Seminophagia, is the ingestion of semen for erotic gratification and/or physical or spiritual benefits. Sources of semen are either human males or male animals. The most common way that swallowing of semen occurs is when fellatio or irrumatio are performed to climax. Spermophagia is engaged in by people of both sexes. Men may consume their own semen after masturbation, sex, or autofellatio.
Semen is primarily composed of water, but has been shown to contain trace amounts of virtually every nutrient the human body uses, including DHA (an important omega-3 fatty acid). It has somewhat higher amounts of commonly deficient minerals such as potassium, magnesium and selenium. A tablespoon of semen contains approximately 20 calories. One typical ejaculation contains 150 mg of protein, 11 mg of carbohydrates, 6 mg fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 7% US RDA potassium and 3% US RDA copper and zinc.  The protein content of semen is roughly equivalent to that found in the egg white of a large egg.
- Antidepressant: Semen has been proven to act as a strong antidepressant in women. Women physically exposed to semen are less likely to suffer from depression. It is thought that the psychological effects of semen are a result of its complex chemical make-up, including several mood-altering hormones (testosterone, oestrogen, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, prolactin and several different prostaglandins, epinephrine, dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin). Because of these properties it has been called, "Nature's Prozac." The effect of semen on a male sexual partner (a receiver of semen) is not known. These studies involved vaginal sex without condoms, however, the gastrointestinal tract is much more conducive to facilitate nutrient absorption than either the vagina or the rectum.
- Cancer prevention: Studies suggest that seminal plasma both prevents and fights cancer, particularly breast cancer, reducing risk by "not less than 50 percent." This effect is attributed to its glycoprotein and selenium content, with apoptosis being induced by TGF-Beta. A related urban legend parodied these findings and claimed that performing fellatio at least three times a week reduced the risk of breast cancer.
- Support for the human musculoskeletal system: Because of its hormone and mineral content, semen ingestion has other areas of potential health benefits which have not yet been fully researched. These areas include a possible role in musculoskeletal support. Spermophagia provides the body with testosterone, which is important to maintain muscle and bone strength. While women need a smaller proportion of testosterone than men, it is just as important to female health as it is to male. Testosterone reduces the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack), protects against stroke, and can even treat diabetes mellitus. Testosterone is particularly important after menopause. When testosterone levels in the blood increase in testosterone-deficient women, bone density usually improves, and women generally report that they feel better.
- Preeclampsia]] prevention: It has been hypothesized that substances in semen condition a mother's immune system to accept the "foreign" proteins found in sperm as well as the resulting fetus and placenta, keeping blood pressure low and thereby reducing the risk of preeclampsia. Regular exposure to the baby's father's semen, especially orally, may help make a woman's pregnancy safer and more successful, because she is absorbing her partner's antigens.
Medical knowledge about the beneficial health effects of ingesting semen has been slow to increase. As late as 1976, doctors were advising women in the eighth and ninth months of pregnancy not to swallow semen lest it induce premature labor, even though it is now known to be not only safe, but beneficial.
There is no risk in ingesting the semen of a healthy man. Seminophagia otherwise carries no major known risk other than those inherent in fellatio. Fellatio does carry some risk for HIV, however, HIV is inhibited by saliva and destroyed by stomach acid. Research has suggested that performing unprotected oral sex on a person infected with [human papillomavirus (HPV) might increase the risk of oral cancer or throat cancer. The study found that 36 percent of the cancer patients had HPV compared to only 1 percent of the healthy control group. It is believed that this is due to the transmission of HPV because this virus has been implicated in the majority of cervical cancers. Other herpes viruses, not limited to cytomegalovirus, may also be contracted which increase the risk of cancers in certain individuals. Even if semen is cold before the individual ingests it, viruses can stay active for a long period of time once outside the body. Contracting diseases from oral sex is more likely if there are sores in the mouth.
Taste and quantity
One source has noted that "few women praise the taste" of semen. However, as with breast milk, the taste of semen can be altered by diet. Higher red meat and dairy intake may increase its generally salty taste. Asparagus notoriously causes bitterness, while parsley, celery, cinnamon, and many kinds of fruit (especially tropical) are noted to sweeten it. The semen of heavy smokers and drinkers tends to carry a more acrid taste.
The volume of semen ejaculate varies, but a teaspoonful to a tablespoonful is normal (5 to 15 mL), making 10 mL a rough average. However, the amounts can be double or more in cases of prolonged interval between ejaculations, or depending on the man himself. Younger males tend to produce larger quantities.
Men generally prefer that their semen be swallowed rather than spit out because it provides a feeling of acceptance. Also, continuing to suck through the orgasm leaves him both physically and emotionally satisfied. 
Several tribes of Papua New Guinea (including the Baruya, Etoro, Gebusi, Kaluli and Sambia) believe that semen provides sexual maturation among the younger men of their tribe. To them, sperm possesses the manly nature of the tribal elders, and in order to pass down their authority and powers, younger men of their next generation must eat/drink their elders' semen. This fellatio and seminophagia custom commences among prepubescent males and postpubescents. Emigration is now reportedly much stronger in younger generations, so foreigners and missionaries are usually expected to participate in the ritual.
In the modern St. Priapus Church, consumption of semen in the presence of others is a form of worship. It is esteemed as sacred because of its divine life-giving power. Some chapters of the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica practice the consumption of semen during the Gnostic Mass, composed by Aleister Crowley.
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