It's a valid question many of us have asked ourselves while getting intimate with our S.O.: Is swallowing worth it? And then the follow-up question is virtually almost always: But what are the health benefits of semen?
Now, you've probably already heard that semen is packed with protein. But it turns out the benefits of consuming it go far beyond that.
If it doesn't totally gross you out and you're up for it, here are the six health benefits of semen.
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.
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.
A version of this article was originally published in April 2015.
4. Oral sex can lower your blood pressure
According to a 2003 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 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. According to a 2004 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, "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.
6. It could be the next all-natural fire extinguisher
You read that right. A 2013 study in Polymer suggests 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.