If you or your partner notices that your ejaculate seems to be dry or reduced, it may indicate that you are suffering from retrograde ejaculation. Although it is not especially common, this male fertility problem can impair your ability to conceive.
What is It?
Affecting less than 1% of infertile men, retrograde ejaculation refers to a condition whereby sperm flows backwards into the bladder, rather than forward and out of the body, during ejaculation. Normally during climax, the bladder neck is closed off to stop sperm from flowing into the bladder while at the same time preventing urine from mixing with the ejaculate.
In men that suffer from retrograde ejaculation, the nerves that help the bladder neck to close off are weakened, resulting in the failure to close off the bladder neck when a man orgasms. Therefore, semen enters into the bladder rather than exiting the body through the urethra.
Why Does Retrograde Ejaculation Occur?
There are a variety of conditions that can weaken the nerves that control the bladder neck. This includes:
- Prostate or bladder surgery
- Some medications
- Spinal cord injuries
- Diabetes or other diseases that affect the nervous system
- Abnormal development of the urethra or bladder
Signs of Retrograde Ejaculation
Men who are affected by this condition may not realize it until they begin to experience troubles trying to conceive. However, if you are experiencing fertility problems, there are some subtle signs that you should look out for which can indicate retrograde ejaculation. These symptoms include:
- Cloudy urine after ejaculating
- Little to no ejaculate
- Ejaculate that seems to be "dry"
Treating Retrograde Ejaculation
There is no cure for retrograde ejaculation and, depending on the cause, the condition is not always treatable. Men who are experiencing retrograde ejaculation due to a particular medication they are taking will likely find that the problem resolves itself once they discontinue the drug or switch to another type of medication. However, you should never stop talking a prescribed medicine without first discussing the issue with your health care provider.
In cases where this type of infertility is due to a chronic condition or structural damage, there may be little that can be done to correct the problem. This does not mean that pregnancy will never happen for you, though. Using surgical sperm retrieval methods, it is still possible to help your partner conceive through IVF using ICSI.