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9 Semen Retention Benefits for Your Sex Life

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown, MD

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 06/04/2023

Updated 03/11/2024

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.

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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.

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The supposed benefits of semen retention can affect several aspects of health and have physical, spiritual and mental benefits:

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

7 Sources

  1. Dubin, J. M., Aguiar, J. A., Lin, J. S., Greenberg, D. R., Keeter, M. K., Fantus, R. J., Pham, M. N., Hudnall, M. T., Bennett, N. E., Brannigan, R. E., & Halpern, J. A. (2022). The broad reach and inaccuracy of men's health information on social media: analysis of TikTok and Instagram. International journal of impotence research, 1–5. Advance online publication. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9676765/
  2. What Is Semen Retention? Does It Have Health Benefits? (n.d.). International Society for Sexual Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.issm.info/sexual-health-qa/what-is-semen-retention-does-it-have-health-benefits
  3. Ayad, B. M., Horst, G. V., & Plessis, S. S. D. (2018). Revisiting The Relationship between The Ejaculatory Abstinence Period and Semen Characteristics. International journal of fertility & sterility, 11(4), 238–246. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5641453/
  4. Levitas, E., Lunenfeld, E., Weiss, N., Friger, M., Har-Vardi, I., Koifman, A., & Potashnik, G. (2005, June). Relationship between the duration of sexual abstinence and semen quality: analysis of 9,489 semen samples. Fertility and Sterility, 83(6), 1680-1686. Retrieved from https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282%2805%2900540-6/fulltext
  5. Martin, C., Nolen, H., Podolnick, J., & Wang, R. (2017, January). Current and emerging therapies in premature ejaculation: Where we are coming from, where we are going. International Journal of Urology, 24(1), 40-50. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/iju.13202
  6. What is the Definition of Abstinence & Outercourse? (n.d.). Planned Parenthood. Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/abstinence-and-outercourse
  7. Retrograde Ejaculation. (n.d.). Harvard Health. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/retrograde-ejaculation-a-to-z
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown, MD

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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