ALBANY - NY: It's a no brainer, Sex Makes You Smile, science and it's never ending need to prove the obvious has come up with some twists that just might make you smile even harder. According to researchers at the State University of New York at Albany "Women who are directly exposed to semen are less depressed than those who are not" the ingestion of semen could reduce stress and lower depression. Possibly due to the presence of sugar-based enzymes, such as fructose and inositol, or metabolism catalyzers, like citric acid or vitamin B12, semen intake appears to serve as a natural mood stabilizer. Another study, conducted at Yale University, found that women who swallow semen while performing oral sex are at a lower risk for developing preeclampsia, a pregnancy-related, high-blood pressure disorder. Semen contains selenium, a powerful antioxidant, possibly a contributor to the Allover Afterglow of sex?
The study, conducted by Psychology Professor Gordon Gallup, found that females who were not using condoms for sexual intercourse were less depressed than females who did use condoms, possibly because when absorbed through the vagina, semen may have an effect on mood in women.
Nearly 300 females filled out anonymous questionnaires designed to measure various aspects of their sexual behavior, including frequency of sexual intercourse, the number of days since their last sexual encounter and whether or not they used condoms. Each respondent was also asked to complete the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), a widely used measure of individual differences in depressive symptoms. According to Gallup, "females who engaged in sexual intercourse but never used condoms exhibited significantly lower scores on the BDI than those who usually or always used condoms."
Gallup's control variables included: method of contraception, frequency of sexual intercourse, as well as the women's perception of their relationship. He concedes that women who regularly have sex without condoms might share personality traits that make them less susceptible to depression. But the behavior most often associated with non-condom users is sexual risk-taking, and studies have found no correlation between high-risk sexual behavior and lower rates of depression.
Gallup's study, which he deems "the first serious attempt to investigate the effect of semen chemistry on women," titillated the public and rankled some academics upon publication in Archives of Sexual Behavior. Gallup says he has since replicated the findings with a sample of 700 women and will examine whether "semen withdrawal" places women at an increased risk for depression when they are premenstrual, menopausal or have just given birth, as many women abstain from sex during these periods.
Researchers explored other explanations for the varying BDI scores, such as frequency of intercourse, use of oral contraceptives and whether or not the female was in a relationship. The study indicates condom use accounted for more variance in depression than any of the other predictors.
While the study raises many questions, it shows that the consistency of condom use is directly related to the level of depressive symptoms among sexually active females. "Regardless of the findings, this study does not advocate that people abstain from using condoms," said Professor Gallup. "Protecting yourself from an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease is far more important."
Semen contains hormones including testosterone, estrogen, prolactin, luteinizing hormone and prostaglandins, and some of these are absorbed through the walls of the vagina and are known to elevate mood.
There is of course a dark side to all this, Gallup also found that women who routinely had sex without a condom became increasingly depressed as more time elapsed since their last sexual encounter, there was no such correlation for women whose partners regularly used condoms. Women who had sex without a condom were most likely to initiate sex and to seek out new partners. "These women are more vulnerable to the rebound effect, which suggests that there is a chemical dependency," says Gallup.
Gallup has undertaken an extended study on more than 700 women has backed up these findings. He added that "other factors such as how often the women had sex, the strength of their relationships, their personalities or the use of oral contraceptives did not affect the overall conclusions."
Gallup said "these findings may also apply to women who engage in unprotected oral sex and people who engage in anal sex. But he said further research was needed in these areas"
But Gallup, whose study has been published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour, urged couples to continue to practise safe sex. "I want to make it clear that we are not advocating that people abstain from using condoms," he said.