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The Sexual Boundary Issue That's Seldom Discussed

Many men have a request that confounds many women.

You want what? Every couple must negotiate sexual boundaries both people can live with. There's no right or wrong, just what the two people need or want and hope that the other is willing.

Fifty years ago, a major boundary issue was oral sex. Back then, "sex" meant vaginal intercourse and only that. But slowly fellatio and cunnilingus became more accepted. Today, oral sex is by no means universal, but it's a rare lover who has not experimented with it, and most American lovers now engage in oral play at least occasionally.

However, based on the questions I've received on GreatSexAfter40, one element of oral play continues to present a challenge: Many men would love to ejaculate in women’s mouths and have their lovers swallow the semen. But many women object to a mouthful of ejaculate and can’t imagine swallowing. Here are some thoughts on resolving conflict.

No Coercion

The first rule: No one should ever feel pressured or coerced into being sexual in ways they find disagreeable. If women are okay with men ejaculating in their mouths and swallowing, then fine, enjoy yourselves.

But if not, men should not press women, or should they turn either of these requests into tests of their lovers’ commitment and devotion. Plenty of women are madly in love with their men, and they still don’t want a mouthful of semen. Lovers should always respect each other’s erotic boundaries, and if for any reason, women draw a boundary, they have every right to feel that way. Men shouldn’t give them a hard time.

Of course, if men feel strongly about this, they are free to break up with lovers who refuse, but in 40 years of writing about sexuality, I've never heard of anyone ending things over this issue.

STI Transmission?

That said, many women who object to semen in the mouth have specific fears and objections that may not be valid. One common fear is that it may spread sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is possible to transmit one STI this way—gonorrhea (pharyngeal gonorrhea). This may cause a sore throat, but typically pharyngeal gonorrhea causes no symptoms. Women concerned about gonorrhea risk have every right to decline until their lovers test negative for gonorrhea.

A bigger fear is the oral transmission of HIV/AIDS. Actually, the AIDS virus is highly unlikely to spread orally, unless the woman has bleeding gums, a canker sore, or some other oral wound that allows infected-semen-to-blood contact. Men should have no objection to getting tested.

Meanwhile, one way around any STI concern is using a condom. Men ejaculate in women’s mouths but not into them.

Rifle Shot?

Some women fear injury from the force of ejaculation. In many literary descriptions of lovemaking, men don’t just come, they “explode” or “shoot” semen as though the penis were a rifle and ejaculate bullets.

It’s not like that. Ejaculation may feel explosive to the men experiencing it, but to women who receive it orally, it’s not at all like a gunshot but more like biting down on a warm cherry tomato.

Another fear is that women may gag on a huge volume of semen. But most men don’t ejaculate buckets. The volume of the typical ejaculation is somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. (An old slang term for it was “the loving spoonful,” which was how some sources say the 1960s folk-rock band, The Lovin’ Spoonful, got its name.)

Meanwhile, as men age beyond their reproductive years, semen production declines. Men in their 50s ejaculate less semen than younger men, and by the time men hit their mid-60s, they ejaculate only a small amount. So women who objected during their 20s may feel differently with men over 60, who don’t produce much.

97 Percent Water

Many women object to the taste of semen, which some say tastes odd, while others deem it foul, gross, or disgusting. Because of the taste, some women fear that semen contains ingredients that might harm them. No.

Semen is comprised of:

  • Water—97 percent of seminal volume.
  • Sperm—2 percent. Sperm cells are mostly protein.
  • Fructose, fruit sugar, which nourishes sperm.
  • Vitamin C.
  • Sodium bicarbonate, better known as “baking soda,” a compound that protects sperm from the acidic environment of the vagina and uterus.
  • Magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
  • Various proteins, amino acids, and enzymes.

It’s the zinc that gives semen its unusual metallic flavor. Zinc helps nourish sperm. In the human diet, zinc is an essential trace mineral. Women face no harm from ingesting semen, even if they swallow frequently.

Again, a good way around the odd-taste problem is using a condom.

Non-Fattening

Some women fear that swallowing semen causes weight gain. No. The typical ejaculate contains only around 20 calories, about as much as a lifesaver.

Better-Tasting Semen

Some urologists claim that, because semen includes a precise mixture of ingredients necessary to support sperm, its taste can’t be changed.

However, many women insist that diet makes a big difference. Former porn star, Annie Sprinkle, who claims to have tasted the semen of 1,000 men, says vegetarians taste best, that the taste improves if men drink a lot of fruit juice (particularly apple and pineapple), and that smoking, alcohol, meats, and asparagus spoil the taste.

Internet discussions generally agree that semen can be sweetened with a diet high in fruit and fruit juices. They also generally agree on the foods that foul the taste: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, deep-fried foods, meats, dairy foods, alcohol, coffee, and asparagus (which makes sense because of its well-known ability to alter the aroma of urine). Cigarettes also make semen less palatable. While there is no authoritative research on the subject, it’s good for health to quit smoking and to consume more fruit and less meat, fried foods, and alcohol.

Massage Lotion?

In porn, the women rarely swallow. Instead, they make a great show of letting semen dribble out of their mouths and massaging it into their skin. Some men find this erotic, and even preferable to swallowing.

Did I miss anything? If you’ve ever struggled with this issue, how have you resolved the conflict?

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