Swallowing a partner’s ejaculate may be an erotic activity to some; however, others may find this activity unappealing. Choosing to swallow, spit out, or refrain from touching semen are all personal preferences that should be respected. For those who decide not to swallow their partner’s ejaculate, spitting out the ejaculate or withdrawing the penis before ejaculation are both options. It is important to learn about the biology behind semen, safe sex practices, communication with your partner, and experimentation so that you may discover your own preferences about swallowing ejaculate.
What’s in It?
Semen is made up of many different components. The biggest component of semen is water. Although there are sperm cells in semen, they only make up one to five percent of the total volume. Semen also contains protein, amino acids, citric acid, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and many other nutrients, including sugars such as fructose and glucose.1 Approximately 30% of the volume of seminal fluid comes from the prostate, which produces an alkaline (basic) fluid to neutralize the low (acidic) pH of the vagina. Approximately 70% of the ejaculate comes from the seminal vesicles, which provides fructose (a sugar also found naturally in fruits) and other nutrients for the sperm cells.
Is It Safe to Ingest?
The components of semen are edible. If swallowed, ejaculate will travel down the esophagus and into the stomach, where it will be digested in the same way that food is.
In rare cases, a person may discover that they have an allergy to the proteins found in semen: a condition known as seminal plasma hypersensitivity.2 Though this is very uncommon, it is wise to be aware of this allergy.
It is important to note that semen can carry sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so we recommend that you and your partner both get tested for STIs before engaging in oral sex (fellatio). If you or your partner have not been tested, we recommend using a barrier method of birth control for oral sex and abstaining from making contact with ejaculate.
What Does It Taste Like?
The taste of semen may vary widely. Semen’s alkaline quality may give it a bitter taste. It also contains sugars such as fructose, so it may have a sweet taste.3 It is also common for men with diabetes to produce an ejaculate with high sugar content.3
Based on anecdotal evidence, one may expect to find the taste of semen anywhere from enjoyable to tasteless to disgusting.2 Each person’s body may produce a unique taste that can change depending on hydration and dietary choices.
Some evidence suggests that it is possible to alter or improve the taste of semen through specific diet practices. The primary way of controlling the taste of semen is through diet. In a small experiment done by BBC, a researcher asked three different couples to participate in a semen taste test. Each of the three males ate distinct meals that were different from their regular daily food intake for two days. On the third day, their partners were asked to sample the semen. Two out of three of the partners were able to detect a difference in taste.4
Recommendations may focus on certain foods, but the best way to optimize the taste is to experiment: Keep track of diet, and, if the male isn’t sampling his own semen, communicate with your partner about when it tastes better or worse. Some recommendations for sweetening the taste of semen include eating or drinking things with high sugar content such as fruits, pineapple in particular, or fruit juices. Other suggestions for improving semen palatability include reducing meat consumption or ingesting cinnamon, lemon, or green tea.4
The Volume and Consistency of Semen
The average volume of semen produced at ejaculation is two to five milliliters.5 Generally, the volume of ejaculate will increase with the time since the last ejaculation (up to some maximum) and with proper hydration.
If it was recently ejaculated, you may expect semen to be a body-temperature, coagulated fluid, with the viscosity of a heavier grade, room-temperature motor oil and with the density of milk.
Are There Any Health Benefits to Swallowing Sperm?
There are many myths that suggest that ingesting sperm has some health benefits. However, no scientific evidence is available to back this claim. Some urban legends claim that semen is as an effective teeth whitener (likely arising from the fact that semen contains relatively high levels of zinc), a good source of protein (at most 1/20th of ejaculate is protein by mass), or a healthy nutrition supplement. Semen does not whiten teeth, and unless consumed in copious amounts, it is unlikely that ingesting semen will have any effect on dietary health.2
The National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom takes note of a study that is often cited claiming that semen may act as an antidepressant when absorbed within the vagina or the mouth.3 The study also notes that exposure to semen is linked to better health in general for individuals.3 The NHS suggests that a hasty interpretation of these findings should be cautioned against: Engaging in sexual activity, in general, is linked to a decrease in depression and an improvement of overall health. Therefore, exposure to semen may just be correlated to these health benefits but not be a causal factor.3
Furthermore, these and many similar studies relied on statistical correlations between survey answers, using different methods of contraception as a proxy for semen exposure. Self-reported survey answers are often not as reliable as first-hand evidence.
Alternative causal factors beyond the properties of semen itself have been proposed, as many females who do not use condoms during intercourse may be in more satisfying, long-term relationships, may use alternative contraception, or may receive more satisfying sexual stimulation and achieve better orgasms. However, this does not mean that ingesting a partner’s semen will lead to more satisfying relationships or sexual experiences.
Communication and Swallowing A Partner’s Ejaculate
It is important to have open communication with your partner before engaging in fellatio so that both partners are aware of each other’s preferences. This means that one partner cannot just assume that the other is alright with swallowing their partner’s ejaculate. Asking for consent from a partner can be incorporated into the sexual activity process and should always take place before the initiation of fellatio. Open communication can make any sexual activity more enjoyable because both partners can become aware of each other’s desires.
Swallowing a partner’s ejaculate is not for everyone and every partner should accept and respect the other’s preferences. This does not mean that oral sex cannot take place. Spitting out the ejaculate or withdrawing the penis before ejaculation are both viable options for those who decide not to swallow their partner’s ejaculate.
Choosing to swallow or not swallow a partner’s ejaculate are both preferences that should be respected. It is crucial to maintain an open line of communication with all partners about one’s sexual preferences, including how comfortable they are with swallowing ejaculate. Although there are no direct health benefits from swallowing ejaculate, if both partners are STI free, it is entirely healthy to do so and can be a great addition to fellatio for both partners.
- Owen, D. H., & Katz, D. F. (2005). A review of the physical and chemical properties of human semen and the formulation of a semen simulant. Journal of andrology, 26(4), 459–469. https://doi.org/10.2164/jandrol.04104
- Matson, P. L., Myssonski, K., Yovich, S., Morrison, L., Irving, J., & Bakos, H. W. (2010). The density of human semen and the validation of weight as an indicator of volume: a multicentre study. Reproductive biology, 10(2), 141–153. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1642-431x(12)60056-4
- Rehan, N., Sobrero, A. J., & Fertig, J. W. (1975). The semen of fertile men: statistical analysis of 1300 men. Fertility and sterility, 26(6), 492–502. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0015-0282(16)41169-6
- Dawson, Chris. (2019). How semen and sperm quality affect male fertility. Netdoctor.co.uk.https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/conditions/sexual-health/a12002/semen-and-spermquality/#:~:text=The%20concentration%20of%20spermatozoa%20should,per%20cent%20to%20be%20dead).
- Goldblatt M. W. (1935). Constituents of human seminal plasma. The Biochemical journal, 29(6), 1346–1357. https://doi.org/10.1042/bj0291346
Last Updated: 4 March 2021.