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Does ingesting semen have a laxative effect?

(1) Dear Alice,

I have asked this question to many sites with no response, but came (sorry:) ) upon your site which seems to be willing to post just about any question and answer them too, so here goes:

Is there a laxative effect of ingested ejaculate, or is it ALL in my head (oh gosh, another one :) )? I have found that when I ingest my own ejaculate, almost invariably within a matter of a few minutes, I have loose bowels.

(2) Dear Alice,

My boyfriend and I have been exploring oral sex for a couple months — but I've only just noticed that when I swallow I seem to experience a bout of diarrhea within a couple hours of doing so. Is it normal to have diarrhea from swallowing ejaculate?

Dear Reader #1 and Reader #2, 

Though others may have found this question hard to swallow (ba-dum-tcchh!), having the courage to be open about this issue is admirable. Finding yourself with a case of the runs can certainly put a damper on your whole sexual experience. While a semen allergy is one possible cause of dicey bowels, there may be other factors responsible for this discomfort. Nerves, an aversion to the taste, or exposure to fecal matter are just a few possible alternative explanations. 

To give you the low down on the composition of semen, it consists of fructose sugar, water, and a variety of other proteins—none of which are considered to have laxative properties. Once ingested, it is absorbed into the body and is broken down just like any other fluid rich in proteins. Some things to consider when diving into what may be causing your unpredictable bowels include: 

  • Do you feel nervous about sex or swallowing? Some people experience diarrhea when they are fraught with nerves. Even if you’re enjoying your sexual activities, nervous excitement can translate into a dash to the bathroom. Finding ways to relax or working with a health educator or mental health professional to manage your nerves could help. 
  • Have you recently been visiting other downstairs chambers before swallowing? If you’ve been partaking in anal sex, rimming, anal fingering, or other anal activities, the source of your gastrointestinal discomfort could be due to exposure to the bacteria in fecal matter. You may find that incorporating condoms into your rectal recreations creates a cleaner area of play. Additionally, washing the penis, finger, or toy afterwards, may also help to prevent those diarrheal bouts. 
  • Do you dislike the taste of semen? Just like any other food or drink, if you don’t like the taste of ejaculate, it might cause some unexpected reactions. Exploring your sexuality—alone or with a partner—should be enjoyable. If you’re just not groovin’ on the taste, consider communicating this with your partner so you can find other sexual or masturbatory activities you do enjoy. 
  • What else have you consumed before swallowing? Just had a big meal? Haven’t eaten all day? Perhaps it’s the act of performing these sexual activities themselves that are making you feel unsettled rather than the act of ingesting semen itself. 
  • Are you using lube? Some lubricants, especially oil-based ones, may contain certain ingredients that can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea when ingested. 
  • Do you have any medical conditions? Individuals with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more may have more sensitive intestines, which can cause diarrhea. 
  • Are you taking any medications? Diarrhea is a common side effect of drugs, especially antibiotics, antidepressants, antacids, chemotherapy drugs, and more. 

Even after thinking through these scenarios, you may still consider scheduling an appointment with a health care provider. It might be helpful to discuss additional prevention methods to avoid this from happening in the future. They may also be able to conduct further diagnostic tests to rule out anything else that may be contributing to your troubles. 

When all is said and done, a health care professional may find that you actually have a semen allergy. Although research on the topic is limited, it’s thought that human seminal plasma (HSP) allergy is an allergic reaction to the proteins in semen. HSP allergy has largely only been studied in women and is most common from ages 20 to 30. Although some will have a localized reaction, such as itchiness where the semen touches, more often they experience a whole-body reaction, which can include respiratory distress, hives, and gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea. 

No matter what the cause of your less-than-desirable reactions to swallowing semen, chatting with a health care provider could be a beneficial next step in dealing with this unwanted waste. 

Best of luck! 

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Last updated Nov 10, 2023
Originally published Apr 08, 2011

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