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Semen Retention: The Science, Benefits, Effects & More

Dr R. Y. Langham

Aug 01, 2022

You have been struggling with porn addiction for a while and have tried numerous porn addiction treatments, ranging from porn addiction therapies, medications (SSRIs), lifestyle changes (i.e., moving your electronic devices to open areas like your living room or kitchen, installing anti-porn software on all of your electronic devices, etc.), and even attending hypnotherapy/hypnosis sessions, but nothing has worked. You are frustrated and tired of trying to break free of porn – with no real results. 

You feel like a hamster constantly spinning on a wheel – never getting anywhere. Because the “traditional” porn addiction treatments have failed to yield noticeable results, you are considering going an alternative, holistic route. You have researched semen retention, and it appears to have produced some amazing results for some male porn addicts. The more you think about it, the more you are starting to realize this may be the missing puzzle piece in your porn addiction treatment plan. Maybe, what you need is to think outside of the box. Maybe, your habit requires a different approach – an approach like semen retention. It is worth a try, right?

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What is Semen Retention?

Semen retention is an ancient practice believed to increase spiritual, emotional, and physical energies. When a male intentionally avoids ejaculating, this is called semen retention. Abstaining from sexual activities, such as foreplay, sexual intercourse, and/or watching porn and masturbating, and then stopping right before ejaculating – or teaching yourself how to have an orgasm without ejaculating semen – are considered semen retention practices. Surprisingly, little was known about semen retention until recently.

In recent years, as younger men have started to develop sexual dysfunctions, like premature ejaculation (PE), impotence, erectile dysfunction (ED), porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED), and/or performance anxiety, this natural treatment approach has skyrocketed. More and more people are looking for holistic or natural treatment approaches to help them with their sexual issues.

What is the Origin of Semen Retention?

Although most people think semen retention is a new practice, it has actually been around and practiced for a very long time. 

This practice has been and still is used for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • To treat a weakened body due to frequent ejaculation
  • To improve a man’s fertility, sexual pleasure, and physical health by preventing the release of semen
  • To improve a man’s emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical health 
  • To offer a new direction for a man’s sexual energy
  • To foster self-control and strengthen a man’s willpower

Is Semen Retention the Same Thing as NoFap?

No, it is not. 

The term, “NoFap,” is often used interchangeably with “semen retention,” but it is not the same thing. NoFap is the name of a community-based organization, website, and forum. Understand, however, that NoFap is not a worldwide movement, rather, it is a personal journey toward porn and masturbation freedom. 

The purpose of NoFap is to provide users with valuable information, community support, and advice as they battle their porn addictions and chronic masturbation issues. Thus, the goal is to help porn addicts and chronic masturbators stop compulsive sexual behaviors and improve their relationships. Ultimately, NoFap’s focus is on quitting porn, while semen retention’s focus is on preventing ejaculation.

Can Semen Retention Be Used to Treat Porn Addiction?

Yes, semen retention can be used to treat porn addiction. 

Porn addiction is an inability to stop using porn. Although many men (and women) view porn from time to time, when porn takes over your life and affects your self-esteem, job opportunities, and stability, damages or destroys your relationships and friendships, and causes you to go into debt, it is a problem – one that likely requires porn addiction help. Most porn addicts get to a point where they want to stop using porn, but try as they might, this proves to be an impossible task – without porn addiction support.

Porn addicts have no control over their “porn use,” which can be, and often is embarrassing for them. How do these individuals react to this inability to stop their “porn use?” They hide it from others or they deny that they have a problem. In other words, they pretend like excessively viewing porn is no big deal – when it is. 

Porn addiction can be devastating to not just the addict, but to the people, who love and care about him or her. It can wreak romantic relationships, fracture friendships, and destroy families. It can make partners of the addict feel “less than,” unattractive, and undesirable. It can also make partners feel lied to and betrayed. What most people do not realize is that porn is powerful, and once it grabs hold of you, it will not let go – without reinforcements like porn addiction treatment.

Lifestyle changes like installing anti-porn blockers on your electronic devices, sharing your concerns with someone you trust, staying busy, focusing on a healthier alternative, getting plenty of exercise and sleep, consuming a healthy diet – devoid of junk and processed foods, and spending time with friends and loved ones can support a porn addiction treatment plan. Porn addiction is usually treated with therapy, medications, lifestyle changes, self-help tools, like Stop Together, a porn addiction recovery treatment program, and natural remedies – like semen retention.

Semen retention helps porn addiction by improving sexual experiences with a real-life partner. By stopping sex play before ejaculation, porn addicts, who suffer from sexual dysfunction, like erectile dysfunction, can last longer or “perform” better in the bedroom. Semen retention can also re-spark sexual attraction for a partner, thereby taking the focus off of porn and putting it back on their partner. Because semen retention is designed to enhance a man’s spiritual and physical energies, males who engage in this practice do not have to rely on porn to “energize” or “excite” them.

What Are Some Benefits of Semen Retention for Male Porn Addicts?

There are many possible reasons a male may want to withhold his semen. For instance, porn addicts may try to avoid ejaculating if they are struggling with PIED or if they are trying to conquer their porn addiction and boost their desire for their real-life partners.

Some of the possible benefits of semen retention include the following:

  • Increased Motivation
  • Improved Energy, Concentration, & Focus
  • Higher Self-Esteem & Self-Confidence
  • Less Anxiety
  • Better Memory
  • Clearer Skin
  • Higher Testosterone Level
  • Weight Loss
  • Increased Muscle Mass
  • Physical Revitalization
  • A Deeper Voice
  • A Greater Sense of Purpose
  • Stronger and Deeper Emotional Bonds with Others
  • An Overall Sense of Peace & Harmony

Note: Edging is a semen retention practice that can help male porn addicts better enjoy their sexual activities with real-life people. Edging involves engaging in sexual stimulation (i.e., foreplay) to the point of orgasming only to stop abruptly before orgasming. Only to start again after a specified time. Experts suggest that edging may help increase the intensity of orgasms in some recovering male porn addicts.

Other possible benefits of semen retention include the following:

  • Increased Fertility – Some male porn addicts, who are trying to conceive with their real-life opposite-sex partners, may experience a bonus of increased fertility when using semen retention to help with their porn addiction. Some porn addicts swear that semen retention improved their sperm quality, thereby, also increasing their fertility. Keep in mind that there is little-to-no research in this area.

    According to a 2005 study, all it takes is one full day of ejaculatory abstinence to reap the benefits of semen retention. Researchers also found that exceeding 10 days of ejaculatory abstinence can be detrimental to a male’s fertility. And, according to a 2018 study, going over 4 days of ejaculatory abstinence can harm sperm quality. According to other researchers, shorter ejaculatory abstinence or semen retention is better for sperm quality than longer periods.

  • More Intense Orgasms – Semen retention or withholding your semen can lead to more intense orgasms with real-life partners. This is especially important if you are trying to kick a porn habit. If you are struggling with PIED or porn addiction, practicing semen retention can boost your libido and have you lusting after a flesh-and-blood partner. The hope is that by making your orgasms more intense you will be compelled to seek sexual satisfaction in the real world instead of on-screen with mostly paid actors. In other words, the theory is that the intensity of your real-life orgasms (i.e., sensations) will be enough to overcome the “high” you get from masturbating to porn.
  • Premature Ejaculation Support – One of the good things about semen retention is that it can help with a variety of sexual issues, like premature ejaculation (PE). People, especially male porn addicts, who suffer from PE, tend to tout the benefits of using edging (a semen retention practice). In the case of PE, edging can help prolong sexual activities and satisfaction.

    Two of the most popular semen retention/edging techniques used for PE are the “Start-Stop” technique and the “Squeeze” method. These semen retention/edging practices involve “stimulating” the penis (i.e., rubbing, caressing, etc.), until the male is about to orgasm, and then suddenly stopping or squeezing the penis until the feeling or urge to ejaculate fades.

Is Semen Retention Safe and Effective for Male Porn Addicts?

The jury is still out when it comes to if semen retention is safe and effective for male porn addicts.

The truth is there has been little-to-no research on if semen retention is healthy or safe. So, it is unknown if semen retention is clinically safe and effective for men with sexual issues, like PIED. If a male deliberately prevents or avoids ejaculating, his body will metabolize the semen, so it is reabsorbed into his body.

But because there has not been scientific evidence that semen retention is unhealthy, dangerous, or ineffective for men with sexual issues, including male porn addicts, who must masturbate to ejaculate, many males use this method to help regain their “sexual mojo.” These males tout the benefits of semen retention when all other methods have failed.

What Are The Risks or Side Effects of Semen Retention?

Semen retention appears to be a lot safer than SSRIs and other antidepressants, MAOIs, etc.

Still, it is important to be informed of the possible risks of semen retention, such as:

  • Epididymal Hypertension – Epididymal hypertension, also referred to as “blue balls,” tends to occur when a male becomes extremely sexually aroused but does not ejaculate or orgasm (releases the sexual tension). Epididymal hypertension is an uncomfortable condition that causes intense aching and pain in a male’s testicles when prolonged sexual arousal occurs – without ejaculation.

    The achiness and pain stem from an accumulation of blood in the testicles – as a result of intense and prolonged stimulation and arousal. Some researchers suggest that “blue balls” is a harmless condition that typically occurs in young adult males. This condition is usually treated by reducing sexual arousal and/or ejaculating more frequently.

  • Ejaculation Problems – Ejaculation problems can occur in porn users and non-porn users. These problems typically arise when a male continuously prevents himself from ejaculating or orgasming. For instance, a man may be unable to orgasm or ejaculate when he wants to, become “limp” before being able to orgasm or ejaculate, or ejaculate or orgasm too early or too late.

    Withholding ejaculation can also affect “porn users” because it could counteract efforts to experience more orgasms with real-life people, leading to sexual dysfunction, like PIED. Practicing semen retention too long can also lead to retrograde ejaculation or a condition that causes semen to return to the bladder.

How Does Semen Retention Work?

Semen retention involves tightening your pelvic muscles right before you are about to ejaculate. Preventing ejaculation while sexually aroused is no easy feat. It requires a tremendous amount of muscle control. 

You can build muscle control, by doing the following things:

  • Locate your pelvic floor muscles. Then, stop urinating midway. Next, tighten the muscles located in your lower back that prevent you from passing gas. You can practice this exercise while sitting, standing, or lying down. 
  • Next, contract your pelvic floor muscles. Hold the contraction for 2-3 seconds. Then, relax your muscles, and move on to the next step. Only contract your pelvic muscles. Relax your other muscles, and breathe deeply. 
  • Do 10 repetitions of this exercise, at least 3x a day to build muscle control. When you feel an orgasm approaching, take long, deep breaths, and stay perfectly still for 3-5 seconds. Focus on your partner during this time. 
  • Next, apply pressure to the area between your anus and scrotum. This will cause semen to flow back toward your bladder.
  • Lastly, squeeze your pelvic muscles, and stop stroking the area between your anus and scrotum. This will allow you to have a “dry orgasm.” Keep in mind that it may take a while for you to “perfect” the “dry orgasms” concept.

What Does Science Say About Semen Retention?

Truth be told, there are little-to-no studies on semen retention or semen retention and porn addiction, which means it is hard to prove its authenticity. The semen retention studies that do exist show promise as a possible alternative porn addiction treatment. Still, more research is needed to definitively determine if semen retention is beneficial for people with porn addiction or other health concerns.

Listed below are semen retention studies:

  • According to a 2018 study, practicing semen retention for just one day improves sperm mobility more than practicing it for 30, 60, or 90 days. 
  • A 2007 study found that frequent, excessive, or chronic masturbation can lead to a lower production and release of the androgen receptors that are used for testosterone.
  • Researchers found that testosterone levels peak on the 7th day of semen retention in some men. 
  • A 2001 study suggests that men, who retain semen for at least three weeks, experience an increase in testosterone. 
  • Lastly, researchers found that “withholding sperm” did not have a negative impact on male athletes. However, having sexual intercourse two hours before an athletic competition did have a negative effect on these athletes.

What Does a Semen Retention Timeline Look Like?

If you are new to semen retention you are probably wondering what a semen retention timeline may look like. 

If so, you are in luck, because listed below is a sample timeline that you can use to practice this exercise: 

Stage 1 (Days 1-7)

<pYou are more likely to experience a relapse during these days. In fact, more than 90% of men relapse during this time, however, if you can get to day 7, you will start to see some benefits of “withholding your semen.” Some of the benefits you may experience are longer and more sound sleep, more strength, endurance, and stamina, less acne and clearer skin, strong muscle, better sexual performance, and healthier hair. Keep in mind, however, that you may experience a “flatline” during this time, which may cause you to believe that it is not working – it is even if you cannot see it. So, keep going.

Stage 2 (Days 8-14)

During Stage 2, you are more likely to experience a “flatline,” however, you may also experience some significant changes in yourself and in your life, such as improved focus, concentration, and self-awareness, a higher self-esteem and self-confidence, and more energy. During this time, you may feel refreshed and revitalized.

Try not to relapse during this time. When urges to view porn arise and masturbate, busy yourself. More specifically, get out of the house and do something productive like going to the gym and working out, visiting a friend or family member, going for a job, etc. If you relapse at this stage, you will have to start all over again, which will make you feel lousy.

Stage 3 (Days 15-30)

This last stage is usually the hardest stage. Try not to relapse at this stage as well, especially if you want to reap all of the benefits of semen retention, such as a deeper voice, more attractiveness (i.e., more dates), a deeper connection with your partner, improved sexual dysfunction, more exciting and satisfying sexual experiences, etc.

How Long Should You Practice Semen Retention?

Truthfully, there is no “magic number of days” that you should practice semen retention to reap its benefits, however, most people practice it for 90 days. Keep in mind that this time can be tweaked to fit your needs and preferences. Also, adopting a healthy diet while practicing semen retention can boost its benefits. Ultimately, semen retention can be practiced for as long as you like just as long as it does not cause discomfort or pain.

Is Semen Retention Healthy?

The jury is still out as to if semen retention is healthy.

Truthfully, there is not much scientific evidence on if “withholding sperm” is healthy or unhealthy. While some people believe that preventing ejaculation is inherently unhealthy, however, some studies suggest that the opposite is true. When a man ejaculates, his body releases endorphins, which are the hormones that can help block pain.

But, when a man holds his semen for a long time, semen retention can help improve the following aspects of his life:

  • Physical Health

  • Mental Health

  • Emotional Health

  • Spiritual Health

According to a 2018 study, shorter ejaculatory abstinence (24 hours or less) may substantially improve sperm motility, which is beneficial for men, who are experiencing low velocity and motility. Ejaculatory abstinence may also trigger physical rejuvenation, and increase testosterone levels, and muscle mass. Keep in mind that when semen is not removed from the body, it is reabsorbed into the body. Thus, the theory is that semen retention can boost testosterone.

Studies also suggest that men, who practice at least 3 weeks of sexual abstinence have higher testosterone levels. However, keep in mind that the effects of semen retention extend beyond physicality. The theory is that semen retention may boost motivation, self-esteem and self-confidence, energy, and focus. People who have a high self-confidence are less likely to suffer from anxiety.

Also, men, who focus less on sex and ejaculating, are more likely to have better relationships, and successfully achieve their goals. Semen retention can also help men develop stronger and deeper bonds with their partners and gain a stronger sense of purpose and overall peace.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Semen Retention?

There are several pros and cons associated with semen retention, such as:

Pros:

  • More semen & increased fertility
  • More stored energy
  • Better sperm flow
  • Explosive sex
  • Lower risk of erectile dysfunction 
  • Stronger relationships
  • Higher self-esteem and self-confidence 

Cons:

  • Sexual frustration
  • Epididymal hypertension or “blue balls”
  • High risk of premature ejaculation (PE)
  • “Wet dreams”
  • Retrograde ejaculation
  • Social isolation 
  • Ejaculation issues
  • Relationship issues

Note: Understand that it is possible to orgasm and not release sperm. This is referred to as a “dry orgasm.” Thus, you can still enjoy sex even if you do not physically ejaculate.

Can Sperm Build Up If It is Not Released?

No, sperm will not build up if you do not ejaculate. 

Preventing ejaculation is also unlikely to cause health problems. When you withhold your sperm, your body simply reabsorbs it. This will not negatively impact your fertility or libido. It also will not prevent you from having a “dry orgasm” or experiencing sexual pleasure. The only unpleasant thing that could occur from being sexually aroused and not ejaculating is “blue balls,” which is the accumulation of blood in the testes and penis. This typically occurs when the penis becomes erect, but is unable to release the “sexual tension.” “Blue balls” can cause discomfort or pain in the scrotum.

Does Semen Retention Increase Testosterone?

Some studies suggest that ejaculatory abstinence (semen retention) from masturbation or sexual activities can boost testosterone levels. According to a 2003 study, preventing ejaculation for approximately 7 days can lead to a 146% increase in testosterone, a male hormone. Likewise, a 2001 study found that men who prevented ejaculation for at least 7 days had elevated levels of testosterone. Keep in mind, however, that the studies listed above are small studies, so more research is needed to determine the true effect of ejaculation abstinence on testosterone levels.

Can Semen Retention Help Me Conquer My Porn Addiction?

Maybe.

Males, who practice semen retention, swear that “withholding one’s semen” can help you kick your porn habit. More specifically, these individuals believe that practicing semen retention can help you become more desirable to real-life people, like your romantic partner. It can also boost your self-esteem and self-confidence, increase your self-control and self-awareness, strengthen your tolerance and willpower, help you sleep better at night, improve your memory, and boost your sexual desire for your real-life partner.

The belief is that if you have a high self-esteem and self-confidence, you will be less likely to turn to porn for companionship, excitement, and/or entertainment. In other words, you will have the confidence to go out and meet people in the real world and develop meaningful relationships with real-life people. Studies suggest that most porn addicts turn to porn because they are anxious, tired, bored, upset, depressed, and/or overwhelmed.

Porn becomes a sort of self-medication to numb oneself to what is happening in the real world. However, when someone feels well-rested and confident, they are less likely to experience porn addiction triggers that make them want to use porn. These individuals are more likely to find healthier and more productive things to do, such as exercising or finding a hobby. These individuals no longer need porn to satisfy them. Moreover, they tend to have happier relationships and amazing sex lives.

Critics of semen retention believe that this practice can actually make things worse if you have a porn addiction. As mentioned above, withholding semen for too long can cause a variety of health problems, such as PE, impotence, etc. These individuals feel like semen retention does not work, and can actually make them miserable because they are unable to “release your sexual tension.” According to critics, semen retention can lead to moodiness, which does not bode well for relationships. And, this practice could make your urges to view porn more intense leading to porn addiction relapses.

So, can semen retention help you conquer your porn addiction? Possibly, but the jury is still out.

References

  • Jiang, M., Xin, J., Zou, Q., & Shen, J. W. (2003). A research on the relationship between ejaculation and serum testosterone level in men. Journal of Zhejiang University, 4(2), 236–240. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1631/jzus.2003.0236
  • Exton, M. S., Krüger, T. H., Bursch, N., Haake, P., Knapp, W., Schedlowski, M., & Hartmann, U. (2001). Endocrine response to masturbation-induced orgasm in healthy men following a 3-week sexual abstinence. World Journal of Urology, 19(5), 377–382. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s003450100222
  • 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://doi.org/10.22074/ijfs.2018.5192
  • Hanson, B. M., Aston, K. I., Jenkins, T. G., Carrell, D. T., & Hotaling, J. M. (2018). The impact of ejaculatory abstinence on semen analysis parameters: A systematic review. Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, 35(2), 213–220. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s10815-017-1086-0
  • He, F., Yu, P., & Wu, R. (2013). Relationship between sexual satiety and motivation, brain androgen receptors and testosterone in male mandarin voles. Behavioral Brain Research, 250, 257–263. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2013.05.022
  • Sztajzel, J., Périat, M., Marti, V., Krall, P., & Rutishauser, W. (2000). Effect of sexual activity on cycle ergometer stress test parameters, on plasmatic testosterone levels and on concentration capacity. A study on high-level male athletes was performed in the laboratory. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 40(3), 233–239. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11125766
  • Holland, K. (2022). Is edging bad? 8 things to know before you try it out. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sex/is-edging-bad
  • Levitas, E., Lunenfeld, E., Weiss, N., Friger, M., Har-Vardi, I., Koifman, A., & Potashnik, G. (2005). 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://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2004.12.045
  • Borges, E., Jr, Braga, D., Zanetti, B. F., Iaconelli, A., Jr, & Setti, A. S. (2019). Revisiting the impact of ejaculatory abstinence on semen quality and intracytoplasmic sperm injection outcomes. Andrology, 7(2), 213–219. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/andr.12572
  • Library of Medicine. (2019). Premature ejaculation: What can I do on my own? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547551
  • de Alarcón, R., de la Iglesia, J. I., Casado, N. M., & Montejo, A. L. (2019). Online Porn Addiction: What we know and what we don’t – A systematic review. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 8(1), 91. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8010091
  • Nunes, K. P., Labazi, H., & Webb, R. C. (2012). New insights into hypertension-associated erectile dysfunction. Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension, 21(2), 163–170. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1097/MNH.0b013e32835021bd

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