Have you ever had an orgasm, but failed to ejaculate? If your answer is “yes,” that means you’ve had a dry orgasm. A dry orgasm, also known as orgasmic anejaculation, happens when you climax during sex or masturbation but don’t release any sperm.
Dry orgasm is one form of anejaculation, a condition where you’re unable to ejaculate even though your penis is being stimulated. Another type is anorgasmic anejaculation, which occurs when you can’t reach orgasm or ejaculate while you’re awake.
Depending on the cause, dry orgasms can simply be a temporary occurrence or last permanently. Dry orgasms aren’t necessarily a serious health issue and may only impact you if you’re trying to have children. Read on to learn more about why they happen and what this may mean for you.Why does it happen?
Most reports of dry orgasm occur after bladder or prostate removal surgery. Both procedures can cause you to stop producing sperm, which means you won’t ejaculate when you climax.
Dry orgasm can also result from:
- nerve damage due to diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or a spinal cord injury
- medications that treat high blood pressure, enlarged prostate, or mood disorders
- a blocked sperm duct
- testosterone deficiency
- a genetic reproductive disorder
- laser prostate surgery and other procedures to treat an enlarged prostate
- radiotherapy to treat prostate cancer
- surgery to treat testicular cancer
Stress and other psychological issues can also cause dry orgasms, but this is often situational. You may be able to climax and ejaculate normally during one sexual encounter, but not in another.Is it the same thing as retrograde ejaculation?
Nope. Although dry orgasm and retrograde ejaculation can occur at the same time, they aren’t the same type of condition.
Retrograde ejaculation happens when the neck of your bladder is unable to close during orgasm. Your bladder is unable to stop backflow, allowing semen to flow back into your bladder.
It’s usually caused by alpha-blocker medications, such as Flomax, or surgeries performed on the bladder or prostate that damage the bladder neck.
Men dealing with retrograde ejaculation will have little-to-no semen come out when they climax but may notice that the urine they pass after sex is cloudy with semen.
With dry orgasm, there’s a total absence of semen. Although this could be caused by retrograde ejaculation, it isn’t retrograde ejaculation in itself.Who’s at risk?
Although dry orgasm has multiple causes, people who’ve had a radical prostatectomy — surgery to remove the prostate — will always experience dry orgasm. That’s because both the prostate and the nearby seminal glands are taken out during the procedure.
People who have diabetes or who’ve had pelvic surgery to treat prostate, bladder, or testicular cancers are also at an increased risk.How is it diagnosed?
If you’ve had a dry orgasm and aren’t sure why, make an appointment to see your doctor. Your doctor will ask you a series of questions about your symptoms, medication use, and any recent procedures. They’ll also do a physical exam of your penis, testicles, and rectum.
Your doctor may also examine your urine for semen after you’ve climaxed. This will help them determine whether you’re experiencing dry orgasm or retrograde ejaculation.
This analysis usually happens at your doctor’s office. Your doctor will give you a urine sample container and direct you to the nearest bathroom. You’ll masturbate until you orgasm, then collect a urine sample for testing.
If your doctor finds a lot of sperm in your pee, they may diagnose retrograde ejaculation. If they don’t find any sperm in your urine, they’ll likely diagnose dry orgasm.
They may perform additional testing or refer you to a specialist in order to determine the underlying cause.How is it treated?
Since most men will still experience pleasure when orgasming, it may not pose a problem for everyone. There’s no one way to treat dry orgasms. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause.
If, for example, you’re dealing with dry orgasms because you take tamsulosin (Flomax), your ability to ejaculate normally should return after you stop using the medication. If your dry orgasms are situational and related to psychological stress, counseling could help you work through your problems to restore normal function.
If your dry orgasms are caused by retrograde ejaculation, your doctor may prescribe medication to help keep the bladder neck muscle closed during climax. These include:
- imipramine (Tofranil)
- chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton)
- ephedrine (Akovaz)
- phenylephrine hydrochloride (Vazculep)
If your dry orgasms are infrequent, they may not have a long-term effect on your fertility or result in other complications. Your doctor should be able to provide you with more information specific to your diagnosis and outlook.
Depending on the cause, you may be able to restore your ability to ejaculate naturally using vibrator therapy. It’s thought that this increase in stimulation can help encourage typical sexual function.
If you’re primarily concerned with your ability to have biological children, your doctor may recommend electroejaculation to obtain semen samples for artificial insemination. It may also be possible to extract sperm directly from the testicles.Talk with your doctor
If you’re dealing with dry orgasms, talk to your doctor. Although a dry orgasm here and there usually isn’t cause for concern, it’s important to understand what’s causing your symptoms.
If your symptoms are tied to an underlying condition, your doctor can help you explore your treatment options and advise you on next steps.
Written by Annamarya Scaccia — Updated on November 13, 2019
Loss of fertility. (n.d.).
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016). Retrograde ejaculation.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Dry orgasm.
Retrograde ejaculation. (n.d.).
Understanding sexual issues following prostate cancer treatment. (2014).