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FACT CHECK: Can swallowing semen relieve stress, alleviate psychological issues?

FACT CHECK: Can swallowing semen relieve stress, alleviate psychological issues?
September 21
15:09 2022

A Twitter post claims that swallowing semen can help regulate sleep, relieve stress, boost mood and alleviate anxiety.

“Swallowing semen can help deal with depression; swallowing semen can boost mood; swallowing semen can help with stress; swallowing semen can help deal with anxiety; swallowing semen can help regulate the sleep cycle,” the tweet reads.

The post gathered over 8,700 likes and more than 4,300 retweets.

The post was shared on a couple of Facebook accounts including Nurse Practitioner.

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Semen, also known as seminal fluid comes out from the male reproductive tract during sexual activities. The jelly-like fluid which is whitish-grey in colour contains sperm cells capable of fertilizing the female’s eggs.

Semen is made up of multiple components including vitamin C, B12, ascorbic acid, calcium, citric acid, fructose, lactic acid, magnesium, zinc, potassium, sodium, fat, and other proteins.

WHAT DOES RESEARCH SAY?

Although there has not been much research into the health benefits of ingesting semen, many articles making similar claims can be found online.

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Many of the ascribed benefits of swallowing it have been tied to some studies on the components of sperm and the benefits of these components to the human body.

Checks by TheCable showed that the most common study used to back up claims like these is one from 2002 which involved 293 sexually active women and suggested a link between semen exposure and mood. The study found that women who had direct exposure to semen had fewer symptoms of depression.

However, the study which was focused on vaginal intake of the semen rather than oral, notes that results are “preliminary and correlational in nature and as such are only suggestive”.

Another commonly quoted study is a 2015 study which noted that semen contains melatonin which is the natural hormone the body releases to regulate sleep cycles. The study strictly focused on the effects of this melatonin on male fertility. The study did not in any way touch on the effects of this melatonin when semen is swallowed.

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WHAT DO EXPERTS SAY?

The Cable reached out to medical experts to confirm if there is any scientific evidence to back up these claims.

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Best Ordinioha, a professor of public health and community medicine, said it is untrue that swallowing semen can help deal with any of these issues as claimed.

“If there is any advantage, it’s probably from the sexual act and not due to the intake of the sperm itself. The semen actually does contain nutrients, but these nutrients are to help the sperm on its journey to fertilize the egg. The nutrients are not to the extent that they can be used for nourishment. We’re talking about just a few calories here,” he said.

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“The person that made the claim was probably trying to encourage people to engage more in oral sex especially as certain persons may feel uncomfortable with swallowing it. Some of these claims need to be taken with consideration of the motive of the person who made the claim.”

Ayo Ajeigbe, a clinical psychologist, said these claims are not true as there is no concrete research to back them up.

“Most of these claims just pick one or two things and relate them to each other. Just because sperm contains melatonin does not mean it has any effect when swallowed,” he said.

“It is not backed up by any research because if it is, it would have been a solution to most problems people are going through. They would have made a medication that contains it so people can use it.”

The psychologist added that most of the studies used to buttress these claims have limited participants, which is inadequate to come to such a conclusion. Also, secreted semen from the male reproductive organ is too small for the nutrients therein to have any discernible health effect when swallowed.

VERDICT

The claim that swallowing semen can help deal with depression, boost mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and regulate sleep is unproven. There is no sufficient scientific research to back up the claims.



This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.

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