RETROGRADE ejaculation occurs when semen which would normally be ejaculated through the urethra during orgasm is redirected to the bladder. It is one cause of male infertility.
Retrograde ejaculation is sometimes called ‘dry orgasm’, meaning that despite the man experiencing orgasm, nothing is emitted from the penis. A man who masturbates will discover the condition for himself.
“Men can produce normal sperm but have retrograde ejaculation, where the semen is not going forward but is going back into the bladder,” explained Dr Richard Mayhew, urologist at the Winchester Surgical and Medical Institute.
“This occurs when the muscles of the bladder wall do not function properly during orgasm and sperm are forced backward into the bladder instead of forward out of the urethra, impairing the quality of the sperm.”
The condition can be caused from surgery to the lower part of the bladder or prostate, diseases such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury or surgery, some types of medication, and aging. Another underlying cause may be ejaculatory duct obstruction.
For the normal man experiencing an orgasm, sperm are released from the epididymi and travel through small tubes called the vas deferens. The sperm mix with seminal fluid in the seminal vesicles, prostate fluid from the prostate gland, and lubricants from the bulbourethral gland. During climax, the muscles at the end of the bladder neck tighten to prevent retrograde flow of semen. But in retrograde ejaculation, these bladder neck muscles are either very weak or the nerves controlling the muscles have become damaged. Retrograde ejaculation is common in men with diabetes. It occurs because diabetes causes the sphincter muscles to not function properly. In most cases, the diagnosis will be made by a primary care doctor or a urologist. After a physical examination the diagnosis usually can be confirmed if a lot of sperm are found in a urine sample after ejaculation. Unfortunately, only some cases can be remedied.
If retrograde ejaculation is as a result of a side effect from medication, the problem may go away when your doctor switches you to a different drug. On the other hand, if your retrograde ejaculation is caused by severe nerve or muscle damage, the condition may be permanent. In some men, retrograde ejaculation requires treatment because it interferes with fertility, and again, the treatment will vary depending on the cause.
If your retrograde ejaculation appears to be related to a mild nerve or muscle problem involving the bladder, then your doctor will treat you with a prescribed drug that improves muscle tone at the bladder entrance. If it is the result of severe damage to the nerves or muscles of your bladder, then it may not be possible to restore normal ejaculation.