what is ejaculation

Hey Men, Want to Improve Your Health? Ejaculate!

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Justin Lehmiller, a social psychologist, researcher and award-winning educator. For more information:
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Ejaculation | Pre-Ejaculation | Benefits | Premature Ejaculation

If you’ve ever watched porn or been with a male sexual partner before (or if you just happen to have a penis), odds are that you’ve probably witnessed or experienced some ejaculations. But what do we really know about male ejaculation? 

Of course, we know that there’s sperm in semen… you know, the stuff that fertilizes eggs. 

Side note: Did you know that it’s normal for there to be 15 million or more sperm per ml of semen? Crazy!

Besides all of the above however, there is so much more to know about male ejaculation. So whether you’re a semen-producing human or not, the below info may just be news to you… very interesting news at that.

Let’s start with the basics… 

What Is Male Ejaculation?

Long before a man is sexually aroused, his body starts preparing for his next ejaculation. 

It all begins in the testes, where sperm are constantly produced. From there, mature sperm move to the epididymis, which sits on top of the testes. Next, these sperm enter the vas deferens (a duct that allows sperm to travel to the urethra). 

When a man is in a heightened state of sexual arousal and getting close to climax, the vas deferens will start moving the sperm along and release it into an area that runs through the prostate called the ejaculatory duct.

Here, the sperm join with secretions from the seminal vesicles and prostate gland. Together, this mixture of fluid is what we call semen. 

When a man is ready to ejaculate, the brain sends signals to the spinal cord which passes the message along to the muscles at the base of the penis. When ejaculation takes place, semen is released into the urethra and those muscles surrounding the penis rhythmically contract roughly every 0.8 seconds, expelling semen from the body. 

Are Ejaculation and Climax the Same Thing?

Climax (or orgasm) happens at the peak of sexual excitement, and is both a physiological and psychological experience featuring muscular contractions and (usually) intense feelings of pleasure. 

By contrast, ejaculation refers simply to the release of semen (as described above).

Climax and ejaculation usually happen at the same time, but this is not always so. For example, some men may climax without ejaculating (called a ‘dry orgasm’). Likewise, some may ejaculate without the feelings of orgasm (‘ejaculatory anhedonia’). As a result, ejaculation and climax are best thought of as separate processes, and not one and the same. 

What’s Up With Pre-Ejaculate Fluid, AKA Pre-Cum?

Before semen is released from the penis, a small amount of pre-ejaculation is sometimes released. This is actually a drop or two of alkaline fluid from two glands that sit beneath the prostate (the Cowper’s glands).

The thing about pre-ejaculate fluid is that there is a chance it could contain live sperm, and thus could potentially cause pregnancy, and/or spread STIs and HIV. For that reason, you may want to reconsider the ‘pull out’ method as a form of birth control

How Often Should a Male Ejaculate?

Of course we’re kind of biased when it comes to ejaculation and climax (we’d love to see people enjoying these experiences on a regular basis). But for men, research suggests that it may actually be important for their overall health to ejaculate fairly often. Good news, wouldn’t you say?

To further make your day, frequent ejaculation just might reduce the risk of prostate cancer. For example, a 2016 study, that took place over two decades, found that men who ejaculated 21 times or more per month were at the lowest risk of prostate cancer. Despite what you may have heard about frequent masturbation or ejaculation being harmful, the data just don’t support this idea. 

And for those who may be worried that ejaculating often may lead to a decreased chance of fathering a child, a 2015 study showed that frequent ejaculation does not impair sperm quality. It is true that very short periods between ejaculations temporarily leads to lower sperm and semen output; however, this is quickly replenished. So if you and your partner are trying to get pregnant and you want to be at max potency, simply taking a day off from masturbating before you have sex should be enough to do the trick.

Side note: It’s impossible to ‘run out’ of sperm, as around 1,500 sperm are produced every single second.

Benefits of Male Ejaculation During Sex

As if we needed more reason to do the nasty, it’s been shown that when men orgasm during sex or masturbation, there are a slew of potential health benefits!

  • Masturbation to orgasm appears to stimulate the immune system, which might help in warding off infections
  • Orgasm provides a temporary mood boost (“afterglow”) and has stress-relieving properties
  • Orgasm releases hormones and neurotransmitters that can help us to fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep
  • Men who engage in sex more frequently have a lower risk of having a heart attack

Premature Ejaculation

Premature ejaculation (PE) is common. Research finds that it happens to around 30 to 40 percent of men at one time or another in their lives.

PE is when a male ejaculates sooner than he or his partner would like and this causes distress. For some men, PE is lifelong. For others, it may only occur when they’re young or with a new partner. 

When Does Premature Ejaculation Become a Problem?

If you search for definitions of PE, it’s often defined as when ejaculation takes place under one minute or before sexual intercourse has even begun, and this occurs on a regular basis.

However, rather than putting a strict time limit on it, PE is usually defined clinically in subjective terms. After all, what it means in terms of taking a “short” or “long” time to ejaculate will vary across persons and situations. So if you feel like you’re ejaculating too early and this is causing sexual or relationship distress, talk to your doctor about it.

What Causes Premature Ejaculation?

A number of things. It’s been found that men who have lower levels of serotonin are more likely to experience premature ejaculation. It could also happen to those who have erectile dysfunction (ED). It might seem paradoxical, but ED and PE often go hand in hand.

ED is when it is difficult for a man to achieve or maintain an erection. So when they do experience one, they often try to ejaculate as quickly as they can while they’re still erect. Alternatively, someone with PE might be distressed about early ejaculation to the point that it starts to cause erectile difficulties. 

Then there are psychological factors that could be causing premature ejaculation. Things like stress, guilt, performance anxiety, trauma, depression, and relationship problems can have an impact on a man’s sexual performance. 

Remedies for Premature Ejaculation

PE is highly treatable, and there are a variety of options to consider. For example:

  • When a man feels like he is about to climax, stop the stimulation until the sensation subsides, then start again
  • When a man feels like he is about to climax, squeeze the head of the penis to prevent ejaculation. When the feeling subsides, resume the activity
  • Antidepressants (specifically, SSRIs) can increase levels of serotonin, and are sometimes used as a medical treatment to delay ejaculation (although SSRIs may have unwanted side effects)
  • Tramadol, a pain medication, is another medical treatment that is sometimes used to delay ejaculation
  • Condoms can reduce sensation, thereby delaying orgasm
  • Masturbating a few hours before being intimate can delay ejaculation
  • Using “delay sprays” or desensitizing agents on the penis can delay ejaculation
  • Seek professional assistance from a certified sex therapist for a custom solution based on your individual needs

What Do Women Think About Male Ejaculation?

In a 2018 study, it was found that the time in which a man takes to ejaculate, and the amount that he ejaculates, plays a role in how heterosexual women feel about their sexual experiences. 

In this research, 13.1 percent of women believed that the amount of semen that was expelled by their partner during ejaculation was a direct indication of their own sexual attractiveness

This study also found that 22.6 percent of women experienced more intense orgasms when their male partner ejaculated during vaginal intercourse, and that 17.4 percent of women experienced a more intense orgasm after their male partner’s ejaculation was of a high intensity. 

Interestingly, these same women reported having better lifelong orgasmic functioning, and better sexual satisfaction. This study shows that ejaculation is also an important part of the sexual experience for many women. 

A final word? Men, take care of your prostate! Ejaculate 21 days a month or more… and that’s an order! Just kidding, of course. Ejaculate as often as you like and is comfortable for you—and know that it just might be good for your health to do it often!