Disclaimer: This article endeavors to review the shadow side of male orgasm and how retention of ejaculation is beneficial. I am not against self-pleasure. Please read my other piece on how important I think pleasure is in the male experience (https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/five-reasons-for-men-to-self-pleasure-fiff/). However, it is my impression men are taught that orgasming as much as they want is without harm – even beneficial. I disagree.
Energy spent is energy spent. Whether it be money or resources or emotions, if spent unwisely, the possibility of a generous return weakens.
As a sex therapist and tantric practitioner, I have found in research and in my own body there is strong evidence against unabated ejaculating, especially as we age.
The misinformation starts young.
We learn in school that having an orgasm produces two things: babies and pleasure. Some households and educational institutions avoid the latter sentiment altogether. My sixth-grade teacher in a public school taught us reproduction. Her discourse covering the pleasure side of sex was summarized as “when the man’s penis enters the vagina, he moves it around and it feels good for the woman.” Simple, yet vastly limiting.
Adolescence sees the advent of social ideation and cultural pressures. We only need to be smart, strong, handsome, an effective communicator, well-endowed, well-dressed, skilled in the art of bedding a woman, have lots of sex, push past our limits in sports, reel in those good grades, succinctly please your parents, and just be happy dammit, but stay away from bad crowds and having too much fun. And for God sakes, get to church or at least get a part-time job. Then, and only then, might someone love you and happiness have a chance.
How do orgasms fit in here?
What happens when we don’t feel “good enough” as young adventurers? We search for pleasure, again and again. Quick pleasure. Pleasure that allows us to feel good. Pleasure that produces power; something we mistake for happiness. A growing male need not worry about all those pressures. He can simply go to work below his belt.
Orgasm becomes associated with spontaneous acts of feeling good. Much like a drug, emotional outburst, or carb binge, it comes at a cost. Outward orgasming in men can include the following detriments:
- Risk of unwanted pregnancy.
- Ejaculation floods the brain with dopamine and oxytocin, resulting in a reduction and inhibition of these receptors. Shortly after there is a depletion in oxytocin and dopamine. The brain and body need time to recover.
- Men don’t just roll over uninterested in their partner, but they do seek continual pleasure after orgasm due to the depletion in dopamine. Men are less likely to seek a bonding experience. Closeness and intimacy – meh.
- Testosterone is antagonistic to oxytocin, the hormone that allows us to form emotional bonding. Testosterone floods the male brain during orgasm causing oxytocin depletion.
- Reinforce outward flow, rather than body enlivening, energy flourishing inward and upward orgasms that are possible with training.
- Energetic depletion in aging men, possible creative stagnation, and lack of ambition. It is rare (not impossible), to find a man in his forties who orgasms daily and does not experience a dullness or fatigue. Yet there are many men in their forties who have sex several times a month and never experience fatigue, but if they came daily would regret it.
- Excessive orgasming is linked to mental health issues, nervous system malfunction, depression, anxiety, and even balding (although this last source needs closer evaluation).
- We have been programmed through pornography and cultural milieu that how a man orgasms on, in, and at a woman is associated with power and dominance. From bragging rights in Varsity hallways, to Sunday football locker room chat, lobbing sperm is the mark of achievement and highly reinforcing, yet tainted with misogyny.
- Reinforcing pleasure stimulation in the brain can promote unwanted impulsive behaviours in relationships, consumerism, drug/alcohol use, diet, and in emotional regulation.
What starts out as a simple exploration in pleasure can take an unexpected turn.
Yet in an era where the wisdom of antiquity is making an intriguing comeback, we may notice after some digging, that nearly every philosophical and spiritual system, most notably Eastern traditions and Western Esoteric Circles, teaches some form of ejaculation control for any aspirant wanting to improve their quality of life and connection to world/other. Perhaps none more than the Taoists promoted a sex positive, but “watch your orgasms dude!” approach to sex.
Current articles on the benefits of semen retention (for at least a 2 week period) include men boasting an increase in productivity, renewed enthusiasm for life, increased energy, more pronounced masculinity and confidence, and an increased ability to take healthy risks. Most of these articles are based on the personal experience of the writers, with very little scientific acumen. More research is required to verify these accounts to appease the public and scientific community at large.
Aside from the claims of these writers, I’ve endeavoured to list how semen retention can help you change not only change the planet, but your own personal world.
- Circulating orgasmic energy staves off depletion. By not flooding and consequently depleting our brains of bonding hormones, we are left desiring our partners more, feeling more securely attached, trusting, promoting a better environment for vulnerability – the secret ingredient to any healthy relationship. Going out into the world from an impassioned and trusting home is the secret ingredient to a healthy society.
- Bypassing orgasms reroutes unprofitable neural patterns. Rerouting pleasure circuitry in the brain reduces impulsive behaviours. Freed from a need for recurring pleasure allows us to utilize that “seeking” energy for other, more creative endeavors. Retaining orgasm mitigates the loss of energy, re-establishing creative spunk. The ease in which we move away from planet killing consumerism and narcissistic immediate gratification, largely depends on how strongly these pleasure patterns have hold. Working with non-ejaculatory sex can be one of the most far reaching exercises of prevention. If we can delay gratification when the pressure is most prominent, we can exercise restraint at the shopping mall with greater integrity.
- Non-goal orientated sex has lasting benefits. When we are less focussed on orgasm, we are automatically more focussed on our body, our partner, the aromas in the air, along with our other senses. Opening our awareness beyond goal oriented sex allows our partner to know we are really taking them in. Our enjoyment of everyday, moment by moment, experiences are enriched because we aren’t out to get something. We are simply appreciating the transparent beauty of life as it is, in all its intensities and subtleties.
- We can have sex more often. There is no refractory period. We are simply ready to go, tissue tested, and prepared. What better way to walk through life as well? Less can be more.
- Reduce unwanted pregnancies, greater pleasure, natural birth control. I am not claiming that sex without a condom will guarantee birth control. A woman and a man must know their body intimately. Not orgasming can greatly reduce pregnancy, coupled with a woman who can track her fertility, provides a strong childproof scenario without the need for condoms or chemically harmful birth control methods. Please watch out for STIs and make sure you are safe. Again, this method is not sure-fire and requires much self-study on the part of both partners, but when used properly is the most pleasurable.