Occurring in less than 1% of men with fertility problems, retrograde ejaculation can make it very difficult for a couple to conceive. While it has no health implications, men affected by this condition have their sperm diverted from their ejaculate to the bladder during orgasm.
Retrograde ejaculation can be caused by diabetes, prostate or bladder surgery, spinal cord injuries, or taking certain medications, like high blood pressure or mood altering medications. Because these conditions or medications can weaken the nerves in the bladder neck, the bladder fails to close during climax. Instead of exiting through the urethra as it would normally, the semen enters the bladder.
Signs of this condition include having cloudy urine after ejaculating, little to no semen during ejaculation and possibly infertility. Depending on the cause of the retrograde ejaculation, the condition may or may not be treatable. If certain medications are the reason for the ejaculatory problems, discontinuing their usage will often restore fertility.
However, when retrograde ejaculation is the result of a chronic condition or surgery, little can be done to treat it. Pregnancy may still be possible, though, through intracytoplasmic sperm injection and in vitro fertilization.
Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD