Dry orgasm, or orgasmic anejaculation, means that orgasm occurs without ejaculation, so the penis does not release semen as usual.
There are several possible causes of a dry orgasm. Some are temporary, but others may be long-lasting or even permanent.
Dry orgasms themselves are not a health concern, but the underlying issue may require treatment in some cases. Dry orgasms can take a mental toll if a person feels embarrassed to discuss the issue with a partner. They may also affect a person’s ability to have children.
Treatment is available for some causes of dry orgasm, so it is best to see a doctor for a diagnosis.
One common cause of a dry orgasm is having repeated orgasms.
Having multiple orgasms in a short period may cause a dry orgasm. It takes time for the body to replenish its semen stores, and having numerous orgasms can deplete these stores. This issue is not typically a cause for concern.
Some people regenerate semen faster than others, but the body should start producing more semen after a few hours of rest.
Some people do not produce enough semen to ejaculate, which may be due to a genetic abnormality.
If this is the case, there is nothing wrong with the person’s health.
Low testosterone levels may also contribute to reduced ejaculation, particularly as a person gets older, and their testosterone levels decline. It can also occur in people with hormonal imbalances.
Some dry orgasm issues may also stem from blockages in the urethra or ejaculatory duct, which is the small tube through which the semen travels during ejaculation.
A cyst may grow within these ducts, or sperm may become trapped and fail to leave the body.
Nerve damage may also lead to issues with ejaculation. Nerve damage may occur as a result of an accident that causes spinal injury or as a complication of another condition, such as cancer, diabetes, or multiple sclerosis.
Surgical treatment in a part of the body close to the penis may also cause dry orgasm.
A person who undergoes the removal of their prostate, bladder, or lymph nodes may no longer produce semen or ejaculate. These surgeries may affect the muscles or nerves that play a role in ejaculation.
For example, surgeries for prostate cancer that remove the prostate or seminal vesicles will result in permanent dry orgasm. As the American Cancer Society note, the testicles will still make sperm cells, but the body will reabsorb them rather than producing semen.
This reabsorption does not harm the body or lead to any complications other than dry orgasm.
Surgical procedures and other medical treatments that may affect ejaculation and lead to dry orgasm include:
- open prostatectomy
- laser prostate surgery
- lymph node dissection
- transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP
- transurethral incision of the prostate, or TUIP
- transurethral microwave therapy, or TUMT
- radiation therapy
Many people confuse a dry orgasm with a retrograde orgasm. The result of both is similar in that the individual does not ejaculate semen during orgasm.
However, in a retrograde orgasm, this occurs slightly differently. When people with retrograde orgasm have an orgasm, the ejaculate comes out, but it goes into the bladder instead of out through the penis.
Retrograde orgasm occurs because the bladder does not stay closed during an orgasm, which it usually would to prevent backflow. When it cannot remain closed, semen can easily travel into the bladder instead of out through the urethra. Following a retrograde orgasm, the body releases the semen in the urine, which can make the urine appear cloudy.
Retrograde orgasms may be more common in people who undergo specific medical procedures, such as surgeries involving the prostate. Certain medications, such as alpha-blockers, may also cause retrograde orgasm.
On the other hand, dry orgasm is the term for when an individual does not ejaculate semen during orgasm. Therefore, although retrograde orgasms and dry orgasms may have similar causes and the same outcome, they are different.
Anyone who is experiencing dry orgasm should see a doctor.
The doctor will ask a series of questions about the person’s symptoms. They may also ask about the types of medication that the person takes and whether they have had any surgical procedures.
In most cases, the doctor will also perform a physical exam of the area, including the prostate, penis, and rectum.
To help find the cause of the dry orgasm, the doctor may want to test the urine after a person has an orgasm.
To do this, they will give the person a urine sample cup and ask them to masturbate in a bathroom until they climax. The person then urinates after climaxing, collecting a urine sample in the provided container. This process can help identify cases of retrograde ejaculation and make it easier for doctors to diagnose the underlying cause.
From there, the doctor may order several different tests, depending on what they suspect the underlying cause to be. A thorough diagnosis is important in each case to determine possible treatments.
Treating dry orgasm itself is not possible. However, in some cases, treating the underlying cause will prevent future dry orgasms.
For instance, if a person takes certain medications that cause dry orgasms, doctors may recommend switching to a different medication, which may resolve this symptom.
Dry orgasms are not treatable in other cases, such as following surgeries that remove part of the prostate.
Although dry orgasms do not affect overall health, they may affect a person’s fertility. Anyone trying to conceive should speak to a doctor, who may make a referral to a fertility specialist to discuss treatments and therapies to help restore the ability to ejaculate. Even if the person cannot conceive through sex, there are other options to retrieve sperm and fertilize an egg.
For retrograde orgasms, doctors may recommend several medical treatments or procedures to help keep the bladder closed during climax. Alternatively, as the authors of a review article note, if a person tries to only orgasm when they have a full bladder, it may be possible to retrieve sperm from the urine for insemination.
Anyone who has dry orgasms should talk to their doctor. Doctors can help determine any underlying issues and offer treatments where possible. While dry orgasm itself is typically not a cause for concern, doctors will try to discover the underlying issue.
Some causes may be treatable with medication changes or therapy, but dry orgasm can sometimes be permanent.
Chronic dry orgasm may affect a person’s ability to have children naturally. A doctor can offer advice on other ways to conceive children.
It is important to note that some people with dry orgasm may still release sperm in very small amounts. As a result, using protection during sex is still important to prevent unplanned pregnancies.