilson KM, Sinnott JA, et al. Ejaculation frequency and risk of prostate cancer: Updated results with an additional decade of follow-up. Eur Urol. 2016;70(6):974-982.