There's no basis to the folk belief that "running out of semen" could have fatal consequences, a local urologist said.
A 23-year-old man from Taoyuan, subscribing to the traditional saying that "a drop of semen is as valuable as 10 drops of blood," resisted ejaculation when making love to his girlfriend.
His doctor, a urologist at Chang Gung Hospital in Linkou (林口), said that the man's frequent sexual activity, combined with his resistance to ejaculation, probably contributed to his contracting hemospermia.
"He asked me, `doctor, am I going to die if I run out of sperm?'" said Huang Shih-tsong (
The idea that men must preserve their bodily fluids for their health is an old one in Chinese folk medicine. In the 17th century Chinese erotic classic, The Golden Lotus (
"Hsih-Men Ching only knew how to satisfy his lust, but did not consider that once the oil is dry, the lamp is extinguished; and once the marrow is exhausted, the man dies," the novel read.
"The idea that excessive sexual indulgence leads to bloody ejaculations is a common one in medical books of that era, not just in The Golden Lotus," said Hu Yan-nan (胡衍南), a scholar of Ming and Qing dynasty texts and associate professor at National Taiwan Normal University.
Contrary to traditional belief, Huang said that hemospermia is a harmless condition caused by a variety of factors.
"In most cases, it's nothing to worry about and mostly heals by itself," Huang said. "In older men, it could be associated with an increased likelihood of prostate cancer."
In the case of the Taoyuan man, his condition improved after he ceased to resist ejaculations.
"During sex, the penis and pelvic areas are engorged with blood. The blood vessels constrict during ejaculation, allowing blood to swiftly subside from the area," Huang said.
"By deliberately curtailing that process, this man caused the blood to pool in his pelvis for an extended amount of time, causing his prostates to become inflammed, eventually leading to hemospermia."
"It is healthy and natural to ejaculate as a part of sex," he added. "Men are not doing themselves a favor by holding it in."