Retrograde ejaculation is a condition that prevents a man from ejaculating semen during sexual intercourse. This can, unsurprisingly, lead to infertility. What are the symptoms of retrograde ejaculation, and what are the possible treatments?
What is retrograde ejaculation?
During normal male ejaculation, sperm are released from the testicles. They travel up through the vas deferens, small tubes leading from the scrotum to the penis. The sperm mix with seminal fluid, and the mixture is then ejaculated via the urethra after the bladder sphincter closes. Retrograde ejaculation is a situation in which the bladder sphincter does not contract properly. The bladder then becomes the easier exit for the sperm, instead of the urethra.
Men who suffer from retrograde ejaculation can still have an orgasm, but with very little to no semen coming out. That is why retrograde ejaculation is also sometimes referred to as a dry orgasm. Infertility is an obvious expected consequence of this problem. We will get to that in the next section. It is worth mentioning that retrograde ejaculation is not medically dangerous, though. The semen that ends up in the bladder simply comes out with the man’s urine, instead. Cloudy urine is one symptom that may give the problem away.
Retrograde ejaculation can be caused by a variety of things. They include certain medications (especially hypertension meds), health problems (including diabetes and multiple sclerosis), and even surgery. Any man who notices that ejaculation doesn’t produce semen may like to see a doctor about this in any circumstance, but especially if they would like to get their partner pregnant.
Retrograde ejaculation and infertility
Some men who suffer from retrograde ejaculation will still have some semen coming out with their ejaculations. In this case, there is certainly a reduced chance that the man will get his partner pregnant. There is less sperm in the ejaculate that reaches the female reproductive system, after all. But pregnancy may still be possible. Men who ejaculate small amounts of semen may still like to see a doctor if they are trying to conceive, and should not rely on their condition as “birth control” if they do not want to have a baby.
Retrograde ejaculation can be treated with medication in some men. Those who have the problem because of a physical injury, or as the result of a surgery, will not benefit from medical treatment. But those men who have nerve damage as the result of a health condition such as diabetes may well benefit from certain medications. The drugs that doctors sometimes use to correct retrograde ejaculation were not designed for that purpose. They are antihistamines, antidepressants, and decongestants.
Men whose retrograde ejaculation is actually caused by medication may have another possibility — stopping their drug regime for a while, during the period in which they are trying to conceive, or switching to other medications that may not cause the same problem. Needless to say, this is always something that should be done under strict medical supervision.
Cases that are caused by physical problems cannot be cured by medication. These men can still have the chance to become biological fathers with the help of artificial reproductive techniques. ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) is a form of IVF in which one sperm is directly injected into one egg. Men who do produce sperm but cannot ejaculate it can benefit from this procedure by having sperm harvested directly from the testicles. Sperm can also be recovered from the bladder, medically processed, and then used in ART techniques.
Retrograde ejaculation is only one of many causes of male infertility. If you are affected by this problem, or your partner is, you will like to know that many men who have retrograde ejaculation are indeed able to father children once they seek treatment. Do not try to conceive naturally for 12 months before seeking treatment if you suspect you suffer from retrograde ejaculation. Fertility treatments have a lower chance of success as the female partner gets older, so you will benefit from treatment as soon as possible.
We would love to hear from men and women whose family planning was disrupted by retrograde ejaculation. How did you find out about the problem? What was seeking treatment like? And most of all, did you get treatment and did you manage to become parents in the end? If you would like to share your story, please leave a comment below.