People with a penis may choose to temporarily or permanently block sperm from coming out when they ejaculate.
Others may have a medical condition that prevents sperm from exiting the body.
In this article, we look at why people block sperm, whether there are side effects, and when to see a doctor about ejaculation issues.
People may have a condition that prevents sperm from leaving the body, or they may choose to block ejaculate for various reasons, whether temporarily or permanently.
Blocking sperm on purpose during sex
People may delay ejaculation during edging, which is a technique to hold off an orgasm during masturbation or sex. For some people, this may make an orgasm feel more intense and pleasurable, according to the International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM).
With edging, a person reaches a level of sexual stimulation leading up to an orgasm. They then reduce stimulation to prevent the orgasm, then increase it to approach orgasm again. They can continue this cycle until they want to orgasm.
People may also use edging to help manage premature ejaculation.
They may also practice semen retention as part of tantric sex. Some techniques may involve orgasms without ejaculation, such as Karezza. This approach focuses on breathing, meditation, and certain postures and methods. The aim is to create an orgasm without ejaculation, to sustain sexual activity.
Anejaculation is when a person with a penis is unable to ejaculate semen. There are two types:
- Primary: People with a penis who have always had anejaculation
- Secondary: People with a penis who develop anejaculation, but have previously been able to ejaculate semen
According to the ISSM, causes of this condition include:
- injury, such as to the spinal cord or pelvic area
- certain medications, including antidepressants
- surgery to the pelvic area, which may affect pelvic nerves
- lymph node removal due to testicular cancer treatment
- conditions that affect the nervous system, such as Parkinson’s disease
Treating the underlying cause may help resolve anejaculation. If fertility is an issue for males with this condition, medical procedures are available to help stimulate ejaculation or extract sperm.
Retrograde ejaculation is a condition that causes semen to enter the bladder instead of leaving the body during orgasm. People with retrograde ejaculation may produce little to no semen when they orgasm.
The ISSM say retrograde ejaculation does not harm a person’s bladder or the rest of their body. The semen simply mixes with urine and leaves the body when they urinate.
Symptoms can include:
- cloudy-looking urine, due to the presence of semen
- dry orgasms, where people still feel pleasure but expel little to no semen
Damage to muscles or nerves in the pelvic area can cause retrograde ejaculation. Causes can include:
- surgery on the bladder or prostate gland
- multiple sclerosis
Doctors will need to focus on the underlying issue to manage retrograde ejaculation. One example is pseudoephedrine, a medication that may treat some cases.
Retrograde ejaculation is not harmful to someone’s health, but it affects fertility. Retrieving sperm from the urine for fertility treatments may be an option for people who want a biological child.
Some people may block sperm from coming out permanently by having a vasectomy. This surgical procedure blocks the tubes that carry sperm, stopping it from coming out during ejaculation.
Many people choose vasectomy as a form of birth control to prevent a female sexual partner from getting pregnant.
The testicles make sperm, which travels out of the scrotum through a tube called the vas deferens. During ejaculation, sperm mixes with semen and comes out through the urethra, a tube in the penis.
Semen contains around 10% sperm, with the rest consisting of:
- vitamin C
- citric acid
- fructose sugar
If sperm does not travel out by ejaculation, the body breaks down semen and reabsorbs it. It may also release the sperm during nocturnal emission, also known as a wet dream.
If people have had a vasectomy, their sperm remains inside the body and does not mix into the semen. The testes continue to produce sperm, but the body reabsorbs it.
No evidence suggests blocking sperm can cause harm or negative side effects. Unejaculated sperm is not harmful to the body and does not build up.
The body reabsorbs sperm that does not leave through ejaculation. This has no side effects on sex drive or fertility.
However, there may be possible side effects in people who delay or avoid ejaculating when sexually aroused. Epididymal hypertension is when male sexual arousal does not result in orgasm or ejaculation. People may refer to it as blue balls.
Symptoms of epididymal hypertension may include mild to severe scrotal pain.
There are several reasons why people ejaculate.
To conceive a child
Ejaculation during vaginal sex is the most common way for a male and female partner to conceive a child.
For sexual pleasure
Many people choose to ejaculate for sexual pleasure. A 2013 review looked at the link between ejaculation and male sexual pleasure. The research suggests orgasm and ejaculation are two distinct processes in the body.
It concludes that whether a person gets sexual pleasure from ejaculation is based on their subjective perception.
May reduce prostate cancer risk
Ejaculation may have certain health benefits. High occurrences of ejaculation may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
One study examines this, analyzing 31,925 male health professionals in the United States from 1992 to 2010. The participants were mostly Caucasian people aged 40–75.
They filled in a questionnaire in 1992 detailing how often they ejaculated per month at different ages. The follow-ups looked at cases of prostate cancer and the link between ejaculation frequencies.
The study found an association between more frequent ejaculation and a reduced risk of prostate cancer. However, researchers need to study this topic further.
Ejaculation may not affect sperm quality
A 2015 study looked at how ejaculation frequency affects sperm quality. The study concludes that daily ejaculation across 2 weeks had no negative effect on sperm function or quality.
If people experience problems or unusual symptoms related to ejaculating, they may want to see a healthcare professional.
People should consult a doctor if:
- they have blood in their semen
- ejaculation or sexual problems affect their mental and emotional health
- they want to have a biological child, but they experience difficulty ejaculating
A medical professional can look into a person’s medical and sexual history, perform a physical examination, and run any necessary tests to find underlying issues.
People may intentionally block sperm from coming out to prolong a sexual experience.
Some medical conditions may cause problems with ejaculating.
People may also choose to have a vasectomy, a procedure that prevents sperm from coming out during ejaculation.
There appears to be no evidence to suggest that blocking sperm from coming out is harmful. The body reabsorbs any sperm that does not leave the body.
If people have concerns about their fertility or sexual health, they can consult a doctor.