Alexis on the Sexes: Don't shoot

ALEXIS MCKINNIS | Updated 8/17/2012

When you don't come, where does it go?

Q: I find it hard to come some nights, but still like the buzz I get from near-coming. My question is this: Where does the come go if I don't shoot? Am I storing it up for a better launch later? Is it absorbed back in my body? I am "fixed," by the way. Thanks, love your attitude, Alexis.

A: No, thank you! Not just for reading the column, but also for sending in an awesome question that I'm sure a lot of dudes wonder about, whether they've been sterilized or not.

The fact that you've had a vasectomy actually doesn't matter in this case, because the procedure doesn't interfere much with semen production. During a vasectomy, the vasa deferentia -- plural for vas deferens, now you know -- are severed and sealed. The only purpose of these two ducts is to carry sperm being stored in the epididymis to the base of the urethra. That's where they start picking up their friends the prostaglandins, zinc, mucus and a few dozen other helpers that are dead set on seeing at least one little swimmer reach its ultimate destination: a big, ripe ovum. After a vasectomy, the only ingredient left out is the sperm, which constitutes less than 5 percent of semen. The remaining steps in the process of ejaculation still occur, just without the guys who fertilize. This is why, as I'm sure you've noticed, ejaculate after a vasectomy looks no different to the naked eye than ejaculate before.

Ejaculation, much like everything else the human body has evolved to accomplish, is intricate and mildly mind-blowing. The most mind-blowing part -- to me, at least -- is that it all happens so fast. Contrary to what you might believe, semen is not stored in the testes until it's time for a fella to shoot his load. As I explained above, semen has several different components which are all added in turn along the way, until it's time to expel the final product from the body. Think of a dude in a Ford Expedition picking up his friends on the way to Lake Calhoun -- a couple of bros in Northeast, one on campus, one downtown, another few south of Franklin -- until they get to the beach and pour out into the water. That's ejaculation, except ejaculation happens in an instant and doesn't stop at Holiday to get gas. Much like there's no group trip to the lake if there's no one in the van, there's no semen if those components aren't added in succession. Semen isn't produced until it's time to ejaculate.

Now, let's back up a bit to the part where sperm are stored the epididymis, where they spend about a month maturing after being formed in the testes. Sperm that don't get expelled from the epididymis into the vasa deferentia for whatever reason (vasectomy, withholding ejaculation, etc.) simply start to degenerate in their little holding tank and eventually get reabsorbed, essentially as a nutritive substance. The same thing is true in the seminal vesicles, the prostate and the bulbourethral glands, where all the other components of semen are produced. The body is a remarkable recycling plant, constantly creating new cells because cells are constantly dying. When any substance we produce internally has done its job, it takes a bow and fades gracefully back into the red velvet curtain. The body simply breaks down dead or stagnant cells and uses the parts to make new ones.

Given the short lifespan of many of the body's cells, the turnover is generally pretty quick. This is why withholding ejaculation for several days doesn't necessarily affect the amount of semen expelled. Sure, if you shoot a few loads a day, you'll notice a decrease in volume, but the difference in coming once every three days and once every seven days is negligible, if not nonexistent.

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