Reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Wondering about semen retention benefits? We have all the details.
It might seem like there’s a new trend involving sexual practices every day. But while the online fad of semen retention may be new to you, holding out on ejaculating has become increasingly popular, thanks to purported benefits for your sex life.
While many people with penises enjoy the sensation and release they experience when they orgasm, some purposely deny themselves by reducing their ejaculation frequency.
While browsing the Internet, you might come across guys passionate about semen retention effects and the power of sperm retention, claiming that avoiding ejaculation has potential health benefits.
But is there actual science behind these supposed semen retention benefits? Are there physical benefits of not ejaculating for a year or a shorter period?
Here's what you need to know about semen retention, including the potential benefits and risks.
First off, what is semen retention? Colloquially referred to as “blue balls,” semen retention is the practice of avoiding ejaculation, either regular ejaculation or frequent ejaculation, during an abstinence period.
Semen retention benefits have grown in popularity, thanks in part to social media. But sexual continence is actually an ancient practice that dates back hundreds (if not thousands) of years when some cultures considered the loss of semen to be a threat to one’s health.
Another trend that might come up in the same context as semen retention is NoFap. This practice is different from semen retention, however, in that it advocates for abstinence from masturbation and sexual practices to treat porn addiction and pornography-induced sexual dysfunction.
While semen retention and NoFap have different objectives, they both promote periods of abstinence as a means of achieving sexual health benefits.
Curious about what these semen retention benefits are? Keep reading to learn more.
The supposed benefits of semen retention can affect several aspects of health and have physical, spiritual and mental benefits:
Reduced erectile dysfunction (ED)
More sexual energy
A general increase in energy levels
More restful sleep
Overall better mood and happiness
Improved fertility and sperm count
Elevated serum testosterone levels
Does semen retention increase testosterone? Unfortunately, there’s currently no conclusive evidence that one of the sperm retention benefits is an increase in testosterone levels.
Another claim of semen retention is that purposefully abstaining from ejaculation could improve sperm quality. A 2018 review of studies suggested that an abstinence period of less than a day (rather than a longer abstinence period) is linked to improvement in sperm motility. However, the studies varied in quality and were limited.
Interestingly enough, there may be potential benefits of ejaculating regularly regarding sperm quality. A study of over 9,400 sperm samples found that samples collected after more than two days of abstinence were lower in sperm count and motility.
Still, research supporting semen retention benefits is incredibly limited, and the claims are merely anecdotal from social media and Internet forums. To know if these sperm retention benefits are true, more research and longer-term studies are needed.
Is semen retention healthy, or are there negative effects of semen retention?
Though the benefits of semen retention need more research, the practice doesn’t appear to pose any risks to a person’s physical or mental health.
However, there are benefits of ejaculating for mental and physical health. The numerous health benefits of ejaculation include stress relief, improved sleep, increased focus and better cognitive function.
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Semen retention can take on different forms. Some people may practice a period of abstinence from all sexual activity, stop sexual activity prior to ejaculation or practice achieving an orgasm without ejaculation.
A few methods of semen retention are:
Abstinence. Abstinence is refraining from all sexual activity, which can mean different things to different people. It might be with or without a partner, only refraining from certain sexual activities or something else entirely.
Edging. Edging is coming right up to the point of orgasm, then stopping. It’s been practiced as a way to treat premature ejaculation. To try edging, learn what it feels like before you orgasm while masturbating or having sex so you know when to stop sexual activity.
Retrograde ejaculation. This method also takes a lot of self-control and paying attention to your body. Retrograde ejaculation is when semen is diverted back up into the bladder rather than out through the penis during orgasm. Although not harmful to your health, retrograde ejaculation could lead to infertility.
Dating back to ancient times and growing in popularity today, the practice of semen retention is abstaining or preventing yourself from ejaculating. People practice this in many ways, from full-on abstinence from any sexual intercourse to swearing off Internet pornography to trying techniques of reaching orgasm while not ejaculating.
Those who support this practice often claim there are several semen retention benefits, such as improved mood, a boost in energy and reduced sexual dysfunction, to name a few.
However, the research on semen retention is very limited, and the claims made about the benefits of semen retention are likely based on an individual’s personal experience, not scientific research. That said, there are no known risks if you want to try semen retention.
If you’re looking for treatment options for premature ejaculation, there are scientifically-proven options. Medications are one option, with sertraline for premature ejaculation among the most common treatments.
You can also try a topical spray or cream that contains anesthetics, such as lidocaine or prilocaine, to alter the sensitivity of your penis.