by Shamus MacDuff
My first dry orgasm surprised me. I was reveling in the myriad delightful sensations of my orgasm, when my partner observed that there was no semen. Really? It felt the same as other orgasms with ejaculation. This struck me as unusual or even unnatural. My partner reassured me that a “dry orgasm in men” was normal – the first I’d heard that term! I didn’t know then that ejaculation is unnecessary to experience orgasm.
“Ejaculation is an event that takes place in the penis,” explains Dr. Andrew Siegel. “Orgasm occurs in the brain.” Occasional orgasms without ejaculation — “dry orgasms” — are common as we age, and in most cases are no cause for alarm. A dry orgasm occurs when a penis owner reaches sexual climax without ejaculation — no fluid emerges from the penis.
As penis owners, we’re used to sexual climax involving these components:
- Emission (secretions deposited into the urethra)
- Ejaculation (contractions of the pelvic floor muscles that push the seminal fluid out the urethra in an explosive eruption)
- Orgasm (the intense emotional feelings that accompany the physical act of ejaculation)
Many of us are surprised and worried the first time we have a dry orgasm. Thankfully, in most cases, there’s nothing to fret about. It is quite common to climax and ejaculate “wetly” in some sexual encounters, and to orgasm “dryly” on other occasions.
Like me, most penis owners experience intense pleasure when orgasming, whether it’s wet or dry. Dry orgasms happen normally from time to time. Their frequency increases with age, as they accompany other age-related changes. Michael Castleman, sex journalist for 46 years and author of Sizzling Sex for Life: How to Maximize Erotic Pleasure at Any Age, explains,
“Menopausal women notice vaginal dryness and atrophy. Men notice that the volume of fluid in their ejaculations gradually declines, and in some men over 70, more or less disappears.”
With aging, the prostate gland enlarges. The pelvic floor muscles also weaken, diminishing the power of ejaculation. These are normal age changes and may contribute to dry orgasms. There’s usually no reason for worry about the occasional dry orgasm. However, if you begin to experience dry orgasms regularly, consult a doctor to find out what might be causing this.
Some medical conditions may contribute to frequent dry orgasms, such as surgery to remove the prostate as a treatment for prostate cancer. As Michael Castleman notes, “Afterwards, they still come, but any seminal fluid spurts not out of the penis, but backwards into the bladder, where it mixes with urine and leaves the body during urination.”
Medical causes for dry orgasms include
- Removal of the prostate and seminal glands
- Laser prostate surgery
- Radiotherapy to treat prostate cancer
- Operations for testicular and bladder cancer
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal cord injuries
- Some drugs, such as Flomax to control urinary problems and various blood pressure and psychiatric medications
- Severe emotional stress and other situational psychological issues
All of us experience changes in our sexual selves as we age. We take longer to reach an erection (here’s where sex toys and lubricants can assist!), and our erections are not as firm or reliable as they once were. Our refractory period after ejaculation increases, and the amount of ejaculate we produce decreases. On occasion, we don’t produce seminal fluid, and we experience a dry orgasm.
All of this is simply a normal part of growing older and no cause for upset. I find that when my own dry orgasms occur, they are every bit as powerful and satisfying as their juicier and more frequent counterparts. I wish you the same. And, if you’re still worried, consider this comment from Michael Castleman:
“Dry orgasm has advantages. No wet spot. Women who never liked semen in their mouths and/or swallowing can provide fellatio more happily. And older men can self-sex with less messy evidence to dispose of. The key thing is to alert older men that this happens, that it’s normal and no big deal.”
I invite you to comment and share your own experience with dry orgasms.
- “Ejaculation: What to Expect As You Age,” New Jersey Urology
- “Is It Normal, Doc? Five Changes All Men Experience as They Age,” Tower Urology
- “Should Men Worry About Dry Orgasms?” Sexual Medicine Society of North America
- “Dry Orgasm: Why It Happens and What You Can Do,” Healthline
— Shamus MacDuff, age 77, has been writing for this blog since 2017, when he wrote the popular post, “Sex without Penetration: A Man’s View.” Since then, he has become my reviewer of sex toys for penis owners. Read Shamus MacDuff’s other posts.
I recently have been cumming but some times it is clear not allways and occasionally I will be dry but still orgasm as intensly as ever
I will have dry orgasm for weeks and then one day I ejaculate semen with sperm. What is going on. I am 77 and enjoy DO. I also have type 2 diabetes
I’m a seventy two year old male who no longer is able to produce ejaculate. My wife is a year older than me and suffers from vaginal dryness and penetrative sex is too painful for her. I’m still able to maintain a solid erection so with plenty of foreplay and lubricant I can masturbate until orgasm and with proper fondling I can stimulate arousal from her as well. Thanks doctor for such an enlightening article.
I’m 68 and prostate cancer resulted in prostate removal at age 51. Obviously orgasms have been dry since. Some orgasms a very intense, some not so. The intense ones are NOTHING like those experienced through ejaculation. The intensity for me is unreal. To be honest, and maybe too graphic, I do miss shooting a load. Maybe it’s a manhood thing?
Three cheers for Shamus McDuff! Great to see a 77 year old who is both interested in sex and able adjust to the inevitable changes that come along with age. I’m 79, and continue to enjoy sex with my wife of 50 years though not as often as when I was a lad of 60ish. I thought I was the only one who experienced the dry orgasm, and the need to get mentally stoked for the act with some porn, fantasy, or toys. I consider this an evolution of my sexuality, and a willingness to let go of some of my “guy stuff’ that always dictated the boundaries of my sexual playing field. It came as a shock to me that it didn’t really matter that I was always very strongly stimulated when a partner went rogue and did some back door stuff. Finding that my prostate was a powerful engine for the “new orgasm” was a revelation, and led to alternatives to the P-in-V paradigm. At a certain age, we need to see some things as an evolution, rather than a perversion’.
What a great article and explanation of what was a very traumatic occurrence for me the first time it happened. At age 82, both my wife and I have accepted the fact that erections are not as firm and that it takes longer to orgasm. It took some time to convince my lover that ” yes, I did have an orgasm, and no , I am not frustrated.”
My , how the tables have turned. Longer foreplay required for the male and a hint of doubt that he didn’t come. Initially, my partner voiced concern that she wasn’t satisfying me and that somehow , she was responsible for my lack of ejaculation.
As is always the case, open communication and time spent cuddling after making love has lessened the concerns of aging and the ever changing aspect of our love life.
Thank you Shamus for your article
I am spinal cord injured and have type 2 diabetes. I have not had an erection or orgasm in many years. I wonder if I can get erect will i have dry orgasms.
I hope you have a sex-positive doctor whom you can trust with this question. These articles might be a starting point for self-exploration or discussion: