Can a Man Ejaculate too much?
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.
Like some young men, I grew up with a strong libido and nowhere to put it. Who was I going to tell that I was horny most of the time? My male friends didn’t want to hear it unless the conversation somehow involved how to sleep with women and who was hot; certainly not my parents or teachers, and aside from my sexual partners (and even then), there was little room for verbal expression of how much I burned. My late elementary and high school years were spent without Internet access, so the exposure to pornography was, thankfully, limited. I can only imagine what my 15-year-old self would be doing right now.
An inability and ignorance toward what to do with sexual energy, coupled with vast overstimulation and embarrassing encounters with partners, sent me searching for answers.
Some of my friends are like a brontosaurus in a forest of tall trees, rarely ever struggling to reach the canopy, or so they say, and make no mistake, leafy greens go a “long” way. Yet in my practice and in conversations elsewhere, I am noticing that many men are secretly suffering from the same type of confidence-jarring episodes I had when I was younger. Health, by and large, is becoming multi-disciplined. The days of symptom “cures” are fading, and by that I mean drugs such as Viagra and Cialis. To fully restore a man’s sexual health, he must integrate several areas of life. Here are some of the non-prescription gems I have found to “give myself a lift.”
**Please note there are several conditions that contribute to erectile problems that cannot be solved by these methods., where medical assistance should be sought.**
1. Our body’s malfunctions are both literal and symbolic: Erections have as much to do with virility and confidence, as they do with biology and blood flow.
Western Mythology and Eastern Religious thought hold the erection, often referred to as the Phallus, as a symbol of fertility and strength. The erection is constellated in the symbol of Mars, with the arrow pointed up and away, honoring the god of action and ego (*note: he is not the god of the sexual, but of the energy).
The negative side of this symbol indicates war and aggression, stewed with narcissism. However the virtue of these phalli represent a lust for life, circulation, and an ability to penetrate the mysteries of experience.
A limp penis is allegorically associated with an inability to respond to the challenges of life or a depleted effort in following ones true calling. The shaft and head of the penis are structurally akin to the spinal column and brain. Just Google “Posture” and you will find that people who walk with a straight spine, and sit erect, have more blood flow to their brains, are perceived as more confident, and are healthier—indicating an engaged relationship with the world.
Flaccidity can drastically change when one turns their energy toward what they love to do in life. Our dreams are often represented in the stars: distant, but somehow attainable. Coincidentally we refer to famous people as stars. Jimmy Page, the lead guitarist of Led Zeppelin, was often portrayed as an “orgasmic” guitarist, flowing his life force through his fingers into the strings. When our intention is pinpointed on lofty goals, the stuff our dreams are made of, our thoughts and actions, will not be the only part of us that turns skyward. Your partner wants to experience your ardor, and so does the world.
2. Reduce understimulation and overstimulation
As a child I learned to self soothe my anxieties by putting my hand in my pants. Embarrassingly, this habit spilled over into my teen years, and I found that each time I became somewhat anxious, I’d be plowing my jeans. Many men masturbate frequently and find they no longer have the stimulation they need when their partners are ready for sex. Nerve endings need periods of rest, so as to not become habitually overstimulated.
One solution for a man suffering from erectile difficulties is a period of abstinence. A full month, or even two weeks, can make a significant difference. This allows the nerves to recalibrate, anxieties to be dealt with emotionally, and for sex to be exciting again. Drugs and alcohol should be avoided during this time, as they can be great downers when it comes to the male member.
Overstimulation can also take place in the mind. If a man mentally gets naked with every attractive woman he sees, overstimulation occurs, and the nerves still fire. However, if a man is able to breathe this aliveness and lust throughout his entire body (to be covered in another article), rather than fantasizing, he can heal himself and honor the attracting energy rather than waste it. Pornography, the greatest over-stimulator of them all, often spells certain doom for the actual sexual encounter.
Understimulation constitutes a complete avoidance of sexual energy, a fear of touching oneself, and suppression of passion. Sexual energy that is skewed, scattered, or squelched (as a professor of mine used to say) can produce emotional imbalances, physical illnesses, and intimacy deficiencies, as well as (following the first suggestion) a general melancholic stance in life or unruly aggression. Men need some randiness!
3. It’s all in the climax.
Literally. The best parts of the blood work to produce sperm. Hence the best energy in the body is used and infused in this liquid. It does, after all, contain the potential components to help create an entire new life-form (or more than one). Potent stuff! One of the most effective ways to restore your ability is to engage fully in sexual activity with your partner, but leave orgasm out as the goal. In this way, you will not feel depleted afterward, your bonding neurotransmitters will not be spent (see Cupid’s Poison Arrow, a book on non-ejaculatory sex), you will be spared from under or overstimulation, and your chances of being ready next time around will be enhanced. Also, that same energy that goes into creating a child will be re-circulated back through your body and can be used toward your dreams, goals, projects, and relationship (yet another article).
The most fertile ground for the most potent erection of life’s forces is a relationship that is emotionally, physically, and mentally safe, one in which both partners are imbued with a love for life as well as each other, and one in which their stimulation is sourced and contained within their mutual vessel and the energy generated is not wasted in frugal moments, but spent on those things in life that will provide them a positive return.
These methods may not work for everyone, but I’m betting there are countless men who can use these tips to crank things up without the pills and start enjoying sex with their partners again.
Sex can disappear from a relationship in no time. Dry spells are certain. There are many factors to consider here, but it’s clear that men can get really bitchy when they aren’t getting laid.
How have men dealt with it?
Anger, shame, abuse and sports to name a few. We beat the shit out of ourselves and sometimes others. The urge is not our fault, even though we think it is and have been taught that the urge itself is offensive. We’re told to be a man, go masturbate, watch some porn, run it off, go shoot a gun or take a cold shower. Men are supposed to suffer through it alone and sublimate the urge by torturing our bodies and minds just to deal with it.
We put increasing pressure on our partners and then we feel more frustrated by their declining interest. Sometimes we cheat. It’s pretty obvious that we’re struggling.
It might help to look at some reasons we feel sexually frustrated.
1) Men are hard on themselves (no pun intended).
Oh yes, the world has known patriarchy. Male gods created the world and men sustain it—right? With all this power comes the responsibility of righting the Earth on its axis.
Remember the myth of Atlas? Modern men carry this myth on their back. We feel like we need to do everything for everyone all at once. The pressure we feel we need to be under is sizable. It’s almost like we we’ve lost our manhood if we’re not obsessing over keeping our shit together. When we are hard on ourselves, pressure builds, and the only way we know how to share our burden is through connection and release. Thinking we have to do it all ourselves destroys the former.
Masturbation only relieves the latter.
Antidotes: meditation, yoga, communication with our partners, help someone else hold up their world, reverent self-love, or joining a men’s group who talk about new ways of being a man. It’s time for Atlas to put that big ole world down and start taking care of himself. Where are the myths about male self care?
2) We don’t understand that our power to create goes beyond the sperm and ovum.
Creative slumps are hard to take for men. Many of us don’t know how to create, and if we know how then we struggle with what. We’re intimidated by the creative power of women. When sex fails to bring fulfillment, many men decide to deliver the seed and focus their attention on the new life that they’ve helped create, but find out that the woman has done all the creating.
We get frustrated and try for more sex, but all we can attain is more children or feel good moments which, shortly after, will render us tired and spent. Men create things in the world, they create new thoughts, ideas, and many men don’t know that the sexual energy is the best fuel for this process. Mother Theresa was once asked how she accomplished so much. She admitted freely that she rerouted her sexual energy into her ministry.
Antidote: somewhere in childhood, we wanted to make something happen. Dig deep. Draw something. Learn that piano song. Plant a garden. Fathers inspire children through their creating. Put that sexual urge into future generations.
3) If we’re not fighting and conquering, we’re not living.
We’ve been taught that life is a competition. No struggle; no reward. Sex for men can be like a prize after a hard won tournament. If it’s too easy we don’t want it. We don’t feel like it’s enough to just enjoy the desire for sex that naturally arises out of love. So, we create distance, we put up dragons and ogres and large castle walls between us and our partners so that we have to work for it.
C’mon man! Learn to know you deserve pleasure because it is a human right, not something you have to out-do yourself for. Porn is the opposite of this. There is no conquest, only reward, and leaves us feeling as though we’ve cheated ourselves.
Antidote: The only thing you need to compete with is your shadow. Challenge yourself to wake up. But most importantly, allow yourself to be loved (by you) and you’ve already won.
4) We can’t talk to our partners about it.
There is a lot of shame around male sexuality. Back in the medieval ages, we took it when we wanted it and no questions asked. Now we’re experiencing a radical and necessary backlash to our patriarchal transgressions. This erotic drive that hurt so many men and women is now looking as dark as the dark ages. The positive side of male rapturous sex is lost in the twilight.
Antidote: Shame is a huge problem for men. We pick partners who shame us because we were shamed during childhood. We are afraid that asking for sex is the equivalent to rape. To share our fantasies is like opening Pandora’s box. Sometimes we’ll choose partners who withhold sex so that we have to earn it by pleasing them in other ways (see #3 above). Shift around it men. Healthy male sexuality means having healthy partnerships where we can put our gonads on the podium and have them held compassionately. Stay far away from relationships where your sexuality is hostage. And have fun for life’s sake.
5) Poor Diet/Poor Exercise: Yes, you are becoming what you eat.
Horking plate after plate of red meat and high fatty foods, especially without exercise, is going to put your sex into overdrive. I went to a sex club in Spain once to see what it was like. They served the fattiest, most saltiest spicy pepperoni right at the bar to get people going. Try it. Eat fully loaded hamburgers for breakfast and lunch, then finish the day off with three or four bowls of beef chilly, and you’ll most certainly be looking at your partner differently. We’re not Ferdinand out in the meadow looking for every opportunity to mount (see #2), so let’s not put him on our plate so often.
Antidote: Eat more fruits, vegetables, healthy grains, legumes (mmmm… lentil curry), and exercise. It’s hard at first (literally), but after some transition we can approach our sexual urges with less ferocity and more mindfulness.