WTF is a Dry Orgasm? (And Should I Be Concerned?)
Orgasm and ejaculation go hand-in-hand so often that they may seem like the same thing. But believe it or not, they’re two separate processes—and some men can actually orgasm without ejaculating. These “dry orgasms” aren’t that common, but if you don’t ejaculate like a porn star, that’s not necessarily an issue either. Read on to learn what dry orgasms are like and what it could mean if you’re experiencing them yourself.
Stephen, a 30-year-old from Glasgow, Scotland, said that if he orgasms after already having ejaculated multiple times that same day, often little or nothing will come out. “The volume in each successive [ejaculation] gets lower and lower until eventually it’s either none or very little,” he said. “But it feels for me exactly like any other orgasm.”
If this sounds like you, don’t worry—occasional dry orgasms are not necessarily a cause for concern. According to the Mayo Clinic, what sometimes happens is that, as in Stephen’s case, the body’s semen supply gets depleted from repeated ejaculations— think of it like dry heaving when you’re throwing up during a nasty hangover in the morning (except presumably more fun). The good news is, your amount of fluid should naturally replenish within a few hours.
However, if you’re experiencing dry orgasms all the time, there may be more cause for concern. Abraham Morgentaler, M.D., an associate professor of urology at Harvard Medical School and the author of “The Truth About Men and Sex” explained that frequent dry orgasms usually point toward an underlying medical condition.
It helps to understand the basics: Ejaculation involves three substances: fluid from the testicles that contains the sperm, fluid from the prostate and fluid from the seminal vesicles behind the prostate. “During orgasm, all three of these components are delivered into the portion of the urethra that runs through the middle of the prostate, and with muscular contractions, the fluid—now mixed together—is expelled out the tip of the penis,” Morgentaler explained.
What’s often happening when someone orgasms without discharging is that they’re experiencing retrograde ejaculation.
When this occurs, the bladder opening closes so that the ejaculate doesn’t go back into the bladder. What’s often happening when someone orgasms without discharging is that they’re experiencing retrograde ejaculation. This happens when the bladder muscles don’t close properly, so semen ends up in the bladder and comes out only during urination.
Retrograde ejaculation can happen due to a number of health conditions, including diabetes, neurological conditions and complications from surgery in the pelvis, said Morgentaler. It can also be due to certain medications such as alpha blockers, which treat urinary issues stemming from an enlarged prostate. Other causes of frequent dry orgasms could include a stone in the ejaculatory ducts or pressure along the course of the urethra or behind the scrotum.
As painful as that all sounds, you may not actually feel any difference. “Some men will notice no change in the experience of orgasm; they simply notice that no fluid came out,” Morgentaler said. “Other men may experience an uncomfortable sensation, occasionally even pain, when the fluid is blocked, for example, by a stone."
There are also people who intentionally train themselves to have dry orgasms because it helps them to maintain an erection after climax, giving them the ability to have sex for longer. Certain tantric practices teach people to recognize when they’re about to ejaculate and gain control of the muscles involved so that they can halt the process. As you might expect, voluntary dry orgasms like this aren’t generally associated with any health issues.
If dry orgasms happen once in a blue moon (or occur intentionally), it’s probably not a problem, but you should see your doctor if it becomes a pattern. However, Morgentaler does add that it’s important to distinguish between dry orgasms and low ejaculation volume. Often, people think there’s a problem because they don’t produce as much ejaculate as they see in porn, but this is usually just a result of getting older and/or having unrealistic expectations.
“In sex, there can sometimes be a bit of pressure to have a lot of cum, depending on where your partner wants you to finish,” said Stephen. Still, he said partners of his have been fascinated by his dry orgasms. So, if you’re an occasional dry orgasmer and there’s no underlying issue, think of it as just another trick in the book—and an opportunity to teach partners about how intricately varied human sexuality can be.