Electroejaculation is a procedure used to obtain semen samples from sexually mature male mammals. The procedure is used for breeding programs and research purposes in various species, as well as in the treatment of an ejaculatory dysfunction in human males.
Electroejaculation is usually carried out under a general anesthetic. An electric probe is inserted into the rectum adjacent to the prostate gland. The probe delivers an AC voltage, usually 12-24 volts sine wave at a frequency of 60 Hz, with a current limited to usually 500 mA, although some devices can generate currents of up to 1 A. The probe is activated for 1-2 seconds, referred to as a stimulus cycle. Ejaculation usually occurs after 2-3 stimulus cycles. Care must be taken when using currents greater than 500 mA, as tissue burns may result due to heating of the probe. The stimulus voltage stimulates nearby nerves, resulting in contraction of the pelvic muscles and ejaculation. This procedure is used frequently with large mammals, particularly bulls and some domestic animals, as well as humans who have certain types of anejaculation.
In the practice of veterinary medicine and animal science, it is common to collect semen from domestic ruminants using electro-ejaculation without sedation or anesthesia. Only in goats is mild sedation sometimes used. Because of the significant skeletal muscle contractions it causes, electroejaculation is not used in stallions — except in rare cases, under general anesthesia.
Application to endangered species conservation
The procedure has been adopted and modified as an assisted reproduction technique for managing endangered species, to ensure the production of offspring from incompatible pairs of animals where artificial insemination is feasible.