Jeremy Glass is a freelance writer living in Maine with his wife, daughter, and jittery dog. His work has appeared in GQ, Esquire, Vice, Thrillist, and Men’s Health, among other outlets. Check out his website and follow him on Twitter: @candyandpizza | Read More
Passed down through generations by way of tradition and word-of-mouth, semen retention (also known as coitus reservatus, seminal conservation, or sexual continence) is the ancient practice of avoiding ejaculation through exercise, concentration, and self-discipline.
For the men who’ve mastered the numerous semen retention techniques, the act of retrograde ejaculation (also called semen restoration) takes advantage of the kegel — muscles to strengthen the pelvic floor and delay ejaculation through rerouting one’s semen.
With links to the ancient art of tantric sex, some of the purported benefits of semen retention ranging from increased muscle growth to thicker hair, increased testosterone, and an overall boost in cognitive function. It’s clear that semen retention benefits the mind, body, and spirit at once.
What is semen retention?
Modern concept or ancient practice? A little bit of both. For those who’ve mastered retrograde ejaculation, a combination of controlled breathing, applying pressure to the perineum, and pulling out before ejaculation (a.k.a. “coitus conservatus”) diverts the sperm away from the penis, which is then broken down and reabsorbed by the body. While this began as an ancient practice, many people continue on with the tradition of semen retention as a way to reduce anxiety, increase testosterone, and regain energy.
The practice of semen retention and non-ejaculatory orgasms falls under the umbrella of the many “Taoist sexual practices” also known as “joining energy” or “the joining of the essences.” Going back thousands of years, practitioners regularly performed semen retention – it was viewed as a pillar of Taoist sexual practice. It is believed that sperm carries with it a life force (known as “Jing”) that leaves the body when ejaculation takes place. By keeping the Jing inside the body through non-ejaculatory orgasms, this life force is diverted throughout the mind, body, and spirit.
Understanding semen retention
- Semen retention comes from the ancient Taoist sexual practice of orgasming without ejaculating. The life force-rich semen is then reabsorbed throughout the body, improving the mind, body, and spirit.
- Through deep breathing, exercising the kegel muscles, and daily practice, anyone can master the art of semen retention.
- The benefits of semen retention include heightened cognitive functions, increased fertility, heightened sexual pleasure, and more.
The science behind semen retention
The idea of semen retention is quite simple: it’s the practice of avoiding ejaculation through masturbation or sex. On an anatomical level, the simplicity withstands: instead of exiting out the urethra, semen is broken down and reabsorbed into the body. Finding the “point of no return” in which ejaculation is imminent and actively backing off orgasm is one of the first steps in mastering semen retention.
When you feel that sexual peak approaching, concentrate on deep breathing techniques while flexing the kegel muscles — these are the muscles you use to stop yourself from peeing. By relaxing the muscles needed to ejaculate and actively concentrating on diverting your sperm elsewhere, you can bypass ejaculation while still feeling physical pleasure.
After ejaculation occurs, we go into the final stage of a four-part sexual response cycle called “the refractory period.” Post-ejaculation is the perfect time for the body to relax and regain its energy in preparation for the next sexual endeavor. This means your blood pressure and heart rate back go down, while a hormone called prolactin is released to curb sexual desire in men. By circumventing ejaculation with semen retention, we essentially skip past the refractory period and keep the energy from fading away.
What are the benefits of semen retention?
Like many traditions handed down through generations over thousands of years, the myriad benefits of sperm retention still inspire men to give the ancient practice a try. From physical benefits like weight loss to building stronger emotional bonds with a partner through tantric sex, the benefits of semen retention go beyond a boost in male physical and spiritual energy.
Measuring the spiritual benefits of something can be a bit more difficult to quantify than, say, testosterone levels. Still, the purported advantages of semen retention are extremely telling of its effect on the soul.
- Those who’ve mastered orgasm without ejaculating report back a sense of overall calm and wellbeing. When arousal occurs, your brain’s neurotransmitters release a combination of acetylcholine, norepinephrine, dopamine, histamine, and serotonin that keep you alert and energetic. Blocking the release of prolactin keeps you from going into the refractory period, allowing you to feel the full effects of dopamine and serotonin.
- Dry orgasms promote a sense of balance and harmony with the outside world by allowing practitioners to get a better understanding of what their body, mind, and spirit are capable of when mindfulness comes into play.
- Both semen retention and tantric sex as a whole can lead to stronger, and more intense emotional connections to one’s partner(s). For most, the fun ends when ejaculation occurs; the body goes into relaxation mode, effectively ending the sexual encounter for both parties. Semen retention encourages the fun to continue, allowing both parties to explore the extent of a pleasurable experience without the worry of ejaculation cutting it short.
- Taoists believe sperm contains the most “Jing” or “life force” than any other substance in the body, which — when kept within the body — causes the jing to influence the mind and strengthen relationships
For years, the many mental benefits of semen retention have inspired men to investigate this ancient practice and invest their time in mastering this element of tantric sex. Many believe that semen restoration harnesses the sexual energy that may otherwise have been lost through ejaculation and redirects it to other areas of the body.
- Semen retention promotes an overall boost in cognitive function as well as clarity of thought.
- Along with reducing the symptoms of depression, dry orgasms have been said to increase confidence and self-esteem by way of raising testosterone and serotonin levels. Heightened testosterone levels can boost sex drive, mood, and cognitive ability.
- Other benefits include improved concentration and focus, a sharper memory, and an overall drop in anxiety.
Numerous studies report the testosterone-specific benefits of semen retention like semen quality and mobility, but they’re not the only physical benefits men report.
- Increased testosterone – which can help increase sperm mobility, increase muscle mass, aid in the production of red blood cells, play a role in bone mineral density, and naturally raise your libido as well as overall energy.
- One Reddit user writes how semen retention relieved him of “gastrointestinal issues, bloating, light sensitivity, inability to be productive, intense fatigue, lack of ambition, depression, anger outbursts” as well as about a dozen more symptoms.
- Other benefits include increased stamina and the ability to have multiple orgasms.
- Some men have even reported thicker hair growth in response to semen retention.
- Orgasm without ejaculation takes a fair bit of knowledge about the limitations of one’s body. Not only do you need to know how to stop yourself from going over the point of return, but knowing how to locate that point of no return is a step in the process that’s just as important. Practicing masturbation sans ejaculation teaches men self-control, discipline, and mindfulness all at once.
Are there any risks of semen retention?
There are few reported risks to semen retention, but some studies show a direct beneficial correlation between ejaculation and lowering one’s risks of prostate cancer. Along with the benefits of frequent masturbation, abstaining from ejaculation may potentially harm muscles or nerves in the pelvic area and epididymal hypertension or “blue balls” as a result of too much blood in the penis/testicles. Luckily, men don’t find themselves with blue balls as often as movies and television would lead us to believe.
Semen retention techniques
Whether you’re mastering semen retention for yourself or a partner, practicing semen retention is a multifaceted art that positively benefits individuals and couples alike. Semen retention can be practiced by one’s self during masturbation or with a partner. With the benefits of semen retention far outweighing the risks, virtually anyone can practice the act simply by abstaining from sex. The far more interesting way involves a lot of preparation, dedication, and communication with one’s self and your partner.
Make Sure the Scene is Set
Set the mood by making yourself as comfortable as possible. Dim the lights, turn on some sexy music, light a few candles, and relax. Make sure you give yourself the time and space to thoroughly sink into the mood and experiment without the fear of a roommate barging in and ruining the fun.
It’s All in the Breath
Getting a handle on your breathing is the first step in mastering semen retention. Taking deep, mindful breaths in through your nose and out your mouth is an excellent way to relax your body and mind, while curbing the urge to ejaculate.
Find the Point of No Return
Aside from abstinence, the easiest way to dive into semen retention is by very strongly flexing your pelvic muscles just before the “point of no return” directly before orgasm. According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM), this act (known as “edging” can actually lead to stronger, more intense orgasms.
The Stop/Start Method
There’s an ancient Tantric practice called Karezza in which two or more partners have prolonged intercourse without it ending ejaculation. Karezza incorporates “breathing control, meditation, work with postures, and finger pressure” to effectively delay orgasm by putting the power of the mind to use. This is also known as the “stop-start method” where a man approaches the “point of no return” but stops himself from ejaculating through concentration.
Squeeze the Head
Squeezing the head of the penis is another method to delay ejaculation. Have yourself or your partner apply pressure to the head of the penis until the urge to ejaculate passes. This may take several seconds, but provided it’s combined with deep breathing techniques and pelvic floor exercises, ejaculation can be easily avoided.
Strengthen the Pelvic Floor
Strengthening the pelvic floor (or kegel) muscles can, not only, help men retain semen but actually fight against urinary or fecal incontinence. The kegel muscles are what you squeeze when cutting off the flow of urine; tightening these muscles can delay ejaculation through concentration and relaxation. Practicing kegel exercises three times can be done anywhere — sitting, standing, in the car, at work — and is a quick and easy way to regain control of these muscles.
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