Ejaculation and Male Fertility

Ejaculation is the climactic point of male sexual arousal. During ejaculation, semen is ejected from the penis. How ejaculation occurs, what makes up semen, and how semen is produced are common questions.

This article looks at ejaculate, its composition and production, and its role in male fertility.

A container with a sperm analysis being examined by a doctor

Aleksandr Zubkov / Getty Images

How Semen is Produced and What it's Made Of

Ejaculation occurs when semen is released from the penis. It typically takes place during orgasm. Before it occurs, a small amount of pre-ejaculate is usually released. This is sometimes called pre-cum. It drips from the head of your penis when you are aroused.

Pre-ejaculate is made up of one or two drops of alkaline fluid. This fluid comes from the Cowper's glands, two small glands beneath the prostate. The alkaline fluid neutralizes acid that remains in the urethra after you urinate. The urethra is the tube that carries urine and semen to the outside of your body.

Orgasm is the final stage of male sexual arousal. During orgasm, semen flows from the urethra. It first comes out in a gush and then diminishes in volume.

Around 50% to 65% of the semen in an ejaculation comes from the seminal vesicles. These are two small glands located above the prostate. Another 20% to 30% comes from the prostate and gives semen its characteristic smell. The rest of your ejaculate is made up of other body fluids.

Sperm gives semen its milky appearance. The more sperm is in the semen, the more opaque it becomes.


Semen is produced in the seminal vesicles and prostate. Sperm is what gives semen its milky appearance.

What Happens When You Ejaculate

When you ejaculate, semen is expelled out of the penis through the urethra. The word "ejaculate" can also be used as a noun meaning "semen."

Most males ejaculate an average of 2 ml to 3 ml of semen. This is roughly equal to a teaspoon.

How Common Are Multiple Orgasms?

Multiple orgasms are rarer for males than for females. The ability to ejaculate repeatedly varies greatly from person to person. It also begins to decline almost immediately after puberty.

Most males can have only one ejaculation within a period of one to two hours. This is called the refractory period.

Some can have a second ejaculation within two hours, and some can have three or four, though this is uncommon. The well-known sex researcher Alfred Kinsey recorded one male who was able to ejaculate six to eight times in a single session.

Ejaculation and Male Fertility

Depending on the underlying factors, the volume of ejaculate may affect your ability to get someone pregnant. That being said, conception can still occur with a small amount of semen. This is why withdrawing before orgasm may still lead to pregnancy.

Generally speaking, a sperm count of under 39 million per ejaculation or 15 million per milliliter reduces the chance you will get someone pregnant.

If you and your partner are trying to conceive, there are things you can do to improve your odds- including minimizing risk factors such as scrotal heat, cigarette smoking, and ensuring health dietary intake and optimizing management of any medical conditions. The female partner should also have a work-up with an OB/GYN to ensure her reproductive system is functioning normally.

If you're struggling with fertility, ask your doctor about a semen analysis. This will help you understand if your semen is contributing to the problem.


Semen is primarily produced in the seminal vesicles and prostate. When you ejaculate, it is released from your body through your urethra.

It only takes a small amount of semen to get someone pregnant. If you are trying to conceive, a semen analysis can help you understand what your sperm count is, so you can take steps to improve your odds.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Alwaal A, Breyer BN, Lue TF. Normal male sexual function: emphasis on orgasm and ejaculation. Fertil Steril. 2015;104(5):1051-60. doi:10.1016%2Fj.fertnstert.2015.08.033

  2. Killick SR, Leary C, Trussell J, Guthrie KA. Sperm content of pre-ejaculatory fluid. Hum Fertil (Camb). 2011;14(1):48-52. doi:10.3109%2F14647273.2010.520798

  3. National Cancer Institute. SEER Training Modules. Accessory Glands.

  4. Alwaal A, Breyer BN, Lue TF. Normal male sexual function: emphasis on orgasm and ejaculation. Fertil Steril. 2015;104(5):1051-60. doi:10.1016%2Fj.fertnstert.2015.08.033

  5. Lawrentschuk N, Ptasznik G, Ong S. Benign prostate disorders. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth, Mass: MDText.com, Inc.; 2021.

  6. Wibowo E, Wassersug RJ. Multiple orgasms in men-what we know so far. Sex Med Rev. 2016;4(2):136-148. doi:10.1016/j.sxmr.2015.12.004

  7. Kinsey AC, Pomeroy WB, Martin CE. Sexual behavior in the human male. Indiana University Press; 1998.

  8. Mahdi BM. Semen analysis and insight into male infertilityOpen Access Maced J Med Sci. 2021;9(A):252-256. doi:10.3889/oamjms.2021.5911

  9. International Planned Parenthood Federation. Myths and Facts About the Withdrawl Method.

By Jerry Kennard
 Jerry Kennard, PhD, is a psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society.