This morning, I rather cruelly asked my teammates: "What does semen taste like to you?" And despite the groans from people who were close to vomiting, I got some pretty honest/hideous/eye-opening answers.
Their responses ranged from: "Like accidentally swallowing sea water," and, "Salty. Gloopy. Warm," to, "certainly not my protein of choice," and "sour." "My boyfriend's cum occasionally tastes a bit coffee-y which is not a bad thing, but certainly wouldn't chug it down every morning though," someone emailed me. Because I am an ethical journalist, I won't reveal the names of my sources.
Despite being desperate to know everything about their sex lives, my question did have a *professional* purpose: to figure out what healthy semen should tastes like. And to work out whether eating certain foods (you've all heard the pineapple "myth," right?) can make it more delicious. Here's what the experts say.
So, what does healthy semen taste like?
Dr. Shirin Larkhani, a general practitioner explains that although semen taste can vary hugely from one person to another, there are certain...common taste that indicate semen is healthy.
"Several fluids combine with sperm to make semen, each influence the way it tastes," she says. "The sperm pass through the vas deferens and into the ampulla—where an antioxidant that develops in mushrooms is produced. This may give semen a slightly mushroomy taste.
"The ampulla also adds fructose which may create a sweeter taste. When someone ejaculates more bodily fluids are added from the prostate gland and seminal vesicles, which can again alter the taste and smell. It has a bleach like smell due to the alkaline content."
She also says healthy semen is "usually cloudy white or grey fluid which is thicker than water, and almost jelly-like," but that it can be a little yellow, too.
Can eating different foods make semen taste better?
You've probably heard the rumor that pineapple can make someone's semen taste nicer. So is there any truth in it? "Although there is no conclusive scientific evidence to prove this, it stands to reason that foods with a strong taste or smell will, in turn, affect the taste and smell of semen," Dr. Larkhani says.
"'Strong-tasting vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, garlic, and caffeine may make semen taste or smell unpleasant. Whereas pineapple, oranges, and other sweet fruits may make it taste sweeter. This is largely due to how the enzymes in the food break down and affect proteins, thus impacting on the smell and is highly subjective though, just as our tastes vary with food it's logical that our tastes in semen does, too."
General practitioner Dr. Diana Gall agrees, saying semen can have a bitter taste because it is an alkaline—and that this is why eating acidic foods like food could change the taste. "Although, you'd need to consume a lot of these foods to notice a change in the taste," she adds.
"Being hydrated or dehydrated also has an effect on the taste of your semen, the more hydrated you are the milder the taste will be. Healthier diets are more likely to produce better tasting semen that’s less bitter."
What to do if the semen you're face-to-face with smells or tastes a bit... funky
"Our bodies are usually a great judge of smells and tastes that aren't right, for example we can smell when meat has gone off or when something is rotten in the fridge," she explains. "Likewise, if semen smells rotten, foul or fishy then something isn't right. It could be that there is an infection so it's a good idea to seek medical advice."
The above smells could be the sign of an infection or STI, Dr. Larkhani explains. It could even be a bacterial infection—and this is more likely if the semen owner is also noticing discharge or itching. If you're concerned, seek medical advice.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.