Ejaculation is when you release semen (cum) from your penis. It usually happens when a person with a penis reaches orgasm (sexual climax), but it can also happen without orgasm.

What is ejaculation?

Ejaculation is when a sticky liquid (semen or cum) comes out of your penis. It most often happens after an orgasm (a sexual release), but can also happen without an orgasm.


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What happens when you ejaculate?

Your nervous system controls ejaculation. Nerves that go from your reproductive system to parts of your spinal cord force semen out of your penis when sexual excitement reaches a critically high level.

Ejaculation has two phases: emission and expulsion.

  1. Emission phase: In the first phase, sperm moves to your prostate from your testicles and mixes with fluid to create semen. Your vas deferens (the tubes that store and transport semen from your testes) contract to squeeze the semen toward the base of your penis.
  2. Expulsion phase: In the second phase, muscles at the base of your penis contract every 0.8 seconds and force or shoot the semen out of your penis in several spurts.

How often should a man ejaculate?

There isn’t a set amount for how often you should ejaculate. Research shows ejaculation has many health benefits such as reducing a person’s risk for prostate cancer. But there isn’t evidence that shows not ejaculating causes health problems. As the results are inconclusive, it’s best to have a discussion with your healthcare provider if you have concerns about how frequently you ejaculate.


What happens if you hold ejaculation in?

Holding ejaculation in or stopping yourself from ejaculation when you reach the point of orgasm isn’t truly possible, as it’s an automatic response. If you’re bothered by premature ejaculation, talk to a healthcare provider, as there may be treatments to help you delay ejaculation.

At what age does ejaculation start?

Ejaculation typically starts when a person begins producing sperm around the age of puberty. Puberty happens at different times for different people. Generally, people start puberty between 10 and 12 years old. This means a person may ejaculate for the first time within this age range. A person usually ejaculates for the first time during a “wet dream” or after masturbating. Again, the exact timing varies, but you can expect a person to be able to ejaculate within several months to a year of puberty beginning. You can still masturbate without ejaculation. Many young people experience pleasure and masturbate before they can ejaculate.


What are the most common ejaculation problems?

There are three main ejaculation problems you may experience:

  • Premature ejaculation: When you ejaculate sooner than you or your partner would like. This timing can vary depending on the person, but it’s very common.
  • Delayed ejaculation: It takes a lot of sexual stimulation for you to ejaculate. Some people don’t ejaculate at all. For example, someone who needs sexual intercourse for 45 minutes before they ejaculate may be experiencing delayed ejaculation.
  • Retrograde ejaculation: A condition that causes semen to flow backward into your urethra and bladder instead of out of your penis.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you think you have a problem with ejaculation. There are treatment options to help you.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Ejaculation is when you release semen from your penis. It most often occurs during sexual climax or orgasm. There are several disorders associated with ejaculation. Contact a healthcare provider if you believe you have a problem with ejaculation.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 05/08/2023.

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