We all know that you need sperm and an egg to make a baby, but did you know seminal fluid plays a key role in reproduction as well? It’s apparently so much more than just a simple “vehicle for sperm,” as many of us were taught in school, and if you're looking to get pregnant anytime at all in the future, you might want to consider tossing out your condoms (or any barriers that would prevent your husband’s semen from entering you) before it's time to make a baby. Your body will thank you due to the fact that his wonder drug decreases a woman's risk of preeclampsia, suppresses her uterine immune response, reduces uterine inflammation, balances her hormones, and helps make pregnancies "sticky."
But that’s not all – just wait until you learn about all the toxic ingredients that condoms are made of. We’ve been putting what, where? It’s nasty, and you will want to keep them and your vagina literally as far apart as possible after you find out.
Semen Helps Regulate Your Hormones
The skin of the vaginal canal is highly permeable to water. This means that water (and almost whatever is in it) can easily pass from the outside of the vaginal lining, through its skin cells, and into your body via tiny capillaries. It’s like a sponge. Incidentally, the vagina is also a highly vascularized area. But, why is this important? Well, because the largest component of semen is water, and so whatever is in semen (as long as it's small enough) gets absorbed into your body and your bloodstream.
Along with a whole host of beneficial minerals, your man’s ejaculate also contains “endorphins, estrone, prolactin, oxytocin, thyrotropin-releasing hormone, and serotonin.” And scientists suspect this cocktail is what halts female depressive symptoms in their tracks. In one study, scientists found that college-aged females who engaged in sex without condoms were less depressed than their condom-using counterparts. Not only that, a significant correlation in the condom use group was found between depressive symptoms/suicide attempts and their “consistency of condom use.” Interestingly, the correlation between the two was not only positive, it was proportional. To make sure these results were not being confounded by breakups, relationship length, and other variables, the barrier-free women were monitored, and it was found that as the time between sexual encounters increased (and consequently the feel-good chemicals in semen), so did their depressive symptoms, suggesting that semen really is the responsible party for preventing depression.
Your man's ejaculate contains beneficial minerals, oxytocin, endorphins, serotonin, and melatonin.
Coincidentally, semen also contains two hormones responsible for healthy egg maturation (FSH) and timely ovulation (LH). Scientists suspect this is essentially an evolutionary survival-of-the-species tactic built into our biology. What better way to help ensure the survival of the human race than by increasing a mated pair’s fertility?
Lastly, of all things, semen also contains melatonin, and as we all know, melatonin helps humans achieve higher quality sleep. Suspected to aid in sperm quality and motility, melatonin also, unsurprisingly, has health benefits for the female too, as quality sleep is needed to keep the body out of a state of inflammation, and high levels of inflammation can hinder female fertility.
Semen Helps Make Pregnancies “Sticky”
Scientists have found a strong and surprising link between sex, successful implantation, and early baby development (6-8 weeks). They divided women undergoing IVF into two groups and instructed one group to have sex around the time of the transfer and the other to abstain. They also told the sex group that intravaginal male ejaculation must take place. The result? The women who were exposed to their partner’s semen were 43% more likely to achieve pregnancy than their no-sex counterparts.
Scientists studying the immunology of mice uteruses give us insight into why semen plays such a huge role in achieving pregnancy. Through their trials, they determined that it was the semen, not the sperm, of the male mice that caused female mice's uteruses to mount an immune response. They observed that while the female mice’s immunity cells increased, their immune response to the paternal cells decreased, making their body less likely to attack and kill a developing baby. This is also one of the many reasons why scientists believe IVF has such a dismal success rate – there’s no semen present to properly attenuate the local immune response.
Semen Lowers the Risk of Preeclampsia
The importance of the above studies is made all the more clear when you consider this: A woman’s risk of preeclampsia decreases the longer (and more often) she has unprotected sex with a singular male partner. One study found statistics so significant they reported that “women in the highest 10th percentile of vaginal exposure had a 70% reduced odds of preeclampsia relative to women in the lowest 25th percentile of exposure” and recommended that all women seeking to get pregnant for the first time should stop using barriers and participate in vaginal sex (as oral sex had absolutely no effect in reducing preeclampsia risk) regularly, prior to conception in order to reduce their chances of getting preeclampsia.
To get these benefits however, again, the woman has to be monogamous. If she switches partners but has had children before, one study noted that the lost immunity would be so severe, for health and safety reasons, she should be treated as if she had never been pregnant before. Her risk of preeclampsia goes right back up to where it started.
Semen exposure through a long-term, monogamous partner can greatly reduce a woman’s odds of developing preeclampsia.
Condoms Inhibit Fertility in More Ways Than Just the Obvious
As you probably remember from earlier, the vagina is highly permeable, with only a thin layer of tissue separating what's “outside” of you, from what's inside of you (your circulatory and lymphatic systems). This is why it's so important to be aware of what we put into our vaginas, and in terms of condoms? They're nothing but bad news.
These are just a handful of the ingredients used in condoms and their effects on the human body, some of which, by the way, have not been tested on female genitalia, where the “first-pass effect” never takes place because chemicals in the vagina have the ability to go straight into the bloodstream and don’t lose their concentration first by passing through the stomach and intestines before being absorbed into the body.
Obviously, not all chemicals are able to be absorbed in this way in the concentrations they are found in condoms (some will be less and some will be much more, as in this finding, where it was observed that vaginal absorption of synthetic estrogen increased blood serum estrogen levels 10x higher than that of oral dosing), but, the fact remains, we simply don’t know how much of what from condom exposure actually is being absorbed through the vagina because very few experiments are available for review in this arena. So really, it’s just “buyer beware” for now, and that’s none too comforting.
Nonoxynol-9 is a spermicide that used to be found often in condom manufacturing. It's not used commonly these days due to its severe side effects, but it's also not illegal to use in the U.S., so you may still run into it on occasion. It may kill good vaginal bacteria, and irritate, abrade, and damage genital tissues making you more susceptible to STDs.
Parabens are endocrine disruptors. They have the ability to throw our hormones out of whack, harm male and female fertility, cause miscarriage and other adverse birth outcomes, and increase our risk of cancer. And where are we putting them when we use condoms? Ohh yeah, right next to all of those sensitive organs. Also, parabens are currently banned in the EU but not in the U.S., so that’s fun.
Phthalates are used to make plastic flexible, and all phthalates are nasty, but diethyl phthalate especially so. Not only is it an endocrine disruptor, but it has the potential to damage sperm, cause miscarriage, negatively affect baby growth and development if exposed in utero, and cause possible liver damage.
A common lubricant used in condoms that the company isn't legally required to disclose. If it's left inside the vaginal canal for long enough, it can transform into sugar, throw off your PH balance, and make you more susceptible to yeast infections.
A numbing agent that manufacturers, again, aren't required to disclose on the packaging. Side effects can include: death (if too much is absorbed), blistering or burning of the skin, itching, stinging, scaling, cracking, or severe swelling and soreness of the skin, dizziness, difficulty with breathing, irritability, unusual bleeding, and unusual weakness. The list of side effects was so long that I didn't even list them all, but you can find the rest here.
Found in car exhaust, cigarette smoke, and some coffee cups, styrene is used to make a wide range of modern-day products, including condoms. Exposure to its gas form can cause death, and in the long term, lymphoma-type cancers, but don’t worry, it’s totally safe if it’s in its solid form and right up against your semi-permeable mucous membranes…
Condoms are filled with carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and reproductive hazards.
A byproduct of latex production. Nitrosamines can cause tumor growth when ingested, and are also found in second-hand smoke, cosmetics, and some cured meats. Also interesting to note, though nitrosamines in condoms haven’t been “proven” to cause cancer, in 2010, the WHO nevertheless strongly encouraged manufacturers to stop using them in condoms. Because nitrosamines are not illegal however, they’re still occasionally used in condom manufacturing.
Propylene & Propylene Glycol
Found in frozen yogurt, cosmetics, toothpaste, and highly-toxic antifreeze, these chemicals are also commonly used in condom lubricants as a preservative and can cause vaginal irritation. The FDA states these chemicals are safe when used in normal amounts, but honestly, as a health authority, they don’t have a good track record of keeping Americans safe, so I’d take that advice with a grain of salt.
Now, obviously, there are some “natural” or “toxin-free” (terms that aren’t regulated, by the way) options for condoms out there, but let's just be real here. After examining the substantial benefits that semen provides to the female body, why would you want to avoid it?
While using the fertility awareness method, you might enjoy the extra security a condom can provide when nearing your ovulation date in order to avoid pregnancy, but the truth is, abstaining from sex for just 1-4 extra days would actually provide you more protection and security because at that point you’d run absolutely zero risk of exposing your body to anything harmful. Plus, I hear that while distance makes the heart grow fonder, abstinence makes the orgasms stronger…
We try not to touch receipts so that we don’t absorb the BPA through our skin, and we try our best to choose non-toxic skincare and makeup in order to avoid endocrine disruptors. It only makes sense that we give our vagina the same red carpet treatment.
Even if you’re not looking to get pregnant this year, your husband’s semen is still extremely beneficial to your female physiology. So what’s holding you back? The happiest and healthiest years of your life could start tonight.
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