November 11, 2010

The Ingredients in Semen

Lessons No Comments

Ingredients

Last week, we examined why semen stings when it gets into the eye. Today we’re exploring the major components of semen:

Seminal Plasma (the liquidy part)

The main purpose of the seminal plasma is to provide a protective environment for the sperm during their long swim through the extremely hostile environment of a woman’s vagina. There’s gotta be a joke in there somewhere about harsh women, but it escapes me at the moment — possibly because I fear retribution from female readers. The plasma is made up of the following major ingredients:

Ions: Think salts and metals. Like sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, magnesium. Wow, a virtual One-A-Day vitamin in liquid form! All of these ions contribute to the “saltiness” or the (science nerd warning) osmolality. We covered this in the last piece, although semen is a bit saltier that other bodily fluids, it’s definitely not up there with a salt-lick. It’s salty enough to possible cause a little discomfort after prolonged exposure.

Sugars Sugars are also present in semen. Like salts, sugars can cause some slight discomfort when the eye is exposed to it for a while. Can I take this opportunity to try and convince you we taste like candy? Not buying it? That’s because, while there is plenty of sugar (like fructose and sorbitol) in semen, it’s not high enough to counter the taste of other ingredients in semen (darn). The sugar level in semen isn’t really that high, so it’s probably not going to cause any discomfort.

Minor ingredients: There are several minor ingredients in semen that are either too low in concentration or are generally not irritating: lipids (or fats), steroid hormones (OMG! Cum in the eye will make you hit more home-runs!), enzymes, prostaglandin hormones, amino acids and basic amines. I can’t see (ha!) any of these causing any major irritation. The sum of all of them might do a little bit of something, but definitely not the tazer to the eye feeling people complain about when they take a shot in the eye.

Protein Carriers and Mucus (glycoproteins)

Albumin (yeah, the same stuff in egg white which is pretty pure albumin) is present at a pretty high concentration in semen. This is reported to be irritating to eyes, but I’ve seen it in eye drops, so I’d just put this as a possible culprit. I’m looking for volunteers to splash raw egg white in their eyes to test this. When you recover from the salmonella, let me know if it hurt (the egg whites, not the salmonella).

As long as we’re talking slimy, there’s also a mucus made by small bulbourethral glands that gives semen that wonderful, jelly-like texture. Bonus points to anyone who can work bulbourethral into something sexy-sounding: “Baby, you make my bulbourethral glands throb!”… er, no.

Sperm

No explanation necessary. There are about 200-500 million sperm in your average ejaculation. Forget bragging about having a 10-inch penis, I wanna see your sperm count card! That’s the test of a true man! Sperm make up about 5 percent of the total semen amount. Looking back, we’re starting to pile on the proteins (enzymes, albumin, sperm). Proteins in general can be irritating. I’m starting to suspect the generally high protein amount is the possible culprit for the batter burn (more on this in a sec).

Buffering Agents

I mentioned in part one the likeness of semen to Alka-Seltzer, the normal pH of the eye is around neutral (pH 7.0 – 7.3). That’s a pretty good match for semen, so it shouldn’t cause any pain. Bausch and Lomb should tap into college guys for a cheap source of “buffer”. The chess clubs probably have the most… experience.

Summary:

Looking above, what I see as possible causes of the pain are salts and proteins mainly. Salt is easily washed away, so it should only cause discomfort until you can hit the faucet. Those of you who tested the Morton’s in part one of this series can probably attest to this.

Protein, however, is sticky stuff. Rinsing generally won’t remove it well. You might rinse out the buffers, salts, lipids, etc., but the protein will be still in there. Check contact lens rinses and see how they brag about their ability to remove irritating proteins from the lenses. I suspect this is what causes the pain to linger.

Part 1: Debunking Semen Myths
Part 3: The Different Kinds of Sperm

Image by Adam Coster.

Alex Tresor

A bonafide scientist type, doctor-person who’s way too educated for his own good.

More Posts

Facebook

Add our page on Google+!

Keep up with everything we're covering right in your stream. Please note this page is limited to users 18+.

Featured

Gamers Won’t Be Seduced, Will Stare At Random Cleav Instead

That Steam allows the objectification and sexualization of female characters in a variety of its games but refuses to accept a game about actually engaging with women in a more interactive fashion is astonishingly backward.

FetLife Is Not Safe for Users

That the site doesn’t take measures to protect user content and has shown incompetence or negligence in regard to user privacy, all the while prohibiting victims from warning others about predatory behavior creates an environment where it is nearly impossible for members of the community to take care of themselves and one another. By enabling FetLife to continue espousing a code of silence, allowing the spinning self-created security issues as “attacks,” and not pointing out how disingenuous FetLife statements about safety are, we are allowing our community to become a breeding ground for exploitation.

Why You Should Vote No On Prop 35

Should people who benefit (parents, siblings, children, roommates!) from the earnings of “commercial sex acts” (any sexual conduct connected to the giving or receiving of something of value) be charged with human trafficking? Should someone who creates obscene material that is deemed “deviant” be charged as with human trafficking? Should someone who profits from obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should people transporting obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should a person who engages in sex with someone claiming to be above the age of consent or furnishing a fake ID to this effect be charged with human trafficking? What if I told you the sentences for that kind of conviction were eight, 14 or 20 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $500,000, and life as a registered sex offender?

Pretty and Calls Herself a Geek? Attention Whore!

If you are a woman, you might be given a chance to prove yourself in this community. Since there is no standard definition of what a “geek” is and it will vary from one judge to the next anyway, chances of failing are high (cake and grief counseling will be available after the conclusion of the test!). If you somehow manage to succeed, you’ll be tested again and again by anyone who encounters you until you manage to establish yourself like, say, Felicia Day. But even then, you’ll be questioned. As a woman, your whole existence within the geek community will be nothing but a series of tests — if you’re lucky. If you aren’t lucky, you’ll be harassed and threatened and those within the culture will tacitly agree that you deserve it.

Cuddle Chemical? Moral Molecule? Not So Fast

Zak’s original field, it turns out, is economics, a far cry from the hearts and teddy bears we imagine when we consider his nickname. But after performing experiments on generosity, Zak stumbled on the importance of trust in interactions, which led him, rather inevitably, to research about oxytocin. Oxytocin, you might remember, is a hormone that has been linked previously to bonding — between mothers and children primarily, but also between partners. What Zak has done is take the research a step further, arguing in his recent book, The Moral Molecule, that oxytocin plays a role in determining whether we are good or evil.

How to Avoid Pissing off a Stripper

Let’s talk about the strippers. Whether they like to be half-naked or not, whether they enjoy turning you on or not, there’s one thing they all have in common: they’re working. Whether you think that taking one’s clothes off for money is a great choice of career is really beside the point (is it a possibility for you to make $500 per hour at your job without a law degree? Just asking). These women are providing fantasy, yes, but that is their job. And as a patron of the establishment where they work, you need to treat them like you would anyone else who provides a service to you.

Masthead

Send us news!

Editrix-in-Command:
AV Flox

In-House Theologian:
Robert Fischer

Eros and Desire Scholar:
Dawn Kaczmar

Scientific Consultant:
Jason Goldman

East Coast Liaison:
Jackie Summers

Arch-Nemesis:
Barbie Davenporte

Read about the contributors we've had over time on our staff page.

Follow SAT405 on:
Twitter
Facebook

RSS

Hosted by (mt)

About

Sex and the 405 is what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.

Here you’ll find news about the latest research being conducted to figure out what drives desire, passion, and other sex habits; reviews of sex toys, porn and other sexy things; coverage of the latest sex-related news that have our mainstream media's panties up in a bunch; human interest pieces about sex and desire; interviews with people who love sex, or hate sex, or work in sex, or work to enable you to have better sex; opinion pieces that relate to sex and society; and the sex-related side of celebrity gossip. More...