Not releasing sperm is usually harmless, but it can affect sexual pleasure and intimate relationships. If a person is unable to release sperm, they may have a health issue, such as an infection. It can also affect fertility.

Keep reading to learn more about the importance of ejaculating, possible issues, and some treatment options.

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In most cases, it is not harmful for a person to ejaculate, but it depends on the cause.

Ejaculation refers to the expulsion of semen from the body. Typically, sexual stimulation causes the central nervous system to build arousal to the point of orgasm.

During this process, sperm from the testicles travel through the epididymis and into the vas deferens. From here, it enters the urethra through the prostate’s ejaculatory ducts, mixing with seminal fluid, which comes from the seminal vesicles, and prostate secretions. The contraction of the pelvic muscles expels this fluid, now called semen, from the tip of the penis.

Several factors can prevent stimulation leading to ejaculation. Ejaculation usually occurs with an orgasm, but not always. The causes of preventing ejaculation can be intentional or unintentional.

Intentionally preventing ejaculation

Some people choose to delay ejaculation, such as during edging. Edging is when a person builds sexual stimulation almost to the point of orgasm but stops just before it occurs.

Edging is unlikely to cause health problems. In rare cases, it can cause epididymal hypertension, or “blue balls.” Other people intentionally prevent ejaculation entirely, such as those practicing Taoism.

Sexual dysfunction

In other cases, medical conditions can prevent ejaculation. For example, nerve damage can cause delayed ejaculation. Males with delayed ejaculation experience difficulty or inability to ejaculate in a reasonable time.

Anejaculation is where people are completely unable to ejaculate semen. People with this condition can still produce sperm and experience orgasms — however, they cannot ejaculate.

Anejaculation has a range of triggers, from pelvic injuries to acquiring infections. The condition can lead to infertility without treatment.

Retrograde ejaculation is where some or all of the sperm enters the bladder instead of out of the penis. The condition can also lead to infertility, but further issues are unlikely. Retrograde ejaculation is sometimes due to side effects from certain medications, such as tamsulosin. It is a harmless condition but may cause concern in some people.

The side effects of not ejaculating depend on the cause and the person.

People who choose not to ejaculate are unlikely to experience harmful side effects. The body breaks down unused sperm, which does not build up to trigger further problems.

Over time, not ejaculating can trigger psychological problems.

For example, people with sexual dysfunctions that affect their ability to ejaculate may experience distress or embarrassment. It can also lead to relationship problems. For example, partners may become frustrated with a person with sexual dysfunction.

These psychological problems could lead to mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety disorders.

Not everyone needs treatment for not ejaculating. For example, people who practice edging choose to delay ejaculation.

There are several treatments for people with sexual dysfunctions that prevent ejaculation, depending on their cause.

Many triggers are psychological, and people may benefit from psychotherapy or counseling. These sessions may involve the individual alone or with their partner.

Other causes are physical. For example, people with an infection can experience anejaculation or retrograde ejaculation. In these cases, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics or antiviral medications.

Some medications or drugs can also cause sexual dysfunction as a side effect. For example, antidepressant use or excessive alcohol consumption could cause delayed ejaculation. Changing medications and reducing alcohol consumption can help in these situations.

In addition, certain medical procedures, such as prostate surgery, can lead to retrograde ejaculation.

People who are unable to ejaculate due to sexual dysfunction should talk to a doctor about treatment.

Some may also benefit from sex therapy. Sex therapists use a variety of techniques to help people with sexual dysfunction, including psychotherapy and mindfulness.

Other general tips that can help include:

  • avoiding excessive alcohol consumption before intercourse
  • being aware of medication side effects, which may include sexual dysfunction
  • talking to a partner about the problem
  • practicing stress management techniques
  • seeking help from a professional for mental health problems

It is normal to have problems ejaculating from time to time. People who can ejaculate occasionally are unlikely to need medical treatment. Those who intentionally avoid ejaculation also do not need further healthcare.

It is worth seeing a doctor if the problem is due to sexual dysfunction. For example, people who regularly experience issues or are unable to ejaculate at all should consult a healthcare professional.

Many causes of sexual dysfunction are psychological. Talking to a partner about these problems is one way to address these issues. A mental health professional can also help.

Not ejaculating is rarely harmful, but it depends on the cause. Some people choose not to ejaculate, such as those practicing edging. Others cannot ejaculate due to sexual dysfunction.

People should see a doctor if they consistently experience issues with ejaculation. Healthcare professionals can discuss possible treatment options.