Retrograde Ejaculation

This information will help you understand retrograde ejaculation and how it may affect you.

Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen flows back into your bladder, instead of out through your penis. Usually, sperm leave the testicles and travel up the vas deferens (see figure). When the sperm reach the ejaculatory duct, they mix with semen from the seminal vesicles and the prostate. During orgasm, the bladder neck closes. This prevents semen from flowing back and entering the bladder. The semen exits the body through the penis.

If you have retrograde ejaculation, the bladder neck does not close at orgasm. Semen then flows backward into the bladder rather than forward through the penis.

Causes of Retrograde Ejaculation

You may develop retrograde ejaculation after surgery to remove the lymph nodes behind your abdomen, as a treatment for testicular cancer. During the surgery, the nerves that control the bladder neck may have been injured. Sometimes, these nerves can be spared. However, it can take a month to several years for them to begin to work again. Your doctor can tell you if nerve-sparing surgery is a possible option for you.

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Retrograde ejaculation is not harmful or painful, but it may cause a subtle change in sensation, because no semen exits the penis. A dry ejaculate does not affect erection or orgasm. You will still be able to enjoy sexual activity. After sexual activity, your urine may appear cloudy because it has semen in it.

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If you plan to have a family after your surgery, tell your doctor you want to bank your sperm before surgery. If you have not banked your sperm before the surgery, and want to have a family, your doctor can tell you about your options and refer you to a specialist.

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