Plenty of men say their best sex happens after 40. But as you rack up years you’ll probably notice some changes to your libido, your erections—and your ejaculations. Eruptions that once had the volume and trajectory of a fire hose may now have the intensity of a coiled-up garden hose, which can cause you to worry.
A reduction in ejaculation volume or intensity is rarely a sign of concern, say experts.
Here’s a look at how aging affects your ejaculations, and the best ways to safeguard your ejaculations from the ravages of Father Time.
How Does Ejaculation Work?
Before we talk about how and why your emissions might change as you get older, it’s worth going over what actually happens when you ejaculate.
Ejaculation is a complicated dance controlled by your central nervous system. It involves your brain and muscles in your pelvic region.
There are two phases to every ejaculation.
In the first phase, once an adequate level of arousal has been reached, nerves from the central nervous system send signals to the vas deferens—tubes that take sperm from your testes—to deposit the sperm that was made in the testicles, into the urethra, where they mix with fluids (semen) from the prostate and seminal vesicles to create ejaculate.
In the second phase, your bulbocavernosus muscles (BC) which cover the base of your penis—along with the levator muscles in your pelvis—rhythmically create wave-like contractions that move the ejaculate down and out of the urethra, says urologist Joshua Calvert, M.D.
These contractions happen every 0.8 seconds during ejaculation, forcing semen out of your penis in up to five spurts.
What Happens to Ejaculations as You Age?
Lower ejaculate force and volume are expected as you age. Here’s what to expect.
Your ejaculations might feel less forceful
What actually makes your member erupt like a geyser? Muscles. Specifically, your BC muscles and pelvic floor muscles. And like other muscles, they weaken with age. As they decline, so too does your ejaculatory force.
Pelvic floor exercises, like Kegels, can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, says Calvert.
Kegels are discrete and easy. You can do them while watching TV or driving in your car. Just clench the muscles in your pelvic floor that you’d tighten to stop the flow of pee mid-stream.
Regularly doing three sets of 10 reps, three times a day can strengthen your BC and pelvic floor muscles.
You may ejaculate less
While porn sets have you believe you ejaculate buckets, five cubic centimeters (cc) —the higher end of normal ejaculate volume—only equals one teaspoon. On average, the volume of an ejaculation is between 1.5 cc and five cc, says Calvert.
One study published in the Journal of Andrology, with participants ranging in age from 45 to 80 years, did find semen volume and sperm motility—sperm’s ability to move efficiently—declined with age (1).
How hydrated you are is a major factor when it comes to ejaculate volume, Calvert says. Drinking more water can increase your semen volume because you have a higher fluid content in your body, he says.
But remember, more isn’t necessarily better. “Higher volumes of semen do not mean higher testosterone levels, or greater virility or even increased fertility,” says Calvert.
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What Makes Up Your Ejaculate?
Only a small percentage of ejaculate is actually sperm. The majority of semen is a milky fluid made by the seminal vesicles—a pair of ducts that sit behind your prostate and bladder and help produce semen—and the prostate gland.
Fluid from the seminal vesicles contains fructose—to help fuel sperm cells—and has an alkaline pH component. The prostate contributes an acidic protein called prostate-specific antigen (PSA), Calvert says.
“These fluids all come together to optimize the likelihood that sperm is transmitted as high up into the female reproductive tract as possible,” says Calvert.
So, what happens to these reproductive parts with age?
In about 50 percent of men, a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia occurs where your prostate enlarges and impedes the flow of urine from the bladder. While an enlarged prostate doesn’t stop you from ejaculating, treatments for enlarged prostates—like medications (including finasteride), can lead to ejaculatory troubles.
Your seminal vesicles may also become less elastic with age. Ejaculate volume may decline slightly because of this, but Calvert notes this doesn’t happen with every guy.
Age-weakened bulbocavernosus muscles can also mean less ejaculate force.
What About Erections?
Erectile dysfunction is common with age and a lot of guys think they can’t climax and ejaculate without an erection, says Calvert.
Still, if the thought of having an orgasm and ejaculating without an erection bothers you—or your partner—you have options.
A urologist can treat the physical cause of your erection issues with medications called PDE5 inhibitors. If the problem is more in your big head than your little head (your doctor can help you figure it out), then make an appointment with a sex therapist or other mental health professional. Talking to a mental health professional can help build your confidence and help you find ways to speak to your partner about performance anxiety, says Calvert.