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On balance, most guys would say that ejaculating is a pretty good thing to do. But could it be good for your health? Like getting-more-vitamin-D and doing-150-minutes-a-week-of-cardio healthy? Some studies have suggested that coming can have health benefits. Meanwhile, some sites claim the opposite — that “semen retention” is beneficial. What’s the scientific consensus?
- A recent study suggested that men who ejaculate 21 times a month have a lower risk of prostate cancer than men who ejaculate less often. But the research isn’t conclusive.
- There are plenty of health benefits to ejaculation and orgasm, including reduced stress and depression, increased immunity, and lower blood pressure.
- There’s no evidence that “semen retention” will make you more virile.
- There’s no evidence that regular ejaculation has adverse health effects.
How often should men ejaculate?
There’s no “normal” number of times a man should ejaculate per day, week, or month. What’s normal varies, depending on age, relationship status, overall health, and other factors.
Is 21 the magic number? That’s what was suggested by a study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School, which found that men who reported 21 or more ejaculations a month had a 31 percent lower risk of prostate cancer than men who ejaculated between 4 and 7 times a month (Rider, 2017).
Some researchers theorize that ejaculation might clear the prostate of irritants or toxins that could cause inflammation.
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But not every study agrees. A 2004 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association didn’t find an association between ejaculation frequency and prostate cancer risk (Leitzmann, 2004). And a 2008 study published in BJUI International involving 800 subjects found that young men who reported more sexual activity (both masturbation and sex) actually had a slightly higher risk of developing prostate cancer in their 20s and 30s (Lophatananon, 2008). But more prolific sexual activity seemed to protect against prostate cancer after age 50.
In 2018, Chinese researchers published a meta-analysis of 21 studies involving over 55,000 men. “Moderate ejaculation” (e.g., two to four times per week) was “significantly associated” with a lower prostate cancer risk, but the risk didn’t decline with more ejaculations than that. Confusing things further, the researchers found that men who had fewer sexual partners and started having sex later in life had a lower incidence of prostate cancer (Jian, 2018).
“The real answer is, nobody really knows,” says Seth Cohen, MD, a urologist with NYU Langone Health in New York City. “There’s minimal research that says ejaculating ten times a week is better than ejaculating once a week, and 20 is better than that, but these studies have never been validated.”
Cohen points out that the studies aren’t double-blind or placebo-controlled; they just compare groups of men with and without an illness and look at their behaviors and health habits. Therefore, the studies can find a connection but not prove causation. In terms of any health benefits, those connections might suggest between frequent ejaculation, “Is it the act of orgasm?” says Cohen. “Is it because of a blood pressure drop? Is it because those men are having better sexual relationships with their partners? Nobody knows that answer.”
Is semen retention healthy?
Some sites and social media accounts advocate “semen retention,” the practice of avoiding ejaculation, either by not masturbating, masturbating without orgasm, or delaying or skipping ejaculation when having sex. They claim that doing so can preserve energy or enhance masculinity.
While it might be a good thing to learn how to last longer during sex, there is no scientific evidence that semen retention is a healthy thing to do. There’s no such thing as ejaculating too much.
Health benefits of ejaculation
In fact, there’s an argument to be made that the answer to the question, “How often should a man ejaculate?” is “As often as he’d like.” “There are a lot of health benefits to ejaculating and having an orgasm,” says Cohen. Those include:
- Lower blood pressure.
- Improved relationships. Sexual arousal increases bodily levels of oxytocin, a.k.a. the bonding hormone.
- Reduced stress and depression. Arousal causes a surge of dopamine, the “feel-good” hormone that contributes to feelings of pleasure or satisfaction, which can improve mood (Melis, 1995).
- Increased immunity (Haake, 2004).
- Better sleep.
- A lower risk of heart disease. A review of research published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that having sex once a month or less increases your risk of cardiovascular disease (Hall, 2010). (Erectile dysfunction, or ED, can be an indicator of heart disease, but this study found a correlation independent of ED.)