What is semen retention?
Semen retention is the practice of avoiding ejaculation.
You can do this by abstaining from sexual activity altogether, of course. Or you can learn how to orgasm without ejaculating.
Although it may sound like some wild new fad, the practice is probably as old as humankind.
People have different reasons for trying it, from physical to emotional to spiritual.
Keep reading as we explore some of the potential benefits of semen retention, how it’s done, and whether research supports the theories behind it.
Semen retention might seem like a modern concept, but it’s only because websites and forums have made it easier to discuss such things openly.
In reality, it’s an idea that’s been around a long time and is actually part of some ancient practices.
People give a variety of reasons for their interest in semen retention, including the belief that frequent ejaculation weakens you.
Some say that semen retention improves fertility, sexual pleasure, or physical health.
Many believe that sperm retention helps redirect sexual energies to other areas of life, or that it improves emotional health and spiritual growth.
For some, it’s the ultimate journey of self-control.
The word “NoFap” is often used in the same context as semen retention, but it’s not really the same thing.
NoFap is the name of an organization, and Nofap.com is its associated community-based porn recovery website.
NoFap.com’s “about” section explains that NoFap is not a verb, a principle, or a movement.
Its stated purpose is providing information and community support to help people who want to recover from compulsive sexual behavior and improve their relationships.
So, while it might be part of the discussion, NoFap’s focus is on breaking the dependence on porn, not specifically on semen retention.
Some other names for semen retention are:
- coitus reservatus
- seminal conservation
- sexual continence
It’s also part of practices such as:
People point toward a variety of benefits to semen retention, such as:
- more confidence and self-control
- less anxiety and depression
- increased motivation
- better memory, concentration, and overall cognitive function
- greater vitality
- increased muscle growth
- thicker hair, deeper voice
- improved sperm quality
- deeper relationships
- stronger life force
- better overall happiness
It’s a complicated, multifaceted topic, and research is lacking. Not having enough research doesn’t mean all claims are false, though.
It does mean that additional research and longer-term studies are needed to reach firm conclusions about specific claims.
Here are a few published studies:
- In 2018, researchers conducted a systematic review, a studyTrusted Source of studies on the length of ejaculatory abstinence and semen characteristics. They noted the varied quality and limited nature of existing studies. Evidence suggests that an abstinence period of less than a day, rather than a longer abstinence period, is linked to improvement in sperm motility.
- Reporting in a 2007 animal study, researchers found that androgen receptors in the brain, which help your body make use of testosterone, were lower with frequent masturbation.
- In a small 2003 studyTrusted Source, researchers documented a link between ejaculation and changes in serum testosterone levels. Among the 28 volunteers, testosterone levels peaked on the seventh day of abstinence.
- A small 2001 studyTrusted Source found elevated testosterone levels in participants who abstained from masturbation for three weeks.
- In a 2000 studyTrusted Source of male athletes, researchers found that sexual activity didn’t have a detrimental effect on athletic performance, but having intercourse two hours before a competition could.
There doesn’t appear to be evidence that semen retention is risky to physical or emotional health. If you feel good about it, carry on.
You can abstain from sex or you can learn to have an orgasm without ejaculating.
It takes a lot of muscle control, so get in the habit of doing Kegel exercises. Flexing your pelvic muscles just before ejaculation is key.
The Mayo Clinic offers these exercise techniques:
- Locate your pelvic floor muscles. Stop urinating midstream or tighten the muscles that keep you from passing gas. Now you have a sense of where those muscles are.
- You can do these exercises while lying down, sitting, standing, or even walking.
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles. Hold for three seconds, then relax for three seconds.
- Focus on contracting your pelvic floor muscles only. Keep the muscles in your buttocks, thighs, and abdomen relaxed. Breathe freely.
- Do this in sets of 10, at least 3 times a day, to build muscle control.
During vaginal, anal, or oral sex, you’ll need to maintain control over your muscles. UKaskmen.com offers these suggestions:
- Let go of tension in the jaw, buttocks, and legs. Learn to relax and avoid an excess build-up of energy in the pelvis.
- As orgasm approaches, take long, deep breaths. Try holding perfectly still for a few moments to calm your body. Put your attention on the other person.
According to Brojo.org, at this point you can apply pressure on the area between the anus and scrotum (perineum). This can cause retrograde ejaculation, a process that sends ejaculate into the bladder instead of out the penis. It doesn’t stop the orgasm.
However, UKaskmen.com notes that retrograde ejaculation may not be the way to get “positive, flowing energy.”
Nateliason.com says that when you hit the point of no return, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles as if you’re doing Kegels, open your eyes, and stop stroking to achieve a dry orgasm. At first, you might be too early or too late, as it takes time and practice.
There’s no right or wrong way. It may simply depend on what you’re trying to achieve or what feels right to you.
It’s a very personal matter. Consider your reasons for practicing semen retention and what you hope to gain.
If it’s working for you, there doesn’t appear to be any harm in continuing. If it’s not, you can stop at any time.
It’s going to take discipline and a certain amount of practice to learn semen retention.
Masturbation won’t hurt you, nor will it affect your ability to produce sperm. And it may help to practise on your own before trying it with a partner. Again, it’s a matter of personal preference.
Make sure your leg and buttock muscles don’t get rigid. Take deep breaths to help keep your muscles relaxed. Pay attention to your body’s signals. Learn to recognize your level of arousal and what it feels like just before an orgasm.
Here are a few approaches to holding off orgasm:
- When you feel orgasm approaching, squeeze the end of your penis where the head joins the shaft. Maintain that squeeze for a few seconds while the urge to ejaculate passes. Repeat as necessary.
- With your fingers, apply pressure to your perineum. Practice will help you pinpoint the right spot to trigger retrograde ejaculation.
You’ll want to be on the same wavelength, so talk to your partner first.
Discuss what you want to do and how they can help. Ask how this will affect their pleasure, what they’re willing to do, and what they’re not willing to do.
Basically, have a conversation about boundaries and achieving each other’s desires.
To ask questions about the potential health benefits or harms of semen retention, talk to a primary care doctor or urologist.
If you’re interested in learning more, here are some popular books on Amazon to get you started:
- “Taoist Secrets of Love: Cultivating Male Sexual Energy” by Mantak Chia
- “The Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity: A Modern Practical Guide to the Ancient Way” by Daniel P. Reid
- “Tantric Sex for Men: Making Love a Meditation” by Diana Richardson and Michael Richardson