Semen retention refers to the practice of avoiding ejaculation. Some people suggest that it has physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. However, scientific evidence is limited.

This article will discuss the benefits and risks of semen retention, why some people may do it, and what happens when they do.

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Semen retention refers to when a person intentionally avoids ejaculating. A person can do this by abstaining from any sexual activity, stopping before the point of ejaculation, or teaching themselves to orgasm without ejaculating.

Although this practice may seem new, this is likely only due to recent internet popularity. In fact, semen retention is an ancient practice believed to boost male physical and spiritual energy.

Some other names for semen retention include:

  • coitus reservatus
  • seminal conservation
  • sexual continence

It is also known as or included in practices called:

  • karezza (Italian)
  • maithuna (Hindu Tantra)
  • sahaja (Hindu Yoga)
  • tantra (Hinduism and Buddhism)
  • cai Yin pu Yang and cai Yang pu Yin (Taoist)

There is not much scientific evidence to suggest that it is either healthy or unhealthy to hold in semen.

In addition to limited research, factors such as individual variation and contextual influences make it challenging to categorize this as either healthy or unhealthy definitively.

There are many possible reasons that a person may try to hold in their semen. Anecdotally, some people claim that semen retention can help them with:

Mental health

Physical health

Spiritual health

  • a greater sense of purpose
  • stronger or deeper emotional bonds in relationships
  • a stronger sense of overall harmony

However, all of the above are anecdotal claims and are not guaranteed to occur.

Although there are not usually many risks associated with not ejaculating, some complications can occasionally occur.

The following sections will look at these in more detail.

Epididymal hypertension

Also known as blue balls, epididymal hypertension is what may happen if a person becomes sexually aroused but does not ejaculate or orgasm.

They may experience aching or pain in the testicles following a period of arousal that does not lead to orgasm. This occurs due to a buildup of blood in the testicles as a result of arousal.

Older research suggests that it is a harmless condition that is common in young male adults. Treatment usually involves ejaculation or reducing arousal.

Ejaculation issues

If a person regularly prevents themselves from ejaculating or reaching orgasm, they may develop ejaculation issues.

For example, a person may find themselves unable to ejaculate or orgasm when they want to, or they may experience premature ejaculation. They may also develop retrograde ejaculation, which causes semen to travel back into the bladder.

Some of the potential benefits of not ejaculating may include:

It may lead to a more intense orgasm

There is a belief that not ejaculating for a period of time may allow people to experience more intense orgasms.

However, one small-scale study from 2001 suggests that abstaining from ejaculating for three weeks may not have much of a physical impact on a person’s nervous system when they ejaculate.

Edging

Edging is the practice of engaging in sexual stimulation to the point of orgasm before stopping and starting again.

According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, edging may help increase the intensity of orgasm in some people.

It may help with premature ejaculation

People who experience premature ejaculation may use techniques similar to edging to prolong their sexual activities.

Methods such as the start-stop or squeeze techniques involve stimulating the penis until just before orgasm, then stopping or squeezing the penis until the urge to ejaculate goes away.

It may increase fertility

Some people may believe that semen retention can improve sperm quality and, therefore, increase fertility. However, there has been limited research into this.

One older study suggests that to present the best possible semen samples, a person only needs to abstain from ejaculating for one day. It also suggests that people should not exceed 10 days of sexual abstinence.

A 2018 study suggests that ejaculatory abstinence periods of more than four days have a detrimental effect on sperm. One 2015 study suggests that daily ejaculation does not have any major negative effects on sperm quality.

A 2018 review suggests revisiting the current guidelines of ejaculatory abstinence of between 2–7 days for optimal sperm samples. The review suggests that shortening the abstinence period may be beneficial to sperm quality.

It is advisable for a person to have at least two separate semen analyses when having their fertility assessed.

Some of the benefits of ejaculating may include:

It causes pleasure

Although some people believe that ejaculating can be unhealthy, studies often demonstrate the opposite to be true. When a person ejaculates, the body releases endorphins, which are hormones that can help block pain and make a person feel good.

It leads to greater well-being

Typically, frequent sexual activity in a partnered relationship is associated with greater well-being. However, some research suggests that there may be a limit to the correlation between sexual frequency and greater well-being.

Although the above studies looked at partnered sex, it is likely that masturbation has a similar effect on well-being. For example, an older study from 1991 suggested that married women who masturbate have higher self-esteem than those who do not.

It may help prevent prostate cancer

Some evidence suggests that ejaculation frequency may be inversely related to the risk of prostate cancer.

One large-scale study, with a 10-year follow-up period, found that those who ejaculated 21 times per month were 50% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who ejaculated four to seven times per month.

Another more recent review discovered a moderate ejaculation frequency (two to four times a week) was associated with a significantly decreased risk of prostate cancer. However, this does not prove a direct cause and effect relationship between the two. There could be other underlying factors or mechanisms at play that haven’t been fully explored or understood.

Learn more about how often a person should ejaculate here.

A person should stop preventing themselves from ejaculating if they experience any pain or discomfort associated with the practice. They should also stop preventing ejaculation if they find themselves unable to ejaculate if or when they decide that they want to do so.

A person should see a doctor if they become unable to ejaculate and want to father biological children, as this may need medical intervention. This is known as anejaculation and can occur due to:

If, after deciding to ejaculate, a person finds blood in their semen, they should not panic. This should resolve within a few days. However, it may be worth speaking to a medical professional if a person is concerned.

Below are some commonly asked questions about semen retention.

Are there benefits to not ejaculating?

Anecdotally, some people claim that not ejaculating benefits their mental, physical, and spiritual health.

For example, some people believe that semen retention improves their energy and focus, makes their skin clearer, and provides them with a greater sense of purpose.

However, there is limited research to support these claims.

What happens after 7 days of not ejaculating?

When a person does not ejaculate, the body naturally reabsorbs the sperm, breaking it down without causing any health problems.

This process is normal and does not negatively affect health.

However, if a person consistently tries to ejaculate but can’t, then this might signal an underlying medical issue.

How often should a man release sperm?

There are no strict guidelines on how often a person should release sperm. A person’s age and other factors may affect how frequently they ejaculate.

If a person has concerns about how frequently they ejaculate or release sperm, it is best to contact a doctor.

Currently, there is limited evidence to reach any firm conclusions about the potential benefits of semen retention. However, there has also not been much evidence to suggest that there are potential health risks.

A person can choose to abstain from sexual activity for as long as they wish. They can also try to incorporate techniques such as edging or tantric sex into their sex life to see if it is something they enjoy.

There is no set rule for how frequently a person should ejaculate. Therefore, people should try what feels right for them.