There is a boatload of misinformation—as well as completely glossed-over facts—that young adults are missing out on when it comes to sex.
Take “dry orgasms”—a phenomenon in which a man orgasms but doesn’t ejaculate—and something this particular writer had never heard about until his editor told him to write about it for money. Imagine that! All huff but no stuff. All yell and no gel. All scream, no cream.
From a long night of sex to side effects from medication, there are actually quite a few reasons a man’s penis might skip the grand finale of its orgasm. So, WTF exactly is a dry orgasm and how worried should you be if it happens to you? We asked some sexperts to help us define this largely unknown phenomenon and quell our fears.
“There’s not a lot of research on this subject,” says social psychologist and human sexuality expert Dr. Justin Lehmiller, author of the forthcoming book, Tell Me What You Want.
“However there are a lot of reasons why men might experience dry orgasms," Lehmiller explains. "For example, among men who report experiences with multiple orgasms (i.e., when they have several orgasms in a short period of time), the quantity of semen released tends to decrease with each orgasm to the point where little or no semen may be released upon later orgasms." He adds that some men may experience what’s known as retrograde ejaculation, where their semen is "pushed into the bladder instead of being expelled from the body" when they orgasm. While some medications can cause retrograde ejaculation, an enlarged prostate or diabetes could also be the culprit.
Should I panic?
One study investigated the impact of Silodosin—a urinary retention medication—on a double-blind crossover study of 50 guys to see how alpha1A-adrenoceptor antagonists like Silodosin affect ejaculation.
What the study found was that medicines like Silodosin can indeed cause abnormal ejaculation in which little to no semen is discharged. The big question is: should guys be worried about this? Well, yes and no.
The study also concluded that the sensation of semen passing through the urethra “may contribute to the subjective pleasure of orgasm,” meaning those experiencing dry orgasms aren’t necessarily getting the utmost enjoyment out of it.
“Dry orgasms are not harmful in and of themselves,” continues Dr. Lehmiller, “even when they result from retrograde ejaculation, the semen will just be released later during urination.”
What can I do?
Some guys out there (e.g. fuckboys) might find relief that they don't have to worry about semen and all the side effects related to unprotected sex, like certain STIs and babies. (These men are idiots who should be using protection either way). However, for the men out there actually interested in procreation, a dry orgasm is the exact opposite of what they’re hoping to achieve during sex.
“This is obviously problematic for men who are trying to father children,” says Dr. Lehmiller. "Persistent dry orgasms will make it difficult for a man to reproduce. So if you and your partner are trying to get pregnant and you have dry orgasms, it’d be worth seeing a fertility specialist for treatment. Even if fertility isn’t a concern, though, you may still want to get checked out by a doctor if this becomes a recurring issue to ensure there isn’t some underlying medical condition that needs to be treated.”
So what can a normal dude do to ensure his semen situation is as healthy as possible? Jamin Brahmbhatt, MD, Urologist Orlando Health weighs in:
“It’s hard to naturally up your semen production,” says Dr. Brahmbhatt, “plus if you are trying to match what’s in adult films—don’t waste your time—a lot of that is editing. The reality probably is that you are okay and just fine. Avoid supplements that advertise themselves as semen boosters since there is no good research backing the claims." You can also try waiting and not orgasming for awhile. "The longer you wait the more you are likely to see since the reserves are being filled up while you are abstaining,” Brahmbhatt adds.
Stressing about semen isn’t something guys should harp on—in fact, as long as you’re keeping a relatively healthy diet and not smoking, you’ll be fine. If you do experience a dry orgasm that isn’t the result of a marathon sex session or side effect from a medication, don’t be a hero—just go to the doctor.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.