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6 unexpected health benefits of sperm — yes, you read that right

Ally Hirschlag is a producer/actor/writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY and buys way too many toys for her cats. She contributes to several publications, including Bustle, and The Nerve, and enjoys writing about all things woman. In her spar...

Let's finally settle that awkward debate: Swallowing semen is good for you

Sperm may not be the first thing you want to talk about on a girls' night out or at family dinner, but there's science surrounding the baby batter that most of us have encountered a time or two before. We already know that sex is great for your physical and mental health. Sex past the age of 50 can even help you live longer. 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 (and way more bizarre) 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:

1. Semen is a natural anti-depressant

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.

More: Bigger breasts linked to depression and eating disorders

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.

2. It helps you sleep better

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.

More: 6 Extremely common sex problems it's OK to finally talk about

3. A multivitamin in each ejaculation

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.

Next Up: Oral sex can lower your blood pressure

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