To swallow or not to swallow? That has always been the question. Yes, swallowing is an act that some of us avoid like the plague — but it turns out that we should probably get our gag reflexes in check. That's right, consuming semen really does have some serious health benefits that goes far beyond a protein shake.

What we're trying to say is, it might officially be time to just start doing it.

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: My Male Partner Won’t Agree to a Sperm Analysis — Now What?

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.

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

Originally published April 2015. Updated June 2017.

4. Oral sex can lower your blood pressure

A recent study suggests that swallowing semen on a regular basis can lower your blood pressure. Women who swallow their male mate's sperm during oral sex often have a much lower risk of getting preeclampsia — a complication during pregnancy that results in super-high blood pressure. So semen is helpful in making and birthing a baby.

5. It lowers the risk of prostate cancer (when expelled)

So this last one's not so much a health benefit of semen, but rather the act of semen is released. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that "high ejaculation frequency was related to decreased risk of total prostate cancer." This means that whether you do it alone or with a friend, if you're ejaculating regularly, you're lowering your chances of getting prostate cancer later in life. Suddenly the term "release your demons" takes on new meaning.

More: 8 Things to Know About the Smartphone Sperm-Tester

6. It could be the next all-natural fire extinguisher

You read that right. Research that's being conducted at the Polytechnic University of Turin suggests that the DNA in semen could be used to create flame-retardant materials. Right now, they're looking specifically at DNA from herring sperm cells and finding that it converts to a "ceramic-like material when exposed to extreme heat."

The science behind it is a little intense, but simply put, the components found in the DNA could be an environmentally friendly way to protect fabric from flame. While this sounds awesome, I wouldn't go attempting the human fire extinguisher just yet.

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