Growing up, we all hear a lot of weird things about sex, including a few weird things about semen, specifically. One rumor I remember circulating among the girls in my class — who, as middle schoolers in the age of 2000s diet culture, had already learned to count calories and hate ourselves — held that swallowing but a single load would cost you at least a thousand calories, maybe more.
While that particular bit of spunk mythology didn’t hold up — a quick Google search suggests your average load boasts a mere five to 25 calories — another popular semen-related rumor that made the rounds in middle school seems to have survived adolescence. The idea that semen possesses anti-aging qualities remains, for lack of a better term, “a thing” among adults, whether or not anyone really buys it. New York City-based comedian Olga Namer tells a joke about having “a very young-looking lower back,” but talk of semen’s rumored anti-aging properties isn’t always in jest. A few years ago, “semen facials” — practiced as an actual spa treatment, not a sex act — made headlines as a buzzy new skincare trend.
So, as Carrie Bradshaw might say, I couldn’t help but wonder: is semen actually anti-aging?
The answer, as you might expect, is no, but also yes, kind of. According to dermatologist Dr. Will Kirby, Chief Medical Officer at LaserAway, there is, to the best of his admittedly inexpert knowledge on the topic, “no evidence in the medical literature to support any rumored benefit from semen facials.” If anything, he adds, use of semen in skincare only puts one at risk of developing conditions like contact dermatitis, conjunctivitis and possibly contracting communicable diseases — i.e. STIs.
“I’d highly dissuade anyone from this type of treatment would politely redirect them to more studied skin fitness routines readily available from licensed professionals,” Dr. Kirby tells InsideHook.
That said, there may still be some reason to believe that semen’s rumored anti-aging powers aren’t total BS. According to New York-based dermatologist Dr. Jennifer MacGregor, “There is scientific evidence to suggest that spermidine, a chemical found in semen, has many beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.” In fact, she tells InsideHook, spermidine is currently being manufactured and sold as a popular anti-aging supplement, and “research shows it might even improve cellular function and prolong life expectancy.”
The problem — as is the problem with many supplements — is that spermidine supplements aren’t standardized and are rarely checked to see if they actually contain what’s on the label, says Dr. MacGregor. In other words, “Use at your own risk,” she says.
As for semen itself, Dr. MacGregor says that while the sexual fluid does contain spermidine, the quantity found in ejaculate is too small to provide any real benefit. Semen also contains various other potentially skin-boosting ingredients, including vitamins like magnesium and zinc, protein and urea, which, according to Dr. MacGregor, is a common skincare ingredient that boasts “unique hydrating and exfoliating properties.” (And, yes, it comes from urine.) However, like spermidine, these vitamins and other compounds don’t exist at a high enough volume in semen to provide any significant benefit to the skin.
Moreover, Dr. MacGregor echoes Dr. Kirby’s warning that besides being impractical, attempting to incorporate semen into your skincare routine could be downright risky, leaving you vulnerable to STIs and other conditions. The bottom line: “Barring the risk of transmitting infections, consuming semen could theoretically be good for you; however, the quantities of beneficial compounds in typical ejaculate volumes are not sufficient,” says Dr. MacGregor.
However, she does note that there is some evidence to suggest that semen exposure may be beneficial for other reasons. Dr. MacGregor cites a study that found sex without condoms had a “mood-boosting effect” on women, as opposed to protected sex. This, she says, “could be partly due to semen ‘exposures,’” perhaps suggesting that semen boasts mood-boosting or even antidepressant properties. (Of course, she adds, it’s possible the effects researchers observed had more to do with increased feelings of intimacy or other emotional aspects of fluid bonding than semen, but that certainly isn’t going to stop anyone from claiming a raw load is nature’s Prozac.)
But as for any potential skin benefits of taking a load to the face (or lower back), it would seem the rumors of semen’s anti-aging properties have been greatly exaggerated, and are probably, according to Dr. Kirby, rooted in little more than the perverted musings of “an emotionally immature man.”
“It’s human nature to gossip and spread rumors,” he adds. “And the more perverted the secret is, the faster it travels.” (And, of course, the more likely you are to click on an article about it.)
Still, while taking the occasional load to the face may not be responsible for any youthful complexions, it’s probably not doing any harm — as long as the ejaculatory partner gets tested regularly and kindly aims away from the eyes.
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