You’ve heard of “shooting blanks” – this is where your semen contains little or no sperm. Retrograde ejaculation takes it a step further – this is a condition where a man “shoots nothing at all”. This is also referred to as a “dry orgasm”. In other words, even though you’ve reached orgasm, you’re not ejaculating any semen (and therefore not likely to be able to impregnate your lady). What’s happening?!?
What is it?
When this happens, you’re actually still producing semen, it’s just getting shot back into your bladder rather than ejaculated. As you probably already know, your urethra transports both urine and semen out of your body. There are muscles at the base of your bladder (aka your urethral sphincter) that are responsible for preventing urine from entering the urethra during an orgasm so that you are ejaculating pure semen (urine is very acidic and can damage sperm). At the same time, these muscles also prevent your semen from entering the bladder so that it can be transported out through the urethra. If these muscles don’t constrict, your semen will be shot back into the urethra, causing a “dry orgasm”.
Is it dangerous?
No. The only real problem is that it causes infertility as your sperm are not being ejaculated into your partner. You may find that your urine after your orgasm is a bit cloudy – this is because the sperm has mixed with your urine and is now being expelled at the same time.
What causes it?
Some of the leading causes include:
- Medications for high blood pressure, heart disease, or prostate enlargement
- Prostate surgery
- Multiple sclerosis, or other conditions that can cause nerve damage
- Surgeries that have impacted the bladder muscles
What can I do about it?
If medications are causing the condition, many times simply stopping the medication or switching to a new medication can take care of the problem. If it’s a surgical cause, sometimes doctors can prescribe medications that will help strengthen the muscles and restore normal function. Urologists are also sometimes able to perform minimally-invasive surgeries to strengthen the bladder muscles. It’s best to see your doctor if you think you may be experiencing this condition.
Can I still father a child?
Yes. Even if doctors are unable to restore normal ejaculation, there are many ways that they can harvest your sperm and achieve fertilization. Sometimes they are able to rescue the sperm from your urine following a retrograde ejaculation, wash the sperm, and perform intrauterine insemination (IUI). They may suggest taking pills (such as sodium bicarbonate) to reduce the acidity of the uterine and therefore preserve more healthy and vitale sperm. And the procedures for harvesting sperm directly from the testes have become much more routine and can be used successfully for conception.
1. T.R. Aust and D.I. Lewis-Jones. “Retrograde ejaculation and male infertility.” Hosp Med. 2004 65(6):361-4.
2. “Retrograde ejaculation” Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/retrograde-ejaculation/DS00913
3. C. Whelan. “Retrograde ejaculation and male infertility.” The Examiner, March 24 2012. http://www.examiner.com/article/retrograde-ejaculation-and-male-infertility