7 Things No One Ever Told You About Male Bodily Fluids
The thing about bodily fluids is that no one ever wants to talk about them. Whether it's sweat, saliva, urine, or blood, it all tends to make people change the topic fairly quickly. But when it comes to male bodily fluids — and bodily fluids in general — there are definitely a few important things to know, as well as a few interesting facts to keep in mind.
"When we think about males and fluids, the first thing that comes to mind is often semen," Alison Macklin, vice president of education and innovation at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, and author of Making Sense of "It", tells Bustle. "Semen is created using sperm from the testicles and nutrients, like proteins, from glands within the male reproductive system. When they are mixed together, they make semen."
Amazingly, a male will make about 14 gallons of this fluid in their lifetime, Macklin says. Count this as an interesting bodily fluid fact. And then consider the others that can be present during sexual activity, Macklin says, especially in terms of how they can impact your health. Read on for the things no one ever told you about male bodily fluids, according to experts.
1. The Smell Of Sweat Can Be Attractive
While we tend to think of sweat as either not so pleasant, or fairly benign, it can actually help attract two people together. One study revealed that a person may prefer a male whose odor contains immune genes that are different from their own. "Scientists believe that this instinctive desire for genetic difference serves the evolutionary function of ensuring stronger offspring," Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Astroglide’s resident sexologist, tells Bustle.
2. Precum Can Cause Pregnancy
The little bit of fluid that comes out of the penis before orgasm is known as "precum" or pre-ejaculatory fluid. And what many people don't know is that, like semen, it can carry sperm and result in pregnancy, Dr. O'Reilly says.
"Though the risk of pregnancy is considered lower, one study found that 41 percent of men have sperm in their [precum by the] time it is expelled," Dr. O'Reilly says. So it's important to use your preferred form of protection, just to be safe.
3. Precum Can Carry STIs
4. Ejaculate Volume Depends On Orgasm Frequency
How much ejaculate comes out when a male orgasms depends on how frequently they orgasm. "This is important both because (1) no one should panic because an individual ejaculate appears much 'smaller' than is typical for them, especially if they have been sexually very active recently but also (2) these factors recover quickly," sex researcher Nicole Prause, PhD, tells Bustle.
Studies have shown that within two days, the "ejaculate volume and sperm content that were decreased by recent increased masturbation frequency had returned to the level before the ejaculations," Dr. Prause says.
5. Ejaculate Contains Traces Of Urine
"Male ejaculate contains trace urea, a primary component of urine," Dr. Prause says. Which makes a lot of sense, seeing as it all comes from the same area.
"Ejaculate travels the same path as urine, so it is thought this simply reflects mixing from shared space," Dr. Prause says. It's nothing to be ashamed of or worried about, though. In fact, ejaculate contains urine for both males and females, to some degree.
6. Semen Can Cause Allergic Reactions
"It’s possible, in sexual activity for the semen to end up on a person’s skin," Macklin says. "For some people, this isn’t a big deal."
But for others, the contact can result in an allergic reaction. "Because semen has a lot of different proteins in it, those proteins can be irritating to some people’s skin," Macklin says. "So, if you get semen on your skin, just grab a wet washcloth and wipe it off. But again, if the person who ejaculated has a STI, is it possible to get an STI from the semen touching the skin."
7. Other Bodily Fluids Can Carry STIs
The other two bodily fluids to take into consideration when in close contact with any person are saliva and blood, in terms of whether or not they can transfer STIs.
"Exposure to saliva is pretty low risk," Macklin says. "HIV, for example absolutely can not be transmitted through saliva. It can’t be transmitted through tears or sweat for that matter. Sure, there is a slight risk a very common STI, HPV, can be transmitted, but it’s an extremely low risk."
But the same can't be said for blood. "Not only can blood transmit STIs including HIV, it can transmit other diseases," Macklin says. "If you don’t want to come into contact with male fluids, condoms offer really good protection, even against blood. Contain the fluid and you contain the risk."
In general, we don't really talk about bodily fluids. But the more everyone knows about them, and the less stigma surrounding them, the less risk there will be.