What Is Semen — And Are There Benefits To Swallowing?

6 minute read

About half the population produces semen, yet most of us don’t actually know what semen really is and what it’s made of. You might be wondering if your semen looks, tastes and feels “normal.” And if you are the one receiving the semen, you may be wondering if there are any benefits to ingesting this bodily fluid. Get all your semen questions answered right here.

What is semen made of?

Semen is made of many different compounds, though it is primarily water. While people often think semen and sperm are interchangeable, they are not the same thing. Sperm is a reproductive cell that only makes up 1 percent of semen. Semen is the fluid that holds sperm, and it is made up of over 200 vitamins, fatty acids, minerals, and proteins. These include, but are not limited to, calcium, chlorine, citric acid, lactic acid, nitrogen, potassium, sodium, vitamin B12, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus.

What does semen smell like?

Because semen is primarily made up of water, it typically has a mild smell. Healthy semen can smell like bleach or ammonia, which have similar pH levels as semen. Semen can also smell kind of sugary because of its fructose components. If semen smells particularly fishy or bitter, it may be a sign that an infection or STI is present.

What does semen look like?

Healthy semen is a whitish-gray color and looks cloudy with a viscous, jelly-like consistency. If your semen looks red, it may have blood in it. If your semen is yellow, it could have more white blood cells present. Both of these signs may be symptoms of an infection or STI. If your semen looks or feels abnormal, see a healthcare provider.

What does cum taste like?

Cum can taste different to different people. It is generally described as being slightly bitter or salty, sweet, or metallic-tasting. The varying flavors are due to the components of semen, which include sugar, sodium, zinc, citrate, calcium, magnesium, urea, potassium, and lactic acid. 

Cum is mostly made of water, so it tends to taste relatively mild overall. That said, many have anecdotes of being able to alter the taste of their cum by eating foods such as pineapple, celery, and oranges. Some people love the taste of semen, some are meh about it, others hate it. It’s entirely subjective.

Why is my semen yellow?

Healthy semen may have a tinge of yellow, but if your semen is very noticeably yellow, it may be a sign that something is wrong. Healthy semen is closer to white or grey and is viscous. If your semen is yellow, it may have more white blood cells than normal, and can be a symptom of an infection or STI. It’s important to see your healthcare provider if you notice abnormalities.

Where is semen stored?

Semen is made of up several ingredients including sperm and fluids from the prostate and the seminal vesicles. Sperm go from the testicles to the epididymis and then flow upstream through the vas deferens tube to the urethra. The sperm is then mixed with prostatic and seminal fluid to make semen. Semen then shoots from the urethra when a person ejaculates.

How to increase semen volume?

While there are some supplements (such as lecithin) advertised to help increase semen volume, there is little to no conclusive scientific evidence they actually work. The amount of semen you produce is based on a few factors, such as your sperm count and testosterone levels. That said, there are a few ways to increase semen volume, though don’t expect guaranteed, immediate, or very big results.  Here’s how to increase semen volume: 

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Maintain a healthy weight and diet, and exercise regularly. 
  • Take the right supplements and vitamins. Dietary supplements, such as D-aspartic acid (D-AA), fenugreek seed extract, zinc, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D are said to help boost sperm health or libido, though scientific evidence is inconclusive. 
  • De-stress. Keeping your anxiety and stress levels down so your cortisol levels stay normal, which can affect your libido and fertility. 
  • Try medicinal herbs. Certain medicinal herbs, such as Tribulus Terrestris and Ashwagandha are said to help fertility. 
  • Try Maca root. This is said to improve your libido and fertility.
How to make semen taste better?

You may have heard that eating certain foods like pineapple or cranberry juice can make semen taste better. While there are some studies showing your diet can affect the taste, most of this evidence is anecdotal.

That said, to make semen taste better, you can try sticking to fruits and foods that are high in sugar as they increase the fructose naturally present in semen. This can help it taste sweeter. You can also try eating celery as it’s high vitamin C concentrate combats the naturally salty taste of cum. Herbs and spices such as cinnamon, peppermint, and wheatgrass can also help. Drink lots of water, and avoid pungent foods and drinks like coffee and alcohol.

Is cum good for you?

Cum can be good for you so long as the semen is not carrying any STIs or diseases. There are even some potential benefits to coming into contact with cum. For example, semen contains natural mood-enhancer ingredients, protein, may help prevent some pregnancy complications, and can even potentially help hair health. That said, all these benefits should be taken with a big grain of salt as the scientific evidence is inconclusive.

Benefits of swallowing semen

You might have heard that there are benefits to swallowing semen. While some of those benefits are true, others don’t have much evidence backing them up. 

  • Semen is an antidepressant and stress reliever. Semen includes natural mood-enhancer ingredients, such as endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin, and progesterone hormones. More research is needed to determine whether or not swallowing semen can actually make you happier and less stressed, however. 
  • Semen contains protein. While true, the amount is so minimal, you’d have to swallow gallons to actually benefit. 
  • Semen can help prevent  preeclampsia. This is a rare pregnancy complication, but one study found swallowing semen made pregnant women less likely to develop preeclampasia. 
  • Semen can help hair health. Take this one with a grain of salt as its based on a study using semen from bulls. That said, semen does contain proteins known to make hair healthier. 
  • Semen can induce ovulation. Whether or not you see this as a benefit is subjective. But semen acts as hormones that signals a female brain to produce other hormones to induce ovulation.
How much protein is in semen?

You may have heard that semen is good for you because it contains protein. But just how much protein is in semen? According to a 2013 review of studies, the”average protein concentration of semen is 5,040 milligrams (mg) per 100 milliliter,” and the “average amount of ejaculation contains around 252 mg of protein.” We can’t trust this number completely, however, as the study noted it’s very hard to calculate protein concentration in semen.

Does sperm help with menstrual cramps?

While there is no strong evidence that sperm helps with menstrual cramps, orgasming (which may or may not involve a release of sperm in your body if your partner also has an orgasm), has been shown to help with menstrual cramps. That’s because your body produces oxytocin and endorphins — chemicals that act as natural painkillers — when you orgasm. An orgasm also causes your uterine muscles to contract, which can help relieve period cramps.

Can you be allergic to sperm?

Though rare, it is possible to be allergic to sperm. Sperm allergy is called seminal plasma hypersensitivity and symptoms include swelling, redness, itching or hives, and a burning sensation in areas semen has come into contact with your skin. Semen allergy happens when your body reacts negatively to certain proteins in sperm. It is even possible to be allergic to your own semen. This is called post-orgasmic illness syndrome.

When it comes to semen, there’s a lot to learn. While everyone’s body is different, knowing what semen should generally look, feel, and taste like can be helpful. It can also be helpful to learn about the potential benefits of semen, though these benefits are never a reason to exchange bodily fluids unless there is also enthusiastic consent.

Louise Bourchier, MPH

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Louise Bourchier is a sex educator and sex researcher with 8 years experience in the field. She teaches about sexual health, sexual pleasure, and communication in relationships through workshops, live-streams, and with written content. Using a sex-positive approach, a dash of humour, and bag full of fun props, Louise’s style of sex education for adults is not what you got in high school! Since 2011 she has taught over a hundred workshops to a wide range of audiences, from university students, to refugees, to medical professionals, to adult store clientele. She has a Masters of Public Health, and is currently a PhD candidate.

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