What You Need to Know about Retrograde Ejaculation
In order for a man to conceive a child with his partner, there are several factors that must be in place. According to the Mayo Clinic, a man must be physically able to produce sperm that are healthy and have good motility. He must also be able to produce enough of this sperm to create semen that have a sufficient sperm count. The sperm must also be transported successfully through the reproductive system to intermingle with seminal fluid and subsequently ejaculated from the penis.
However, there are certain circumstances under which all of these conditions could be met, and yet a man may still encounter infertility issues. One such medical issues where this is the case is that of retrograde ejaculation. Here are some frequently asked questions to help men with the condition to better understand it and the way it is assessed and treated by medical professionals.
Q: What is retrograde ejaculation?
A: Retrograde ejaculation is a condition in which most or all of a man’s semen is deposited into the bladder during orgasm rather than exiting the body through the urethra. This occurs as a result of the muscle in a man’s bladder neck failing to contract and force the semen out of the penis. The lack of muscle contraction causes the semen to instead follow the path of least resistance between the two in the prostate, leading a man’s ejaculate directly into his own bladder.
Q: What are the symptoms of retrograde ejaculation?
A: The primary and most obvious sign that a man may be experiencing retrograde ejaculation is a lack of semen during orgasm. Men with this condition may ejaculate very little or not at all. Another sign that a man may be affected by retrograde ejaculation is cloudy urine after intercourse. Semen deposited into the bladder is flushed out of the body with a man’s urine when he relieves himself, which may cause the urine itself to appear more cloudy than usual. For men who are actively trying to become fathers, an inability to conceive may also be a sign that retrograde ejaculation is an issue.
Q: How common is retrograde ejaculation in men experiencing infertility?
A: Overall, retrograde ejaculation is an uncommon cause of infertility, accounting for only between 0.3 and 2 percent of all male factor infertility problems. To test a patient for this condition, doctors will usually need to conduct a urinalysis directly after the patient has an orgasm in order to determine whether or not there is a significant amount of sperm in a man’s urine.
Q: Is retrograde ejaculation a dangerous health condition?
A: The medical community does not consider retrograde ejaculation to be dangerous or physically harmful to men who experience it. The condition alone does not cause pain or any other symptoms besides those mentioned here. However, it can have a negative effect on the emotions if the condition causes infertility in a man who wishes to become a father. The condition can also have a negative effect on a man’s sex life if he becomes distressed and distracted by his own lack of ejaculate during intercourse, or due to the fact that orgasm may feel different or less pleasurable than usual without semen flowing through the urethra.
Q: What causes retrograde ejaculation?
A: Retrograde ejaculation has several causes. The first is damage to the nervous system, which may be caused by injury or illness that impacts the spinal cord. Problems in this area of the body may affect the nerves and muscles of the bladder, preventing them from functioning properly. Surgery on the lower spine, prostate, colon, rectum, bladder, or testicles may have the same impact. Certain medications (including some antidepressants, anti-psychotics, and drugs to treat an enlarged prostate) may also cause retrograde ejaculation. Moreover, patients with long-term uncontrolled diabetes may suffer organ and nerve damage that results in improper bladder muscle function, causing retrograde ejaculation.
Q: How is retrograde ejaculation treated?
A: Since retrograde ejaculation isn’t dangerous, some men may choose not to seek treatment for it. However, in most cases, those who wish to have a family will likely need to obtain treatment in order to conceive with their partners. The treatment method will vary on a case-by-case basis. If the condition is caused by a medication that a man is routinely taking, a physician will be able to discuss options for halting or switching medications while a patient is attempting to conceive with his partner. For other causes, a physician may be able to prescribe drugs that help the bladder neck muscles remain constricted during orgasm to allow the sperm to flow from the prostate out through the urethra. If the cause of retrograde ejaculation is traced to muscle or nerve damage caused by a previous surgery, medication may not prove effective. However, there are options available for conceiving children through assisted reproductive technologies (ART). These include sperm retrieval procedures for use during in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination.
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