Semen leakage typically happens in response to sexual arousal, whether conscious or not. Leaks that happen in the night during sleep are some of the most common, and are usually harmless. In some cases emissions happen as a result of nerve problems or issues with the prostate, an organ that sits just behind the testes. Injury and simple old age are sometimes to blame, as well as certain prescription medications. In more serious cases prostate growths or cancer might be the explanation. Men who are worried about semen leakage should normally talk to a healthcare expert to rule out these conditions and get advice on how to minimize spills.
Nocturnal emissions, sometimes called “wet dreams,” are basically ejaculations that happen during sleep. These most often happen in response to a sexually arousing dream, but not always; particularly in boys going through puberty, the penis sometimes ejects semen involuntarily in the night as something of a “practice” or “warm-up,” and this is generally considered a normal part of young adult development.
Most of the time men grow out of these sorts of emissions by their mid-20s, but not always. Rare or infrequent leaks are not usually anything to be concerned about, but if a man finds himself waking each day to semen-soaked sheets, he may want to talk to his doctor about ways to control the issue.
Some men find that they leak a bit of seminal fluid during they day, usually while having sexual thoughts or talking with or about someone they find to be sexually attractive. Like nocturnal emissions, these leaks tend to be most common in young men, but they can happen at any age. While potentially embarrassing, this isn’t usually a medical problem.
Unless a man is leaking a lot during sexual thoughts, his emissions may not actually be semen at all. The male body typically releases a clear, tacky fluid from the tip of the penis just before sexual intercourse that can serve to lubricate the shaft and make penetration easier. This is often known as a “natural lubricant,” and doesn’t usually contain sperm. Sexual thoughts often trigger its release, which is normally harmless.
Some medications cause semen leakage as a side effect, though the intensity and frequency can vary from man to man. Antidepressants are some of the most common, but other mood stabilizers and certain hormone therapies can also have this result. Most of the time this is simply a factor of the way the drugs interact with the pleasure and sexual activity centers of the brain. This effect may wear off on its own, but if not getting another prescription or switching medications may be the best course for men troubled by the occasional leak.
Parasympathetic Nerve Problems
A weak parasympathetic nerve may also be a cause. The parasympathetic nervous system is quite extensive and controls many different sensations in the body, but sexual feelings and reproductive functions are included. When nerve endings in the penis, testicles, or prostate are weak leaks can sometimes result. Men with this problem often drip seminal fluid after urination, during bowel movements, or shortly after sexual intercourse.
Understanding a bit about male anatomy can sometimes make the nervous system’s role in leakage a little bit easier to understand. The urethra, which transports urine from the bladder through the penis, is a passageway that both sperm and semen flow through, too. The parasympathetic nerve acts a control to the valve that closes this passageway and retains all fluids. When the nerve becomes weak, the valve can also become weak, and semen may escape prematurely and involuntarily.
A weak parasympathetic nerve can be caused by a number of different things. Sometimes it’s genetic, but it can also be caused by injury to the groin or old age. Excessive masturbation or sex can also be to blame. Medical professionals can sometimes repair serious nerve damage with surgery, and often recommend specialized exercises and stretches to improve strength and control.
Men who have swollen, enlarged, or infected prostate glands may also leak from time to time. The prostate is a small organ that helps nourish and protect sperm by secreting a number of different fluids; when it functions properly these fluids stay put until ejaculation, but when there are problems they can be released early.
Prostatitis, or unnatural swelling and inflammation of the prostate, is one of the most common causes of this sort of leaking. Some men are predisposed to this condition genetically, but many experts also think it’s most common in men who have frequent ejaculations, which can lead to an overactive prostate.
Prostate congestion can also contribute. This usually happens when a man goes from frequent ejaculations to few or none, which can lead to clogs and swelling. Congested semen is sometimes involuntarily released when the man is in certain positions, particularly squatting or sitting.
Prostate cancer, a very serious condition, might also be to blame. Growths or cysts anywhere on the gland or along the urinary tract could be a cause as well. Cancers and benign growths often require surgery or other invasive treatments to cure, and leaks are usually just one of many symptoms.
When to Get Help
Occasional leaks aren’t usually any cause for great concern, but men who are worried about the amount or frequency of their discharges should usually get medical help. Leaking that is accompanied by pain, blood, or foul-smelling liquid or puss is often a sign of infection or other serious condition, and discharges accompanied by erections that last an unusually long time should also be evaluated in most cases. Most doctors recommend that men keep track of their leaks and get examined if the frequency or timing changes dramatically.