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What is Retrograde Ejaculation?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Retrograde ejaculation refers to a condition in men where ejaculate or sperm does not always exit the penis during orgasm. Instead, the sperm ends up in the bladder, and amount of semen is low. Another term that may be used more commonly to describe this phenomenon is dry orgasm.

Symptoms of retrograde ejaculation include small amount of semen during ejaculation, and cloudy urine after orgasm. Men may also note difficulty in helping a female partner conceive children, because the amount of semen that leaves the penis is minimal. Some people report less pleasurable sensation upon orgasm too, though this isn’t always the case. Diagnosing this condition is fairly simple, usually involving physical exam of the genitals, and analysis of urine after ejaculation.

What’s really happening when retrograde ejaculation occurs is that the muscle in the opening of the bladder, called the bladder neck muscle, doesn't tighten as needed to prevent semen flow into the bladder. The reason for this can be varied. Some medications for mood disorders, like tranquilizers might cause bladder neck muscles to remain loose, and some medical conditions like nerve damage resulting from diabetes may result in dry orgasm. Injury to the bladder, the spine, removal of the bladder or prostate may cause this condition too.

Treatment depends upon cause and desired outcome. Some men are aided by switching to a medication that does not cause retrograde ejaculation. If diabetes is the primary cause, then getting symptoms under control may help end the condition. Some men might require surgery and others may not be able to fix the condition if there has been permanent injury in the pelvis or the spine. In certain cases, successful treatment occurs by using a variety of medications that may help tighten the bladder neck so more semen exits the penis. Even if treatment is not possible, though sexual pleasure could be slightly diminished, this condition does not cause erectile dysfunction, inability to have an orgasm, or inability to maintain an erection.

For many men, the primary trouble with retrograde ejaculation is that it results in infertility. Thus treatment, if it cannot fix the problem may also involve fertility treatments for a couple trying to conceive. Doctors may be able to collect sperm from the urine or the bladder and use it in artificial insemination, to help a couple conceive.

When men notice low semen levels upon ejaculation or when couples have been trying to get pregnant for over a year without success, retrograde ejaculation may be one of the things for which doctors test. If men suspect it, they should speak with doctors. Underlying causes may require medical treatment. Though not always a sign of poor health, dry orgasm may suggest health conditions that should be evaluated.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon192333 — On Jun 30, 2011

Bryan, there isn't much that can be done about the ejaculation, however, for the urine leakage, there is a procedure called the "advance male sling" that uses a mesh to pull up on the urethra to close the leak. I had the same problem for a year following prostate surgery. The "sling" stopped the leakage completely. Good luck!

By anon174856 — On May 11, 2011

I have had this condition my whole life and never knew what it was until I was in Iraq with the military and saw a specialist there. She told me it was retro-ejaculation and prescribed me Uroxitrol which helped at first but then quickly stopped working. Any thoughts?

By anon153766 — On Feb 18, 2011

i had a laser surgery on the urethra and now have this condition along with leakages and dripping. it's going on 6 months now and i have gotten no relief. what can be done? bryan

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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