Semen: The New Prozac

Just in case you thought we only had one post related to penises and surgery today …

The editor-in-chief of Surgery News and president-elect of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Lazar Greenfield has resigned after publishing a Valentine’s Day editorial that enraged female colleagues. The offending piece cited a 2002 Archives of Sexual Behavior study titled “Does Semen Have Antidepressant Properties?” and included the joke “[N]ow we know there’s a better gift for that day than chocolates.”

First of all, a man ought to give a woman chocolates and semen on Valentine’s Day. But more importantly, we need to ask: Is this guy a misogynistic jerk, discouraging young women from entering the medical field, or is he being crucified over a harmless, albeit inappropriate, attempt at humor?

Ann M. Little, a professor at Colorado State University, is convinced of the former. She refers to the likes of Greenfield as “entitled sexist a–holes,” and suggests: “Someone needs a massive shipment of used tampons in his in-box … I just don’t think we think hard enough about the language we use.” (The first and second halves of this quote are totally consistent.)

On the other end of the spectrum is evolutionary psychologist Gordon G. Gallup Jr., who conducted the original semen-as-antidepressant study, and defends Greenfield. We asked him for his opinion. And asked him to clarify his, uh, seminal research.

What’s your take on this controversy?

People are overreacting to it, frankly. People who want to evaluate the research are free to do so, but I don’t think he said anything that was erroneous. People are reacting to it more on an emotional level than on a medical level. It’s political correctness, not a matter of science or evidence. It’s a shame he was forced to resign; I don’t think he was intending to offend anybody. Offense is in the eye of the beholder. … The criticisms are unfounded; they are based on emotions and feelings and politics, not based on the evidence.

What exactly did you conclude from the study?

What we discovered—which we’ve replicated and extended—is that among female college students, those having sex without condoms are less depressed as measured by objective scores on the Beck Depression Inventory, which is the test of choice by practicing clinicians for evaluating patients. We partitioned them into three groups—those having unprotected sex, those having sex with condoms, and those not having sex—and then partitioned them into subsets based on whether they were taking birth control pills, whether they were in committed relationships, and how long the relationships were going on. The antidepressant effect of semen exposure was the same accounting for the variables, while students having sex with condoms had the same rate of depression as students not having sex at all. (Approximately 13.5 percent of females who abstained or used condoms attempted suicide, as opposed to 4.5 percent of females exposed to semen.)

What’s the biological explanation?

Nobody knows the chemical process. Semen contains very large, complicated array of different compounds. Only 5 percent of ejaculate is sperm; what’s left is seminal plasma, which is a very rich concoction of chemicals, many of which have mood-altering effects from hormones and endorphins. There are even female sex hormones in male semen. Within an hour or two of unprotected sex, you can detect heightened levels of seminal chemicals in a woman’s bloodstream.

Does oral sex have the same effect?

There is evidence that chemicals in semen can survive the digestion process. I get a lot of emails, “semen testimonials,” from females who swear that the effect is robust and genuine.

So you’re saying unprotected intercourse and swallowing are the secrets to female happiness?

It’s not a happiness effect; it’s an effect on depression. There’s no evidence that it makes women happy, which is how a lot of people misconstrued it; just because you’re not depressed doesn’t mean you’re happy and vice versa. We’re not encouraging unprotected sex. If you think you’re depressed now and throw your condoms away, just wait until you have an unplanned pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease!

—Photo doctaShoes/Photobucket

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Comments

  1. The entire AIDS hysteria is yet another hoax. Protected sex is silly. Stupid pointless and unsatisfying. All those juices are designed to work together when they commingle.

  2. Ann M. Little, a professor at Colorado State University, is convinced of the former. She refers to the likes of Greenfield as “entitled sexist a–holes,” and suggests: “Someone needs a massive shipment of used tampons in his in-box … I just don’t think we think hard enough about the language we use.” (The first and second halves of this quote are totally consistent.)
    Is she serious? I wonder if her making those remarks mean that she should be forced to resign.

    What he did was tasteless and offensive but ending someone’s career over a single remark?

    • Tasteless? Sure. but I’m honestly wondering what was so offensive about what he said. Seriously, this has got to stop. We’re entering into some fairly Orwellian situations when a single joke is able to send a person’s (or should I say a man’s, because nobody would have canned a woman over this) career down the toilet.

      • You have a point. In the UK a few months ago there was a male sports anchor who made an offensive joke about one of his female coworkers on the air and he was canned for it. Yet a few weeks later on some show there was a panel of 4 women making offensive jokes about men…without consequence.

        But about the offensive part. I personally don’t see how it was offensive either however for the most part I’ll take someone else’s word when that someone else calls something offensive (if for no other reason than it may strike a sensitive area in them that I don’t have). I won’t question why someone found something offensive but I do question why this single remark (unless this guy has a history of such behavior that we don’t know about) dooms an entire career.

        • Well, the difference lies in he was making a joke about a specific co-worker people knew, whereas the four women were making jokes about men in general. There’s some rule about doing that on air–I just can’t recall it.

          In any case, I honestly don’t see what’s so offensive about the joke at all. Sure, it’s lame, but really, this woman overreacted, and if I met her in public, I’d probably punch her in the face and tell her to get a sense of humor and stop being the woman that makes men assume women don’t have a sense of humor.

          • Well, the difference lies in he was making a joke about a specific co-worker people knew, whereas the four women were making jokes about men in general. There’s some rule about doing that on air–I just can’t recall it.
            I realize the things I mentioned are taking place in another country but I still can’t help but notice that this man here was also making a joke about women in general. One gets laughs and the other gets forced to resign.

            But that woman’s reaction was uncalled for. In fact it sounds like she’s been angry with men for a long time and was just itching for a fuse to light.

  3. Maybe it is not a biological effect, but psychological; I mean: probably, those having sex withouth condoms, are involved in a fixed relationship, whereas not all, but maybe many of the women having sex with condom, are not; this may have an effect on happiness, as has been proved many times (happiness rates increase in long-term couples, unless there are of course marital problems).

    • GladToBeInThe21stCentury says:

      Thank you.

      I think the problem with the surgeon’s article, and the underlying research, is it is a very simplistic conjecture about a complex situation. So, just from the standpoint of someone in his position his needing to set higher standards for the quality of science it is a problem. Throw in the fact that it seems to belittle women in the sense of “all they need is a good F*#k” (a common projection men in power, even Sigmund Freud, have said about women seeking equality in the workplace), and this is why it is objectionable, unprofessional and people asked for his resignation.

  4. Is this guy a misogynistic jerk, discouraging young women from entering the medical field, or is he being crucified over a harmless, albeit inappropriate, attempt at humor?
    Well considering that he’s been made an example of via being forced to resign I don’t think the first one holds. That second one sounds pretty solid though. This is a case of overracting.

  5. Maybe the girls without protection are happier because they’re in a real relationship.
    Once you’re in a relationship you usually stop using condoms.

    • Natasha says:

      Then how do you explain the significant number of women who crave bareback and fetishize it even when they arent in a relationship? The desire for wanting a man to ejaculate inside you is a different, and more to the point, a SEPARATE urge from simply wanting sex. I can’t explain why it’s hot or what motivates women to engage in it, but we do.
      How many of you men have heard “I want to feel you cum inside me”? I bet almost all of you…..ever wonder why?

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