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What Are the Common Causes of Semen Leakage?

By Felicia Dye
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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

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.

Sexual Arousal

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.

Prescription Drugs

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.

Prostate Issues

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.

Leakage During Urination

Some men are prone to having semen leakage while they urinate. In cases where this happens soon after ejaculating, it is no reason to be concerned as it is a typical occurrence in men.

However, the presence of semen in urine may be a sign of retrograde ejaculation. Retrograde ejaculation is when semen enters the bladder instead of exiting the penis during ejaculation. The severity of this condition ranges as it can be completely harmless or a sign of fertility issues. 

Semen leakage during urination can be startling. The best initial action is to remain calm and keep notes of when it occurs for a physician to review.

How To Prevent Semen Leakage

There are ways to prevent semen leakage from occurring. They are majority at-home practices. Someone may choose not to take preventative measures. In this case, it is up to what makes them content in their own body.

Among the things that people can try include:

  • Maintain Healthy Weight
  • Masturbation Before Bed
  • Regular Doctor Check-Ups
  • Healthy Diet
  • Track Medication Side Effects

How To Treat Semen Leakage

While semen leakage is typically harmless, a remedy is often desirable. Depending on the cause of the leakage, there are routes available to fix the issue. Here is a list of the most popular treatments:

Nocturnal Emissions

There is no professional treatment for semen leakage that happens when sleeping because it is a common and natural occurrence. However, there are steps that one can take at home to reduce the chances of it happening. 

A few examples include:

  • Masturbation Before Sleeping
  • Meditating / Relaxing Before Bedtime
  • Discussing the Issue with a Mental Health Professional

Sexual Arousal

Just like semen leakage during sleep, semen leakage during sexual arousal is not an alarming symptom of a serious issue and therefore rarely requires professional treatment.

However, individuals may seek treatment from their physician if it impacts their sex life. Doctors may recommend medication to reduce the amount of semen leakage.

Prescription Drugs

Someone experiencing semen leakage as a side effect of a prescription drug should address the concern with their primary care doctor or the physician who prescribed the medication. There may be alternative medications that work better for their body chemistry.

There are pros and cons to most prescription medications. It is necessary to evaluate whether the good outweighs the bad.

Parasympathetic Nerve Problems

Nerve injuries can vary in severity. Because of this variance, it is difficult to come to a remedy without knowing the extent of the issue. Symptoms related to nerve injuries need to be alerted to a physician.

Common treatments include lifestyle changes, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medications. These can often improve issues drastically if not remedy it completely.

Prostate Issues

Semen leakage caused by prostate issues is typically resolved by first addressing the prostate concern that is causing the symptom of semen leakage. This strategy applies to cases of prostatitis and prostate cancer.

Leakage During Urination

Because of the potential severity of having semen leakage during urination, it needs to be alerted to a physician. However, there are tips that someone can try under medical supervision that reduce the chance. These include:

  • Bladder Training Techniques
  • Pelvic Floor Exercises
  • Over-The-Counter Medications
  • Prescription Medications

Semen Leakage Misconceptions

In popular cultures, people believe semen has mythical energy properties and that losing it can be dangerous to the individual. While these beliefs are culturally significant and should be respected, it can be anxiety-inducing to hear this from an outsider's perspective. It is vital to know that these are not scientifically-backed beliefs and do not extend into the realm of reality for most people.


Take note whenever changes occur in your body, including instances of semen leakage increase. Being familiar with your body is the best way to catch problems early and prevent further damage.

Semen leakage is not an immediate reason to worry. However, it should be mentioned to a doctor if it comes as a surprise. Young men typically grow out of having semen leakage problems, while older men are less susceptible.

Some being embarrassed and uncomfortable in their body needs to be taken seriously. Even if there are no hazardous health concerns, semen leakage can damage self-confidence, indirectly impacting one's physical health.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon998108 — On Apr 10, 2017

I'm going on 2 weeks leaking on arousal. Please help.

By anon991280 — On Jun 09, 2015

I'm 19 years old. I started it from the age of 12 i guess. I'm not physically fit as of my age. What should I do for this?

By anon990755 — On May 08, 2015

I get leakage when I am passing excretion. What should I do?

By kroxx1 — On Jan 15, 2015

I am 21 years old and I have a problem of releasing of semen at night when I am sleeping, usually while having sexual thoughts or talking with or about someone I find to be sexually attractive. What can I do to cure it? Does it affect the growth of my body as a male?

By anon985417 — On Jan 15, 2015

I am 50 and I drop a load on occasion during a bowel movement -- not lubricant, but a normal load with no sensation. It's also not the same as prostate stimulation ( I have tried that -- awesome!) I asked my doctor and she thought it might be normal.

I am concerned because 20-plus years ago I asked my doctor about a lump on my neck and problems breathing through one nostril and occasional blood in my stool. He said all was good. He was a jerk!

I have had digital exam, colonoscopy ( removed precancerous polyps),

I had a neck dissection to remove a cancerous thyroid and am on the waiting list for deviated septum surgery. What to do?

By anon982985 — On Dec 25, 2014

My boyfriend leaks constantly, all day, every day. Why?

By kiruthikaias — On Nov 12, 2014

My boyfriend leaks when we chat naughtily on the phone. Will this create any problem for our sex in the future? He is 20 years old.

By anon976496 — On Nov 03, 2014

I am a 55 year old man. I had never had any erection problems in the past. About six months ago I started having weak erections. When my girlfriend and I had sex, I noticed that I was leaking semen before ejaculation. So when I did have an orgasm there wasn't much semen left for ejaculation.

I can get an erection, but it seems to take a lot of work, and I am still leaking semen during intercourse. How can I strengthen that nerve ?

By anon967617 — On Aug 28, 2014

I don't know about anyone else, but during arousal, when the clear stuff comes out, it definitely kills my erection and I'm not able to perform normally. My leaking started about two months ago. Never had this issue before. It's totally freaking me out and hurting my sex life.

By anon960991 — On Jul 13, 2014

Right now I am dealing with seamen leakage during my sleep periods. Usually twice or three times a week. My doctor said it is because of my degenerated S1-L5 disc, and nerve issues. The chronic pain is bad enough, but now this?

Mine is at the point where I have to clean up and change every time. But at least I know what it is now. -- Walter C.

By khuram — On May 21, 2014

I am 32. I have been suffering from nocturnal emissions from last seventeen years. I have nocturnal emission three or four times in a night every day. Every single night, I have these emissions without dreams. As soon as the erection comes in my sleep, semen comes out like orgasm.

I have been taking medicines for the last fifteen years to stop these emissions, but these emissions never stopped. I feel extremely sick and weak. I lost too much weight and have really big, dark circles around my eyes as if no blood remains in my body.

These emissions started from me masturbating. When I was fifteen, I masturbated like continuously for two months, and then I stopped. Then these emissions started to happen daily.

I have taken so many homeopathic and Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines, but these emissions never stopped. The only single time when these emissions stopped when I took the antibiotic ofloxacin, which is used to treat prostate infections. These emissions stopped only for two weeks, and then they started again.

I never ever feel any pain or anything in my prostate area. My urine flow is good, and I never feel any kind of discomfort or anything in my body, but as soon as the erection comes in my sleep, semen comes out each time with every single erection. If I have five erections in my sleep, I have five emissions in a single night. Please help me.

By anon927639 — On Jan 25, 2014

Semen leakage of a moderate amount is normal in men, as this article mentions. When the volume is excessive, a doctor may need to be consulted to determine the cause and if any steps need to be taken. (This is not counting, of course, wet dreams in teen-agers and young adult men, which are a natural part of the body’s development.) Keeping the penis in good overall health is important: men should utilize a top quality penis nutrient cream (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) daily. A cream with a wide range of vitamins, such as B5, D and E, is recommended.

By anon927569 — On Jan 24, 2014

I got up twice in the same night due to leaks. After I cleaned up after the second one and had changed, suddenly I had a third leak. I had a leak the night before, too. Most of the time when I wake up, my private part feels slimy. I'm only a 15 year old boy. Is this normal or should I consult a doctor?

By anon359582 — On Dec 18, 2013

I am 15 years old and I have a problem of releasing of semen at night when I am sleeping. What can I do to cure it? Does it affect the growth of my body as a teenager?

By anon356865 — On Nov 29, 2013

I have a discharge that comes when passing stool. I took it to the lab and they found sperm and a parasite. After medication it still persists. What should I do?

By anon348930 — On Sep 21, 2013

My husband leaks only when he's sleeping. Why?

By anon344080 — On Aug 05, 2013

I leak seminal fluid as well when I'm talking to my wife on the phone. Not complaining, just have to change underwear more often.

By anon341898 — On Jul 16, 2013

I had a problem of semen leakage while I was talking on the phone to my girl friend, but the released semen is not so sticky. Is this normal or should I consult any urologist? Please give me your valuable suggestion.

By anon326480 — On Mar 22, 2013

I am suffering from nocturnal emissions. In the past, I had a hernia and had surgery at a young age. The nocturnal emission occurred after 7-10 days. Is this a disease or just a teenage or maturity symbol?

By Zixtox — On Mar 12, 2013

Can many years of masturbation cause one to have watery sperm?

By anon310854 — On Dec 27, 2012

How do I strengthen the parasympathetic nerve?

By fBoyle — On Aug 10, 2012
@ddljohn-- A small amount of semen leakage during bowel movements can also be normal. There might be something going on with the prostate if it happens with every bowel movement. But once in a while, especially when you have a difficult bowel movement, it's normal for the pressure to release some semen.

My son came to me with this problem recently and since I've had it happen to be before, I told him it's fine. But I also told him to keep track of it and if it happens more often, we'll go to the doctor.

By fBoyle — On Aug 10, 2012

@ddljohn-- Oh yea, that's normal. It's called "pre-cum" and just like you said, it's a natural lubricant. I think some people have more of it and that's normal too.

I had an actual semen leakage problem several years ago when I got married. I had too much intercourse during my honeymoon and when I came back home, I started leaking semen. It didn't happen constantly, but during physical activity. Squatting was the worst thing ever. I would completely wet my pants, I felt so ashamed.

I was told by my doctor to rest and stay away from intercourse for a while so that my parasympathetic nerve could heal itself. I did and the leakage did stop after a few weeks thankfully. I don't want to go through that ever again.

By ddljohn — On Aug 09, 2012

I thought I was experiencing semen leakage a couple of months ago. I noticed that when I got aroused, I would leak a clear liquid which I assumed to be semen.

I went to see a urologist and after describing to him what this liquid looked like, he told me that it's nothing to worry about. It turns out, it's not semen but a lubricant that our body produces when we're aroused. It's absolutely normal. I was worried for no reason thinking that it's semen.

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