Peak Load/Time: What’s the optimal time to abstain to maximize ejaculation volume?

[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ight up there with a big penis, beards, guns, chainsaws, a deep voice, muscle cars, Chuck Norris, and a raw piece of steak, being able to shoot out a lot of semen when ejaculating has a rightful place in the pantheon of manliness. Being able to shoot out a lot of semen does make a guy feel manly–which does make some sense. Remember that primitive man lived in a society with intense sperm competition. A male who could shoot a lot of high quality sperm into a female partner’s vagina would dramatically increase his chances of getting her pregnant. It would also give him more swimmers to outmaneuver any competing sperm and make it to the promised land of the female’s egg.

The semen volume-manliness link is exacerbated by images shown in pornography. Most XXX heterosexual pornographic videos end with the male or males ejaculating all over the female actor, with the face typically the preferred target area (known to many as a “facial”). It’s often celebrated in porn if a male can ejaculate all over one of the other actors.

Something else that I can definitely speak to from experience, is that orgasms seem to last longer and feel better the more time that passes between ejaculations. There’s more time for pressure to build up and for semen to be made. An orgasm tomorrow is worth more than an orgasm today so to speak.

Semen volume’s usefulness ranges from the serious business of fertility and procreation to men simply enjoying the fireworks when they ejaculate more and experience better orgasms.

It might surprise you to know that the easiest and best way for a man to increase his semen volume is by exercising one of the seven heavenly virtues—patience. Right after boys hit puberty and begin testing out their new sexual equipment, they learn the dramatic effect that abstinence time has on how much semen comes out when they ejaculate. The only problem is that because teenage boys are so ravenously horny, they rarely make it longer than a few hours without masturbating.

So is there a peak amount of time to wait before ejaculating that maximizes a man’s semen volume? A 2005 study published in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility by a group led by Dr. Eliahu Levitas analyzed looked at 10,000 semen samples and analyzed the effect that abstinence days had on a man’s semen volume and quality. I created the histogram below from data published in the study. Note: I’m only looking at the samples deemed to be normozoospermic; meaning men with normal, healthy sperm characteristics.


The first thing to notice in the above graph is that average semen volume increased with each additional day that men in the study abstained–so it clearly pays to wait if you want a bigger payoff. The increase between day 0 and days 8-14 was deemed to be statistically significant (P<0.001). However, you can see after 4 days that the benefits of abstaining begin to diminish. To bastardize borrow a famous economic theory, there are diminishing marginal semen returns after 4 days of abstinence for men.

The difference between waiting 1 day versus 4 days was an average increase in semen volume of 52% or 1.2 mL. Even waiting 4 days versus 3 days resulted in an average increase in semen volume of 13%! Not bad! Another interesting finding in the results was that the average semen volume actually went down slightly if a man waited 1 day versus 0 days–so in terms of semen quantity, it seems 24 hours isn’t enough time to meaningfully build up reserves. It’s after 1 day when a man’s semen producing factory seems to go into overdrive, with days 2 through 4 seeing dramatic increases in volume.

Keep in mind we’re only talking about semen volume. Other aspects important to fertility e.g. how many swimmers are in the semen and how healthy they are actually peak after a different abstinence time. Stay tuned for discussion on that in a future post.



Levitas, Eliahu et al. (2005). Relationship between the duration of sexual abstinence and semen quality: analysis of 9,489 semen samples. Fertility and Sterility, Volume 83 , Issue 6 , 1680 – 1686.

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