What Are the Benefits of Ejaculation?

With or without a partner, here's how ejaculation may help—and how often

An orgasm is a "peak sensation of intense pleasure." For a short time, your pelvic muscles contract; your consciousness changes; and the blood levels of chemical messengers called oxytocin and prolactin—associated with social bonding—increase. The orgasm causes feelings of well-being and contentment. Afterward, you may feel calm, satisfied, and relieved, per an October 2016 review published in Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology.

In people assigned male at birth, ejaculation is typically associated with an orgasm—though it's possible to ejaculate without an orgasm and orgasm without ejaculation, per the October 2016 review.

But is ejaculation good for you? And how often should it happen? Ethical restrictions and privacy concerns make it a difficult topic to study. But here's what we knew about the benefits of ejaculation as of July 2022.

Ejaculation and Prostate Cancer

Several studies have linked more frequent ejaculation to a lower risk of prostate cancer, but not all researchers agree.

The largest study on the association was published in European Urology in December 2016. It followed more than 31,000 men for almost 20 years. In the beginning, researchers asked participants between the ages of 40–75 to report how often, on average, they ejaculated at different points in their life. Eighteen years later, researchers recorded who developed prostate cancer.

The study conclusion: More frequent ejaculations were associated with lower rates of prostate cancer. Specifically, participants who had reported 21 or more monthly ejaculations had a significantly lower risk of prostate cancer than those who had reported 4–7 monthly ejaculations.

Does that mean you should ejaculate at least 21 times a month? As of July 2022, there was no definitive evidence to recommend this. For one, participants in the December 2016 study were asked to remember how often they ejaculated at, say, ages 20–29 when they were between 40–75 old. And the study didn't ask how ejaculations were achieved—with partnered sex or masturbation.

Another study of more than 2,000 men, published in August 2017 in Urologic Oncology found only "weak evidence" for the lowered risk of prostate cancer with more frequent ejaculation, and only for participants aged 30–39.

The bottom line: We need more studies to explore the association, according to an August 2021 paper published in Frontiers in Psychology.

Ejaculation and Sperm Quality

Does ejaculating more often improve your sperm quality? On this, too, researchers aren't in agreement, though many have studied sperm features after different periods of abstinence.

A November 2017 review in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics described a complex relationship: Longer abstinence seems to improve sperm count and volume. But shorter abstinence may improve sperm motility (movement ability), morphology (size and shape), and DNA fragmentation (breakages in the chromosomes' genetic material). The review concluded that they can't recommend "ideal abstinence" because of conflicting evidence.

An October 2017 review in the International Journal of Fertility & Sterility made the same conclusions about sperm count, volume, and motility, but went as far as to recommend shortening abstinence periods because of the importance of improved motility—the ability of sperm to move properly through the female reproductive tract.

A May 2015 study in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology found that ejaculating daily for two weeks decreased sperm count and volume, but didn't affect any other measures of sperm quality.

To make things more complicated, the quality of your sperm depends on other factors too: for example, the type and location of sexual activity. Studies have shown differing sperm quality between at-home and in-clinic masturbation, and between masturbation and intercourse (though only penile-vaginal intercourse was considered), per the August 2021 review.

The bottom line: As of July 2022, it was too early to say whether abstaining is good for your fertility.

Orgasms and Sleep

Orgasms with or without a partner may improve your sleep quality, per a March 2019 study published in Frontiers in Public Health. More than 700 participants responded how they perceived different sleep outcomes after sex with a partner and masturbation, with or without an orgasm.

The study found that having an orgasm, by yourself or with a partner, improved sleep quality and latency (the time it takes to fall asleep), compared to sex or masturbation without an orgasm. More than half of all participants who had an orgasm (especially with a partner) perceived higher sleep quality afterward.

This effect may occur because, following an orgasm, you experience a release of oxytocin, associated with a better quality of life, and the obstruction of cortisol, a stress hormone.

The findings prompted the study authors to suggest "promoting safe sexual activity before bed" as a new behavioral strategy for better sleep.

Summary

Human sexuality research is complicated because of ethical and privacy concerns, as well as researchers' biases, per the August 2021 paper. The participant samples may not be fully representative, skewing the behaviors studied to, say, penile-vaginal intercourse in monogamous couples.

As of July 2022, the evidence on the benefits of ejaculation was inconclusive. Frequent ejaculation may reduce the risk of prostate cancer and improve sperm motility, but more studies are needed to confirm this.

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