Penile Prozac: The mood-enhancing chemical composition of semen

One of the most magical things about the male human penis is that it shoots out a super cool cocktail of feel good chemicals. 

Despite being the most famous ingredient in semen, sperm cells actually only account for about 1-5% of male human ejaculate.  But if you drain out all those cute little tadpole babies you’re left with rich seminal plasma full of interesting surprises!

You might have heard gossip about the benefits of semen for women before.  Over the years I’ve heard buzz through the grapevine like that it is healing or moisturising for the skin, or that it’s a great low calorie source of protein…   In this case, the science that you’re about to learn is just as surprising as the rumours.  

Semen composition includes a bunch of mood enhancing chemicals, which through absorption (of the vaginal walls) can potentially act as a sort of natural anti-depressant for the lucky recipient.

These are just some of the compounds found in semen that are known to improve mood:

  • Estrone (elevates mood)

  • Prolactin (anti-depressant)

  • Oxytocin (elevates mood)

  • Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (anti-depressant)

  • Melatonin (sleep-inducing)

  • Serotonin (anti-depressant)

Serotonin in particular is a well known neurotransmitter that is most commonly associated with depression and anti-depressant medications.  SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are the most prescribed group of medication for depression in the UK.  With NHS rates for prescription costs ever increasing, maybe we should look in to semen as a cost-free, sustainable alternative.

In order to investigate whether these chemicals can actually deliver the goods in seminal form and through vaginal uptake, Gallup, Burch and Platek carried out a correlation study to find out if women who have regular unprotected sex (implying regular semen delivery to the vaginal wall) are less depressed than those who do not. 

The study found that women who never used condoms did actually show significantly fewer depressive symptoms than women who usually or always used condoms.  Women who never used condoms also had fewer depressive symptoms than women who abstained from sex completely.  And also had fewer depressive symptoms than women who were very sexually active but used condoms.  The pattern of results show that the rate of depressive symptoms isn’t related to the amount of sex the women are having, but may be actually a function of the uptake of semen! 


*Of course this article should not be used as a persuasive material for condom-free sex.  If you have unprotected sex, sure you might get a little elevated mood, but you might also get a DISEASE OR A BABY.  So please continue practicing safe sex until you are in a safe and smart place in your life to go condom free, then you can happily enjoy all the seminal benefits.  For further information on how to practice safe sex have a look at our Resources page.

We are yet to find out if the same chemical effects would be provided through oral or anal uptake, but hopefully these studies are coming soon.

Gordon G. Gallup Jr., Rebecca L. Burch, and Steven M. Platek, “Does Semen Have Antidepressant Qualities?,” Archives of Sexual Behaviour 31, no. 3 (2002)

Rebecca L. Burch and Gordon G. Gallup Jr., ”The Psychobiology of Human Semen.” Female infidelity and paternal uncertainty (2006)