Look elsewhere for the milk of happiness
Is semen nature's Prozac?
Most readers will not need an academician to tell them that busting a nut makes you feel good. But a new university study suggests something less obvious: that the recipient of semen gets something, too-- a boost in spirits.
At least if she takes it up the vagina. Psychologist Gordon Gallup and colleagues at State University of New York at Stony Brook queried co-eds about their sexual practices, and correlated their vaginal exposure to
semen to their ranking on a supposedly standardized measure of feeling blue. If you score above 17 on the Beck Depression Inventory, you're deemed as "moderately depressed." The young women whose boyfriends never
used condoms scored a cheerful 8 on average, those who sometimes used them came in at 10.5, those who usually used them clocked a 15, and those who always used them scored 11.3. Women who weren't having heterosex
at all had an average score of 13.5. When they crunched the numbers, Gallup
et al. claimed that exposure to semen proved to be the key difference.
Gallup et al., whose research is published in the June, 2002
Archives of Sexual Behavior, claim to have found their way through a thicket of potentially confounding variables-- having statistically adjusted for the
effects on depression of, for example, not being in a relationship. One could imagine that partners who didn't use condoms might have closer, more trusting relationships, or were wanting children-- factors that could be correlated
"Semen does indeed contain a variety of hormone-like substances which could be absorbed by the female reproductive tract and could indeed give a temporary lift to mood," says Richard C. Pillard MD, professor
of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, tells
Semen is quite a biochemical cocktail-- forgive the pun. Besides sugar, a dollop of protein, and a few trendy micronutrients (such as zinc), the carrier for sperm is a brew of hormones-- testosterone, estrogen,
follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, among others-- that could be expected to affect mood-- ask any woman having her period, going through menopause, or a man with low testosterone. Moreover, chemical markers
from semen are known to make their presence known in a woman's bloodstream within hours of vaginal sex.
Could exposure to semen through oral or anal sex be paths to happiness? Oral contraceptives show that some hormones can survive the digestive tract, and intestinal tissue is famously permeable.
"We would need to see this finding replicated and if it is, we could perhaps identify naturally occurring mood elevators," Pillard adds. "Of course one would also like to see if there is a similar effect in men."
In the meantime, exposing semen to your bloodstream can cause problems, such as HIV infection, liable to depress you and yours. But perhaps ingesting one's own cum could be like having your cake and eating
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