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Semen production and effects of abstinence

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Is semen produced continuously, or only during sexual stimulation? How is semen production related to abstinence and "edging" (stimulation with delayed ejaculation)? If I masturbate for a long time and do not ejaculate at the end, what happens to the semen produced? Is it saved for future release, or simply absorbed/discarded? If I abstain for three days before ejaculation, will my semen volume be greater or less if I "edge" (without release) during the abstaining period? In other words, after edging with no release, is my three day "buildup clock" reset to day one? In either case, what are the reasons for your answer? Thanks.

Category: Internal Medicine Specialist

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Category: HIV- AIDS Specialist
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Semen is produced continuously, but ejaculation happens after sexual stimulation. Semen production as such is not affected by abstinence directly. But indirectly if ejaculation happens daily there is depletion of sperm stores. When abstinence is there, sperm stores are higher due to accumulation and thus affects the amount of sperm released.

Edging(stimulation with delayed ejaculation) also works in the same way as abstinence, as no ejaculation happens at least for 2-3 times of ejaculation over a period of couple of days. If ejaculation happens even after 2-3 times of stimulation but with in a period of less than a day, then chances of sperm depletion are present.

Studies suggest that ejaculation happening every other day produces healthy, motile sperm in good numbers, while ejaculation happening every day might show low sperm counts. Also, if abstinence takes place for more than a week, quality and motility of the sperm are affected. In oligospermic men, this interval is much less.(only upto two days).

Sperm stay inside the seminal vesicles if ejaculation does not happen. They do stay for a long period which varies from person to person and eventually break down like the blood cells and new sperm are made up for them.

Your semen volume will definitely be more if there has been no ejaculation during the abstinence period even though edging was present. As, mentioned earlier if ejaculation does not happen for less than 7 days in a healthy male, sperm count, quality morphology and semen volume are good. After this period chances of deterioration in sperm quality takes place.

If you are not oligospermic, then three day semen build would have a positive effect on the semen and sperm quality.

As long as the sperm is inside the seminal vesicles nourishment continues, hence the quality and motility are good . But if this period is prolonged then as with any cells in our body aging occurs and they get damaged. Also, alcohol, smoking, chemicals in the environment does affect the quality of sperm.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to get back with any follow-up queries.
Thank you.

Patient replied :

Thanks for your detailed reply. I have a couple followup questions.

If I understand your answer correctly, the fluids in the seminal vesicles (fructose etc) are proportional in quantity to the amount of semen produced, and these fluids are produced continuously just as semen is. Stimulation itself does not produce extra fluid or semen in the vesicles. Also the fluid stored in the vesicles is not depleted if stimulation occurs without ejaculation. Please let me know if I am correct in all this.

Are there any components of semen that are produced only during sexual stimulation? For example, secretions from the prostate? If so, what happens to these fluids if there is stimulation without ejaculation? Are they also "stored" for later use, and if so, for how long? Is the quantity of these fluids proportional to the length of stimulation time? After stimulation without ejaculation, is there a recovery time required for these glands to produce fluid at their highest "rate" (fluid volume per unit stimulation time)?


Thank you for writing back. Yes you are correct up to the part that sperm and seminal fluid are continuously produced and are not affected by stimulation. But semen that is ejaculated also contains prostate secretions and together called as semen. This is influenced by stimulation and ejaculatory process.Yes, the liquid content in the semen is not depleted if ejaculation has not happened.

Prostrate secretions are produced in response to sexual stimulation. If ejaculation does not happen, these fluids remain the body, but not for a long time. They as other cells in the body age and break down. Fresh semen is produced. The time these fluids remain inside the body is variable and depends upon various factors like age, oligospemic individuals, effect of smoking and alcohol, stress etc.

The amount of prostatic secretions could be proportional to amount of stimulation to an extent, but semen volume does not increase with prolonged stimulation.
For prostrate secretions, yes it would require recovery time, but as far as seminal fluid is concerned it is continuously produced.

Hope this helps, please feel free to discuss further.


Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy
Category: HIV- AIDS Specialist
MBBS from Sri Ramachandra University in December 2011
M.Med (Family Medicine) - TNMGR University, Chennai
MBA-MPH in Public Health in March 2016, SRM University
Finished AFIH in March 2016, SRM University
MRCP ( UK ), Internal Medicine, Royal College of Physicians, June 2016
Fellowship in Diabetology from Martin Luther University in January 2017

Currently Resident Physician, in MD Radiodiagnosis - Kamakshi Memorial Hospital, Chennai
Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy and 4 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you

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