Retrograde ejaculation

Retrograde ejaculation is when semen travels backwards into the bladder when you have an orgasm.

3 min

On this page

Spectacles Icon

Medically reviewed by

Dr Darren Katz

What is retrograde ejaculation?

Retrograde ejaculation is when semen travels backwards and enters the bladder when you have an orgasm, instead of going forward, out through the penis.

The prevalence of retrograde ejaculation among all men is not known, but about 1 in 200 men with fertility problems have the condition.

Symptoms of retrograde ejaculation

If you have retrograde ejaculation, you might notice you have very little or even no ejaculate when you reach orgasm. You might also notice your urine is cloudy when urinating after orgasm.

Causes of retrograde ejaculation

Normally when you orgasm and ejaculate, the muscle at the base of the bladder contracts so semen in the urethra travels out through the penis. If this does not occur, or if the muscle does not close off the bladder outlet completely, semen can flow ‘backwards’ into the bladder.

In some cases, there are anatomical causes of retrograde ejaculation (for example, developmental abnormalities).

Diagnosis of retrograde ejaculation

To diagnose retrograde ejaculation, your doctor will ask you some questions, perform an examination, and request a urine sample that’s collected after orgasm. This sample, including any semen present, will be sent to a specialised laboratory for testing.

Medical imaging may be used to look for a possible blockage of the reproductive system that’s preventing semen passing through, or reasons why semen production might be affected.

Treatment of retrograde ejaculation

Retrograde ejaculation is usually treated successfully with medications taken in tablet form, but these can cause side effects. Surgery is rarely used to treat retrograde ejaculation.

Health effects of retrograde ejaculation

Retrograde ejaculation does not have serious implications for your health, but it may reduce your fertility.

If your fertility is affected by retrograde ejaculation and medications are not effective, there are several ways of collecting sperm for use in in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

What to do about retrograde ejaculation

If you have a very small volume (less than 1-2 ml) of ejaculate, or no ejaculate at all, you should see your doctor about it. Although retrograde ejaculation itself is not a serious health problem, it can be caused by conditions that require treatment.

If you have retrograde ejaculation and are having trouble conceiving a pregnancy, your doctor can refer you to someone who can help

What questions should I ask my doctor about retrograde ejaculation?
Retrograde ejaculation

Did you find this page helpful?

Information provided on this website is not a substitute for medical advice

Call 000 for emergency services

If you or someone you know needs urgent medical attention.

Call MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78 for 24/7 support

MensLine Australia is a telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns.

Sign up to our newsletter

We release two monthly newsletters – one written for men, family and friends, and another for health practitioners.

Your preferred mailing list

Your name

Your email

Stay up to date


Healthy Male acknowledges the traditional owners of the land. We pay our respects to elders past, present and future. We are committed to providing respectful, inclusive services and work environments where all individuals feel accepted, safe, affirmed and celebrated.


Healthy Male is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. This website does not host any form of advertisement. Information provided on this website is not a substitute for medical advice.

Trusted information partner of