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Anonymous on September 1, 2011

Is there a difference between orgasm and ejaculation?

It is possible for a man to ejaculate without having an orgasm, and vice versa? The terms "orgasm" and "ejaculation" seem to be used interchangeably, which is confusing to me. Do both words mean the same thing?

answered by
David Sobel, MD, JD on September 1, 2011

I’m glad you asked this question, as the difference between orgasm and ejaculation is confusing for many people. For most men, the act of ejaculation and the sensation of orgasm occur together and are therefore often referred to interchangeably.

But you bring up a good point…ejaculation and orgasm don’t actually need to happen at the same time. Why? Ejaculation and orgasm are two separate responses to stimulation. Ejaculation refers to the physical reflex that releases semen, and orgasm refers to the feeling of climax or pleasure as a result of physical and/or psychological stimulation.

For some men, orgasm and ejaculation both happen…but not at the same time. Some men may ejaculate after orgasm or before orgasm. Some men may not ejaculate at all. Other men might ejaculate but fail to orgasm.

If a man experiences early, late or no ejaculation, it’s time to see a doctor or urologist. Several different health conditions may influence the way a man’s body responds to stimulation. One example isretrograde ejaculation which occurs when, instead of exiting out of the penis, semen flows into the bladder. While this usually isn’t harmful to a man’s health, he may notice that he doesn’t ejaculate when he orgasms…and, in some cases, retrograde ejaculation can signal a complication with diabetes or medications.

So, again, it’s a good idea to keep your doctor informed if you’re not ejaculating normally.

Thanks again for writing, and I wish you good health.

Related info:

David Sobel, MD, JD

Dr. Sobel is a Colorado-based urologist and Director of the Denver Center for Men’s Health. His areas of expertise include men's sexual health and all areas of urology, including urologic oncology, treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy, stone disease and incontinence. Dr. Sobel was educated at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, and completed his residency at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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