Does semen contain any health benefits?

How many calories are in the average semen ejaculation?

Most internet sources say that semen contains between 5 and 25 calories per teaspoon, but there isn’t a lot of research to back this figure up.

Each ejaculation produces about one teaspoon, or 5 millimeters (mL), of semen on average. But this can range between 1.5 and 7.6 mL, depending on factors like your overall health and if you’ve recently ejaculated.

  1. Is there really as much protein as in an egg white?

2013 review of studies looked at the nutritional composition of semen. It found that the average protein concentration of semen is 5,040 milligrams (mg) per 100 ml.

Since one ejaculation usually produces 5 ml of semen, we can say that the average amount of ejaculation contains around 252 mg of protein.

However, the review noted that it was difficult to accurately measure the protein concentration of semen, so this number might be inaccurate.

Similarly, the protein concentration of an egg white depends on a range of factors — what size is the egg? what kind of bird laid it? — so it’s hard to come up with an exact figure.

So, comparing sperm and egg white is like comparing apples and, well, eggs.

  1. Is there really as much vitamin C as in an orange?

There’s a rumor that semen contains as much vitamin C as there is in an orange. Although semen does contain vitamin C, there isn’t any research to back this claim up.

  1. Is zinc really the most prevalent nutrient?

According to the 2013 review mentioned above, semen contains a lot of zinc.

In fact, one teaspoon could contain about 3 percent of your daily allowance — which is quite a lot for such a small amount of semen!

However, you’re better off getting zinc through food or a multivitamin.

  1. Are there any other nutrients in semen?

Semen also contains:

  • fructose
  • sodium
  • cholesterol
  • fat
  • traces of vitamin B-12

However, since such a small amount of semen is ejaculated at once, it won’t really have an effect on your nutritional intake for the day.

  1. Is it true that vaginal contact with ejaculate has an effect on depression?

You might have heard that, during vaginal sex, semen can enter the bloodstream and affect your mood.

A widely reported 2002 study looked at the relationship between ejaculate and depression.

It found that people who had vaginal sex without condoms were less likely to have depressive symptoms than those who had protected or no sex.

It also found that, among people who used condoms, depressive symptoms and suicide attempts were proportional to the consistency of condom use.

In other words, the less they used condoms, the less depressed they were.

However, this study had a few limitations. There were only 293 participants, and it relied on anonymous surveys for data. Self-reported results aren’t always the most reliable.

Although there might be truth to the idea that ejaculate can affect one’s mood, it’s also important to remember that condom use can prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy.

Make sure you weigh the pros and cons before ditching the condom.

  1. What about the purported effect on preeclampsia?

As strange as it may sound, coming into contact with semen while pregnant may reduce your chances of developing preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is a serious condition characterized by high blood pressure during pregnancy or after delivery. It can lead to liver and kidney failure, and is potentially fatal.

2014 study looked at the link between preeclampsia and exposure to paternal seminal fluid.

It found that, if the pregnant person came into contact with the paternal semen during pregnancy, they were less likely to have preeclampsia.

This included having intercourse without condoms or swallowing semen during oral sex.

  1. Are there any benefits to putting ejaculate on your skin?

You might have heard that semen can improve the condition of your skin. However, there isn’t any scientific evidence that backs this claim up.

If you want to apply semen to your skin, go ahead — but remember that it’s possible to have a semen allergy, so it could actually cause an allergic reaction.

  1. Does semen really have an anti-aging effect?

Sperm contains the antioxidant spermidine.

Although one 2014 study shows that spermidine could have anti-aging properties, more research is needed to truly understand how or if this may work.

  1. What’s the difference between semen and sperm?

Sperm and semen are often used interchangeably, but they’re not exactly the same thing!

In short, sperm refers to the cells while semen refers to the liquid. Sperm are the cells responsible for fertilizing eggs.

Semen is made up of sperm cells, as well as a number of bodily secretions.

These secretions include:

  • prostatic fluid, which neutralizes the acidity of the vagina
  • seminal fluid, which contains proteins, fatty acids, and fructose to nourish the sperm
  • bulbourethral fluid, which lubricates the penis

These fluids help the sperm reach the egg while staying healthy.

  1. Where are semen and sperm produced in the body?

Semen production takes place in the seminiferous tubules, which are tiny tubes in the testicles.

Seminal fluid is produced in the seminal vesicles, which are inside the prostate gland.

  1. How are semen and sperm made?

The seminiferous tubules contain germ cells that eventually turn into sperm cells.

The sperm swim into the epididymis, which is a tube behind the testes. The sperm continue to travel through the epididymis for about five weeks.

As they travel through the epididymis, they mature and develop further. Then, they move into the vas deferens.

When you’re aroused, the sperm mixes with the seminal fluid and other secretions to form semen.

When you ejaculate, semen is pushed out of the penis.

  1. How often are sperm produced?

It takes about two and a half months for a germ cell to become a mature sperm cell. However, you can produce about 1,500 sperm cells each second, and possibly millions a day!

  1. Is there anything you can do to produce more sperm?

There are a few things you can do to improve your sperm count.

Making healthy lifestyle changes that enhance your overall health can also help improve your sperm count and quality.

This includes:

If you’re concerned about your fertility, see a doctor or other healthcare provider. They can answer any questions you have and make specific recommendations.

  1. How big is the average ejaculation?

Usually, you’d ejaculate about one teaspoon of semen at a time.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the average range of semen per ejaculation is between 1.5 and 7.6 mL.

However, this amount can vary based on a few factors, including your overall health and whether you’ve recently ejaculated.

  1. How many sperm cells does semen contain?

According to WHO, you may produce between 39 million and 928 million sperm cells per ejaculation.

On average, there may be anywhere from 15 million to 259 million sperm cells per milliliter of ejaculate.

  1. What do sperm look like?

Sperm cells look like tadpoles with long tails and big heads.

However, it’s possible to have sperm cells that are shaped differently. This is often referred to as “abnormal sperm morphology.”

These sperm cells could have no tail, two tails per cell, or a large or deformed head, for example.

According to Mayo Clinic, it isn’t uncommon to have thousands of abnormally shaped sperm cells.

Furthermore, having an abnormal sperm morphology doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have difficulty conceiving.

  1. How do sperm swim?

The “tail” helps its motility. In other words, the tails help the sperm swim through the tubules, vas deferens, and urethra, and then to the egg.

  1. Do XY-carrying sperm really swim faster?

You might have heard that sperm carrying XY chromosomes swim faster, but scientific research has shown that this isn’t true.

  1. Is it true that your diet affects sperm speed?

According to one 2018 study, your diet can affect your sperm’s speed.

This study found that antioxidant supplements and omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, can help improve sperm motility.

Generally, eating a balanced diet is great for your fertility and overall health.

  1. Does your diet affect the taste of your ejaculate?

Indeed, your diet can affect the taste of your semen.

There isn’t a lot of science-backed research that proves which foods improve the taste of your semen, given the fact that it would be hard to measure.

The following are anecdotally associated with bad-tasting semen:

  • garlic
  • onions
  • red meat
  • dairy
  • alcohol

Fruits, cinnamon, and nutmeg may improve the taste of your semen.

  1. Does your diet affect the smell of your ejaculate?

The smell of ejaculate varies. It often smells a little like chlorine, bleach, or ammonia. It might even smell metallic.

Eating asparagus, garlic, or meat may make your ejaculate smell a little pungent, as can drinking alcohol.

If your semen smells foul, like rotten eggs or fish, it could be a sign of an infection like gonorrhea or trichomoniasis.

It could also be caused by prostatitis, which is the inflammation of the prostate gland.

If you’re experiencing an unusual smell, make an appointment with a doctor. They can help determine the cause and advise you on any next steps.

  1. How long do sperm live outside the body?

Sperm can live in the uterus for up to five days, which is why it’s possible to become pregnant if you have sex on your period.

Sperm can live for up to 72 hours in an incubator, and, if frozen, may last for years.

But that doesn’t mean you can become pregnant from random pools of sperm.

For sperm to stay alive and fertilize an egg, it needs to live in specific conditions.

It needs to be moist so that it can “swim” or move, so if the semen is dry, it’s likely that the sperm is dead.

The presence of chemicals and other environmental factors can also affect viability.

Given that, it’s impossible to become pregnant from sperm that has been ejaculated into a body of water or onto a surface like a chair.

  1. What causes sperm to die off?

Sperm might die off if it isn’t ejaculated.

In this case, it will be reabsorbed back into the body, and the body can produce more sperm cells.

Sperm also dies soon after leaving the body, especially if exposed to air.

You might produce no sperm at all if you:

  • have had damage to your testicles
  • have low hormone reserves
  • are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation
  • have certain medical conditions
  1. What’s the deal with temperature?

Sperm is sensitive to temperature. Sperm can die or lose motility if it’s too hot or too cold.

The scrotum, being outside the body, is at an ideal temperature for the production of sperm.

  1. Can you be allergic to your own semen?

Yes, you can be allergic to your own semen. This condition is called post orgasmic illness syndrome (POIS).

People with POIS often experience flu-like or allergic-like reactions after ejaculating.

POIS was first defined in 2002, but there’s still a lot that we don’t know about the condition.

While it’s rare, it can be debilitating. Consult a doctor if you think you may be allergic to your own semen.

  1. What happens to sperm that isn’t ejaculated?

Sperm that isn’t ejaculated eventually breaks down. The nutrients are “recycled” back into the body. But don’t worry — more sperm cells can be made to make up for this shortage.

  1. How does getting a vasectomy affect ejaculation?

If you have a vasectomy, you’ll still be able to ejaculate and produce semen.

However, a vasectomy involves cutting or tying the vas deferens. This prevents sperm from mixing with seminal fluids.

In other words, your ejaculate will no longer have sperm in it.

  1. What’s the bottom line on the overall health benefits of semen?

Although semen does contain nutrients, many of its purported effects on health and beauty are unfounded.

Generally speaking, the available research doesn’t support claims that semen exposure — via oral ingestion, topical application, or through vaginal intercourse — will have a noticeable effect on your overall well-being.

References:
Abnormal sperm morphology: What does it mean? (2018).
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Gallup G, et al. (2002). Does semen have antidepressant properties? DOI:
1023/A:1015257004839
Grant VJ. (2006). Entrenched misinformation about X and Y sperm. DOI:
1136/bmj.332.7546.916-b
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Infertility.
org/diseases-conditions/infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20354317
Minios N. (2014). Molecular basis of the 'anti-aging' effect of spermidine and other natural polyamines - A mini-review. DOI: 10.1159/000356748
Nassan FL, et al. (2018). Diet and men's fertility: does diet affect sperm quality? DOI: .
1016/j.fertnstert.2018.05.025
Nguyen HMT, et al. (2018). Post-orgasmic illness syndrome: A review. DOI:
1016/j.sxmr.2017.08.006
Owen D, et al. (2013). A review of the physical and chemical properties of human semen and the formulation of a semen simulant. DOI:
2164/jandrol.04104
Saftlas AF, et al. Cumulative exposure to paternal seminal fluid prior to conception and subsequent risk of preeclampsia. DOI:
1016/j.jri.2013.07.006
(n.d.).
hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/vasectomy
Medically reviewed by Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW, CST
Written by Sian Ferguson

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