What happens if you eat your own sperm?

Dear Alice,

I'm worried. What happens if you eat your own sperm?

Dear Reader,

When sperm is ingested by swallowing semen, the sperm will be broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream as if consuming water, milk, or gelatin. If it's semen (the liquid that carries the sperm from the penis) that a person is worried about, ingesting one's own semen is safe if that person is free of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

On the other hand, swallowing one's own semen is unsafe if a person has certain STIs. In this case, the risk depends on what STI a person has, its method of transmission, and the area(s) of infection. With swallowing semen, the primary concern is with infections that localize in the genitals, mouth, and/or throat. If the infection can be transferred through semen, and it can infect different locations independently, then there is a chance that the infection can spread to the mouth or throat. This type of infection includes gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Certain STIs, such as human papillomavirus (HPV, the virus that can cause genital warts), herpes, and syphilis, spread through direct, skin-to-skin or oral-genital contact. Some men can, and do, go down on themselves. If they have HPV, herpes, and/or syphilis, the infection(s) can spread from their penis to their lips, mouth, or throat.

Swallowing one's own semen does not pose health risks with respect to systemic infections (e.g., HIV). These infections are in the bloodstream and their symptoms are present throughout the body.

So if you're STI-free, feel free to indulge yourself! Just be careful you don't spoil your dinner.

Last updated Feb 09, 2015
Originally published Nov 15, 1996

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