Column: Spit or swallow?

It’s always nice to be polite.

When you meet someone, you shake hands. When you need a favor, you make sure you include a “pretty please.” And when someone offers you something you know is not a cigarette, if you’re not down to party, you simply pass it on to someone who is.

But the ultimate etiquette conundrum, my little honeybees, lies in an age-old question that has blown (haha!) the minds of many: Spit or swallow?

Recently, I received an e-mail from a very perturbed young man who had some concerns with post-fellatio protocol. Being the helpful and caring person I can’t help but be, I felt it was my duty to use his cry for help as this month’s “Dear Mario” submission. It reads:

Dear Mario,

I’ve been with my first boyfriend for about four months now. We’ve recently become sexually active and I’m not sure whether or not it’s okay to swallow [his semen] after oral sex. I don’t know if I’m okay with it, but is it rude to spit it out? Will it hurt his feelings? Or if I buck up and swallow, will it harm me in any way?

BJ Newbie

First of all, ask yourself if you like chocolate or vanilla, BJ. A man’s semen is just like that, a mere matter of preference: Some people really like ingesting semen, while others would rather not. That said, there’s nothing wrong with quietly spitting the ejaculate into a Kleenex, as if it were an old piece of gum or something. If you don’t want that in your cup of tea, your boyfriend should understand. And offer you a pearl necklace instead.

If you’d rather dodge the “love shot,” you might want to take what you’re wearing into consideration: Semen is notorious for leaving behind stains, so be careful with where it lands. (Fun fact: The British Secret Intelligence Service found that it actually made good invisible ink for top-secret messages. I can’t help but chuckle at the new twist it puts on “The British are coming!”)

If you’re feeling brave and end up giving it a try, however, semen isn’t bad for you: There are no health risks associated with swallowing it if the man is healthy and STD-free. In fact, though mostly water, studies show a healthy male’s ejaculate also contains proteins, minerals, sugars and other nutrients. A guy’s semen even has fewer germs in it than his saliva does! Feel like giving it a try now that you know you’ve had worse in your mouth?

Don’t get me wrong, though – just because a man is healthy doesn’t mean I recommend you instantly shout “bottoms up!” and open wide for him. His taste must be considered.

No, I’m not talking about his taste in music or fashion. I’m talking about the actual flavor of his semen – how he … you know, really tastes.

Generally, the foods a guy eats can affect the taste of his semen. Stuff like coffee, alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana can cause a bitter taste, while fruits like apples and pineapples are said to produce a more pleasant, less harsh tang. (I broke out my old Human Sexuality textbook just to confirm that for you all. I care about giving you accurate information on the important things in life. Anyway, back to semen …)

Even though I might be getting you excited and ready to try something new, fun doesn’t come without its risks. Even without the question of spitting or swallowing, the act of oral sex itself is risky enough. It is definitely possible to contract sexual infections orally and there is even a possible risk of HIV infection if the virus comes into contact with bleeding gums or an open wound or sore in the mouth. So it won’t matter if you decide to spit the cum out or guzzle it down.

What a lot of people our age may not realize is that pre-ejaculatory fluid (pre-cum) can also transmit infections and HIV. (And ladies, you can get pregnant from pre-cum, too. Say no to the “pull out” theory. Say YES to condoms.)

If anything, BJ, remember this saying: “Swallow or spit … just don’t let it sit.” Infected semen has the potential to transmit infections or diseases upon instant contact. So whether you decide to feast on it or pass it up, one isn’t necessarily a safer practice than the other. Bottom line: Get rid of the semen fast and have fun figuring out how!

Remember, honeybees: Getting tested should be clockwork if you’re sexually active. The UC Davis Student Health & Wellness Center offers various STI testing upon request and free anonymous HIV testing is available throughout the academic year. Visit healthcenter.ucdavis.edu/services/sti-testing.html for more information on these services.

MARIO LUGO would really love a huge load … of your e-mails! Send your questions to mlugo@ucdavis.edu and maybe yours will be answered in next month’s “Dear Mario!”

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