The avoidance of male ejaculation either through sexual abstinence, or by practicing sexual intercourse without ejaculation.
Importantly, semen retention does not refer to the avoidance of orgasm. In this practice, orgasm is separated from ejaculation, making it possible to enjoy the full pleasure of sexual intercourse - including orgasm - without experiencing seminal ejaculation.
Semen retention is an ancient practice, believed to maximize male physical and spiritual energy. Much of the history appears to be rooted in Taoist sexual practices.
Worldwide, this practice exists in many cultures, under different names;
Semen retention is not to be confused with modern-day practices such as NoFap and Orgasm control. Although both of these treat Orgasm and ejaculation specially, they ultimately permit ejaculation-
Practitioners ascribe near-mystical superpower qualities to semen conservation, which include;
This post on r/NoFAP equates semen retention to steroids.
I radiate masculinity and so do all people who practice Semen Retention. ... my opinion is that semen retention is comparable to taking steroids, because both ENORMOUSLY increase your testosterone. But from semen retention you actually live longer, unlike with steroids where you're likely to die with 30-35.
An purported example of the strength afforded from semen conservation;
The simplest, and therefore perhaps the easist method of semen retention is sexual abstinence, which avoids both orgasm and ejaculation.
Those that engage in sexual union with a partner, and wish to experience orgasm without ejaculation, use two primary methods to avoid ejaculation;
In theory, semen retention could be practiced during masturbation. However this is not described in the Taoist texts- perhaps because it precludes the Joining of the essences between the male and the female.
An important question is whether there exists actual scientific evidence that semen retention could be causing the above perceived benefits.
It turns out that there appear to be five scientifically-measurable areas of impact of semen retention;
The most scientifically provable result of semen retention is likely to be increased testosterone. This study on male masturbation determined that;
When men don't masturbate for 7 days their testosterone levels increase by 45.7%
Significant testosterone increase could explain a number of the purported physical benefits, including deeper voice, thicker hair, greater strength and power and weight loss.
It may also explain some of the psychological benefits, including increased energy and focus, increased courage, self-confidence, and by correlation, the "chick magnet" effect.
This post suggests that androgen receptors play an important role.
Testosterone does nothing for you if you don't have androgen receptors (ARs). ARs are what allow your body to use testosterone, such as to develop a deep voice and other manly traits. Without ARs, testosterone is useless. ... Porn / frequent masturbation hasn't been proven, at least in the short term, to really affect testosterone levels, however, overly active sexual activity/satiety (such as porn with frequent masturbation) has been proven, at least in lab mice, to significantly reduce the amount of androgen receptors in the body. It also upregulates estrogen receptors. It takes at least 15 days of abstinence to reverse these brain changes.
Citing the following studies;
This article offers some excellent insights on the role of Prolactin...
[Following ejaculation] two events happen simultaneously. Dopamine plummets and prolactin soars. Dopamine is "go get it!" and prolactin is "whoa!" This mechanism shifts your attention elsewhere: to hunting and gathering, taking care of babies, building shelters, and so forth. Without this natural, protective shutdown, you would pursue sex to the exclusion of all other activities.
This post suggests that the reduction of prolactin has many benefits.
Jing is the life force. It nourishes, fuels, and cools the body, and is an important concept in internal martial arts. One is said to be born with a fixed amount of jīng (pre-natal jīng, also sometimes called yuan qi) and also can acquire jīng from food and various forms of stimulation (exercise, study, meditation.) Jīng is therefore considered quite important for longevity.
Jing's most concentrated form is believed to be in semen, therefore releasing semen outside of the body, through ejaculation, is a directly a loss of Jing. In sexual intercourse with a woman, this powerful energy is used to create a new life- however when reproduction is curtailed (birth control, pulling out, or masturbation), that energy is simply wasted.
The production of semen in men, and menstrual blood in women, is considered to be the biggest strain on jing.
Many Taoist practitioners link the loss of ejaculatory fluids to the loss of vital life force: where excessive fluid loss results in premature aging, disease, and general fatigue.
The general idea is to limit the loss of fluids as much as possible to the level of your desired practice.
Another important concept of "The Joining of the Essences" was that the union of a man and a woman would result in the creation of jing, a type of sexual energy. When in the act of lovemaking, jing would form, and the man could transform some of this jing into qi, and replenish his lifeforce. By having as much sex as possible, men had the opportunity to transform more and more jing, and as a result would see many health benefits.
Read more about Jing here.
In Hinduism, similar ideas exist;
Shakti (शक्ति, or Śakti) literally translates as power, ability, strength, might, effort, energy, capability. It is believed to be the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism and Shaktism.
Hindus believe that Shakti is both responsible for creation and the agent of all change.
The most significant form of Shakti is thought to be the Kundalini Shakti, a mysterious psychospiritual force which is said to be located at the base of the spine, equating with intense form of creative, sexual energy.
This practice extends to so many cultures and timeperiods, that it could be far more thoroughly researched. A few key historical notes;
Some Taoist sects during the Han dynasty performed sexual intercourse as a spiritual practice, called "Héqì" (合气, "Joining Energy").
Many Taoist practitioners link the loss of ejaculatory fluids to the loss of vital life force: where excessive fluid loss results in premature aging, disease, and general fatigue. While some Taoists contend that one should never ejaculate, others provide a specific formula to determine the maximum amount of regular ejaculations in order to maintain health.
The basis of all Taoist thinking is that qi (lifeforce) is part of everything in existence. Qi is related to another energetic substance contained in the human body known as jing (精) (essence), and once all this has been expended the body dies.
Jing can be lost in many ways, but most notably through the loss of body fluids. Taoists may use practices to stimulate/increase and conserve their bodily fluids to great extents.
The fluid believed to contain the most Jing is semen. Therefore, Taoists believe in decreasing the frequency of, or totally avoiding, ejaculation in order to conserve life essence.
When driven by [sexual] desire, men develop keenness of imagination, courage, will-power, persistence, and creative ability unknown to them at other times. So strong and impelling is the desire for sexual contact that men freely run the risk of life and reputation to indulge it. When harnessed, and redirected along other lines, this motivating force maintains all of its attributes of keenness of imagination, courage, etc., which may be used as powerful creative forces in literature, art, or in any other profession or calling, including, of course, the accumulation of riches.
- Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich
Scientists & Businessmen;
Creatives (Musicians & Writers & Actors);
Some quotes and writings from some of the above semen retention practitioners can be found here.
30 day recovery period post-orgasm for a man
David Deida discusses tantric style sex and retrograde ejaculation in his book The Way of the Superior Man.
An interview-style discussion of semen retention practice;
And many more...