We know by now that sex has some serious health benefits — being sexually active past the age of 50 can help you live longer, for instance — but we always seem to overlook sperm. Sure, we've all heard the "it has protein" quips, but for all of their function, those little swimmers aren't normally given enough credit. Beyond the sperm-meets-egg scenario, the recent developments in sperm research are way different than any of us expected.
What we're trying to say is, it might officially be time to stop worrying about whether to spit or swallow.
I know sex in general can put a smile back on my face, but I never thought it had anything to do with semen. According to a study conducted on 293 female college students at the State University of New York in Albany, exposure to semen can lower symptoms of depression. The study compared female students who were having sex with condoms versus those who were having sex without, and found that the latter group overall showed fewer signs of depression.
According to the study's author, "These data are 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." Basically, women absorb semen quickly, and thus its benefits can be easily detected in the bloodstream.
But don't go having unprotected sex because of this. I will state the obvious: There are still such things as STDs and you can still get pregnant despite this health benefit.
Yes, sure, you're usually worn out after sex, but that may not be why you sleep so well that night. Semen actually contains melatonin which is a chemical that induces sleep and relaxation. Whether you ingest it, or receive it through intercourse, it will enter your bloodstream and help you doze off better than most over-the-counter sleep aids.
One teaspoon of semen contains over 200 proteins and several helpful vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, calcium, chlorine, citric acid, fructose, lactic acid, magnesium, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, vitamin B12 and zinc. While amounts of each vitamin vary with age and relative health of the obliging male, there is usually a significant amount of zinc present (about 3 percent of US RDA), which is an antioxidant that helps slow down the aging process. So besides exercise, sex (sans condom) gives you a healthy dose of something good.
Originally published April 2015. Updated December 2017.
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