Semen as Antidepressant


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Now that I have just written a rather dry post, I thought I'd see what's up with my Google Analytics. Some Google searches that have brought people to this site are pretty funny:

"obligatory sex activity" 

"paleo sex how often"

Well I much say that it's important for paleo dieters to have sex every day. It's obligatory because it's rather good for you. I totally apologize to the person who searched for "negative effects of men being pushed into having sex" for this post because it might cause more of that sort of thing.

Now that I have journal access again, I've been reading some interesting papers. I'm surprised this one was published, because I'm sure it will lead to some awkward pickup lines at campus bars.

Dude: Feeling down?

Girl: Yeah, just a bit.

Dude: Well I just read a paper in Archives of Sexual Behavior called Does Semen Have Antidepressant Properties? The p-value is pretty high. You might want to try it out.

Yes, I'm serious, this is a real paper. It relies on surveys of sexual behavior and depressive behavior in co-eds in Albany. That's one strike against it already, since people in Albany are known to be depressed because they live in Albany, despite the fact that 87% of the women were having sex. But more seriously, surveys themselves are rather suspect. I remember quite vividly lying on surveys in health class in high school, though I imagine they threw mine out because I said I did heroin 20 times a day.

The researchers cited evidence that hormones in semen are absorbed through the vaginal wall and could possibly influence behavior. Some of these hormones include testosterone, estrogen, follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, prolactin, and a number of different prostaglandins. The vaginal cells are surprisingly good at absorbing these things. The researchers speculated that this might affect women's mood.

Based on the survey, it seems women engaging in unprotected sex were less depressed. Women who used condoms were just as depressed as women not having sex at all. The researchers admitted that the data was preliminary and correlational and call for further studies.

The researchers noted that there could be many explanations. Women who didn't use condoms had more sex, which the researchers said might make them less depressed (lol). They also said that given the risks of unprotected sex, that it might be more likely such women were in long-term monogamous relationships. When I wrote about Sex at Dawn, which posits that humans are "naturally promiscious" I noted that this doesn't really provide a solution for having a satisfying modern sex life. I think this paper highlights a benefit mostly enjoyed in long term monogamous relationships in our modern society where sex is fairly dangerous.

They regrettably omitted what is totally obvious to anyone who has ever used a condom already knows: that they suck and no one likes them.They also omitted discussion of other ways in which semen might enter a woman's system.

Other factors notably absent include whether or not the women practiced birth control and which type, which can have a huge influence on women's moods for better or worse.

What follows in this journal are two hilarious letters. One is Greater Frequency of Penile–Vaginal Intercourse Without Condoms is Associated with Better Mental Health and the other is Sparse Evidence for the Association between Lack of Condom Use and Better Mental Health, a killjoy which accurately takes down the survey accuracy of the studies cited. I do think that given all the stuff that's in semen, that it has more complex effects than we give it credit for. In hunter-gatherer societies women are often exposed to large amounts of it, and sometimes men are too.* And it's an interesting topic that I hope to post more about. Some other aspects that I've researched include the declining quality of semen in modern times. 

* See Ritualized Homosexuality in Melanesia (VERY VERY NSFW), one part of the Pacific diet that is not often written about...