7 Health Benefits & Risks Of Swallowing Semen

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woman with tongue out

In my clinical practice, I'm always looking for ways to help women reduce their aversions to certain sexual acts or bodily fluids — like swallowing semen, for example. Of course, it's always helpful to have science on your side when making a case.

Unfortunately, for many of the women I treat, the flames of passion are all too often extinguished. But based on my knowledge of evolutionary sexology, I've come up with a useful clinical intervention — and I see it working every day.

It's based on the theory that seminal plasma (the fluid that provides nutrients and protection for sperm, consisting of a complex range of organic and inorganic constituents) may have many health benefits. Yes, you read that correctly — swallowing semen is actually healthy for you.

What is semen?

Semen is the thick fluid that comes out of a male's penis when they ejaculate during intercourse or sexual activities. Semen is also referred to as ejaculate.

Many believe semen is the same thing as sperm, but they are actually two separate things. Semen and sperm are kind of like squares and rectangles — sperm is a part of semen, but semen isn't a part of sperm.  

In fact, sperm is only one component of semen, which also contains enzymes like fructose and proteolytic.

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What is in semen?

Semen is made up of multiple components, including:

1. Citric acid derived from the seminal vesicles

2. Free amino acids

3. Fructose derived from the seminal vesicles

4. Enzymes derived from the prostate

5. Phosphorylcholine

6. Prostaglandin derived from the seminal vesicles

7. Potassium

8. Zinc

9. Sodium

10. Fat

11. Cholesterol

12. Traces of vitamin B-12

Most of the fluid in semen is made up of secretions from male reproductive organs. For example, while engaging in sexual activities, sperm is mixed with seminal fluid which is produced by the seminal vesicles and the prostate gland.

How much semen is ejaculated at once? A 2013 study that looked at the physical and chemical properties of semen found that the average protein concentration of semen is 5,040 mg per 100 mL. Since one ejaculation usually produces 5 ml of semen, the average amount of ejaculation contains around 252 mg of protein.

How often should a man release sperm? Some guys might think they need to ejaculate a certain number of times per monthto stay healthy. In fact, a 2016 study suggests that the more a man ejaculates, the less likely he is to get prostate cancer, though the evidence isn't conclusive. A prior study found no correlation between ejaculation frequency and prostate cancer.

Is sperm safe to ingest? 

Mostly, yes, the bits that make up semen are safe to ingest. When swallowed, it's digested in the same way food is.

But can you be allergic to semen? Those who are allergic to sperm are affected by a condition called human seminal plasma hypersensitivity (HSP). It's a very rare allergy where individuals are hypersensitive to the proteins found in semen. It affects around 40,000 women in the US.

Whatever the case, whether or not you swallow semen is your decision and your decision only.

Is sperm good for women's health?

The alleged health benefits of seminal plasma are believed to be activated when a man deposits semen into a woman's vagina.

Newer research suggests that the same benefits may also be available if the seminal plasma is swallowed, and some theories even suggest that semen deposited anally will offer the same benefits. The very existence of "butt plugs" suggests that some men may want to keep the seminal plasma inside.

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7 Health Benefits Of Swallowing Semen

1. Semen is a natural antidepressant.

Studies have shown that semen elevates your mood and even reduces suicidal thoughts. According to a 2002 study, women who were exposed to semen had a consistently better overall mood and were less susceptible to depression.

The study says, "data [is] consistent with the possibility that semen may antagonize depressive symptoms and evidence which shows that the vagina absorbs a number of components of semen that can be detected in the bloodstream within a few hours of administration."

2. Semen reduces anxiety.

According to a 2009 study, semen boasts anti-anxiety hormones like oxytocin, serotonin, and progesterone. The driving force of anxiety is oxidative stress and semen actually contains several combative antioxidants.

Having these antioxidants makes semen a prime warrior against anxiety.

3. Semen improves the quality of your sleep.

Semen contains melatonin, a sleep-inducing agent. A 2015 study that looked at the relationship of seminal melatonin concluded, "Semen contains melatonin, the natural hormone your body releases to regulate sleep cycles. This explains why people feel tired after swallowing semen or being exposed to it during intercourse." 

What happens when you swallow sperm? Our body's natural reaction is to absorb the nutrients we ingest, so when swallowing semen, it's like we are taking a melatonin pill for the night. The same goes for our vaginal lining that also absorbs semen properties.

4. Semen boosts energy.

And it's even been shown to improve cardio health.

A 2016 study that looked at cardioprotection and lifespan extension by the natural polyamine spermidine in mice found that after being fed spermidine, the mice showed, "enhanced cardiac autophagy, mitophagy and mitochondrial respiration, and it also improved the mechanoelastical properties of cardiomyocytes in vivo, coinciding with increased titin phosphorylation and suppressed subclinical inflammation."

That's a lot, but it essentially resulted in a positive confirmation of semen improving cardio health because of the chemical compound spermidine.

5. Semen prevents preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is a condition that causes dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy. A 2000 study suggested that "swallowing sperm is correlated with a diminished occurrence of preeclampsia."

The study looked at an isolated peptide called HLA, which has the ability to transfer tolerance. Soluble HLAHLA antigens that are present in the seminal plasma can cause tolerance in the mother to paternal antigens that cause preeclampsia during pregnancy.

6. Semen can improve memory.

While this 2019 study was performed on fruit flies, the findings are clear: semen actually improves your memory.

In the study, researchers looked at a seminal peptide that affected the female memory and demonstrated that this "sex peptide enhances memory by acting on a single pair of serotonergic brain neurons"

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Their result was that semen had a strong effect on the female brain. However, this was just done on fruit flies, and more studies need to be done to further verify if it also works on other organisms. 

7. Semen prevents morning sickness.

Psychologist Gordon Gallup said that the best thing to cure morning sickness is his partner's ingesting his semen (the same semen that got her pregnant, that is). He goes on to explain that "the more often the woman is inseminated prior to conception and during the early stages of the pregnancy, the more tolerance her body develops to his genetic material." 

This results in the woman's development of a successful immunosuppressant, which inherently stops stomach problems, making her vomit on command.

RELATED: Why Pregnant Women Should Swallow More Sperm, According To Science

When I tell women with arousal disorders they can reap all of the above-mentioned health benefits, it often enables them to be more receptive to sex.

Suddenly, their willingness to "swallow" increases if they think it might help them sleep better or reduce their pain. Suddenly, they can tolerate intercourse if they believe it may help with depression. Plus, if you're willing to give it a try, there are ways to make semen taste better so you might even enjoy doing so.

Though much of the research in this area is preliminary and needs to be replicated, more empirical research will support these initial findings. Of course, nothing is perfect, and there are some health risks that come with swallowing semen.

Nothing horrific actually happens when you swallow semen — it's comprised mostly of water, after all, and is digested the same way your food and drinks are. However, there are some safety risks to be aware of.

Risks Of Swallowing Semen

1. You're at risk of contacting STIs.

If you're swallowing semen, you're likely not using a condom. And, like most other sex acts performed without a condom, contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is always a probability. 

According to Planned Parenthood, having semen in your mouth puts you at risk of bacterial infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.

2. You could have an allergic reaction.

If you've ever felt sick after swallowing semen, it could be because you have a semen allergy.

Known as seminal plasma hypersensitivity, semen allergies affect roughly 40,000 women and may cause symptoms such as pain, itching, redness, swelling, hives, and difficulty breathing. Some women have also reported feeling nauseous after swallowing semen.

Can you use semen topically?

Many have suggested that applying semen topically gives glowing skin, helps treat acne, and prevents aging. However, there's no research to suggest that any of this is true. 

Many YouTubers and celebrities have raved about the semen facials that supposedly give them naturally glowing, smooth, non-wrinkly skin. However, experts say this isn't true because there isn't a high enough dose of proteins.

Dermotologists also say that semen treating acne is just an urban myth. This remedy is usually found on acne forums, but there is no evidence to support semen having any acne-combating properties. 

As for supposed anti-aging properties of seme, a 2009 study looked at the longevity of spermidine and found that injecting spermidine directly into cells can slow down the aging process; however, little is known about the effects of applying it topically.

Again, dermatologists say there isn't a high enough dosage in semen to effectively do this to your skin and can give allergic relations or even STIs. Dermatologists still recommend serums containing a high concentration of vitamin C and retinoids for anti-aging effects.

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Kimberly Resnick Anderson, LCSW, is an AASECT-certified sex therapist with more than 20 years of experience evaluating and treating sexual concerns, as well as a clinical instructor of Psychiatry at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, and an associate professor of psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University.