Does Semen Retention Work?
Often called “sperm retention”, semen retention is simply the act of not allowing ejaculate to leave your body. Most people believe it’s not ejaculating at all, while some people think semen retention is the act of ejaculating, and forcing the semen back into your body by closing the urethra. This second method can be painful. Either way, the goal is semen not leaving the body.
Pros of Semen Retention
Many men who practice semen retention report a broad range of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits. They talk in terms of discipline – almost the same way an ultra-marathon runner or a free solo climber might. This form of self-denial takes dedication, focus, commitment and training. But is it worth it?
Let’s disregard the fact that there’s virtually no scientific research that backs these claims and even some that show that semen retention carries possible risks (we’ll get to those shortly). For now, we’ll focus on the positive.
Physical – The elite-athlete-level health benefits that men attribute to semen retention include weight loss, increased energy, increased muscle mass, less hair loss, higher sperm quality, clearer skin, increased testosterone levels, greater stamina, increased vitality and a deeper voice.
Mental – Some men say that their minds are clearer when they abstain from ejaculation. They report increased concentration and focus, less anxiety and depression, better memory, more self-confidence, more self-discipline and increased motivation.
Emotional – It seems wholly counterintuitive that not ejaculating would reduce a person’s stress and anxiety levels, but that’s exactly what semen retention practitioners claim. They also say that their moods are better and that they’re happier in general. Many men say that they feel a greater sense of accomplishment because they were able to successfully exhibit self-control.
Spiritual – In ancient sexual practices and texts, such as tantric sex and the Kama Sutra, sex is elevated to a religious level. Following in their ancestors’ footsteps, modern-day semen retention gurus do so because they say they experience spiritual growth, deeper and more meaningful relationships as well as a stronger connection to the universe and others.
Cons of Semen Retention
The general narrative around the semen retention trend is that there are many potential upsides with no downsides. But that may not be entirely true. While there is little scientific research to support the benefits of not cumming, there is some supporting evidence that the opposite, ejaculating frequently, is good for you. We posted an article previously that goes into detail about the benefits of orgasms, but we’ll also give you the high-level summary here.
In the pro-cum category, regular ejaculation may reduce the incidence of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in the U.S. It’s estimated that there will be close to 268,490 new cases of prostate cancer in 2022 with around 34,500 deaths. Statistics show that as many as 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point, and as many as 1 in 41 men will die from the disease.
One study by Harvard University followed 32,000 men over the course of 18 years and found that men in their 20s who ejaculated more (at least 21 times per month) were 19 percent less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than those who ejaculated seven times per month or less. Men in their 40s who ejaculated more often were found to be 22 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer.
In addition to the lowered cancer risk, ejaculating releases feel-good chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and prolactin. Plus, it’s thought that releasing semen can flush toxins, impurities and carcinogens from the prostate as well as expel sperm with damaged DNA. One study showed that ejaculating once a day for seven days increased sperm quality for 80 percent of the men involved in the research.
Is Semen Retention The Same As NoFap?
It’s important to note here that while it’s similar, the practice of semen retention should not be confused with NoFap. NoFap is an online movement that encourages users to abstain from sex and masturbation in order to recover from porn addiction and treat sexual dysfunction.
As we’ve discussed before, porn addiction is not recognized as a real disorder according to the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) – the bible that mental health providers use to diagnose patients. There is also no scientific proof that porn causes sexual dysfunction.
In internet speak, “fap” is the sound that’s made when a man masturbates. NoFap was born of the internet, and as it has in many online communities, toxicity has proliferated on NoFap message boards. The site has received harsh criticism from sex-positive advocates who say that NoFap is guilty of sex-shaming and perpetuating harmful and misogynistic stereotypes.