Spit or Swallow? A Sex Educator’s Answer

Anonymous asks,

Should you swallow after giving head?


Do you want to, whether because you enjoy it or because it turns you on to give your partner pleasure? If so, then go for it. If not—which I’m guessing might be the case behind this question—then consider this your permission slip not to. 

I often say “fuck the shoulds” and that applies here. Whether or not you “should” do something in bed is less important than other questions like, “Do you enjoy it?” Of course, none of these answers are absolute—what you like and dislike is as impacted by your innate turn-ons and turn offs as it is by the context in which you’re having sex

Of course, your personal preference isn’t the only thing to consider in the spit versus swallow debate. There are also health risks and benefits, as well as your partner’s preferences and even their taste and smell to consider. Read on for everything you need to know about these parts of the spit versus swallow debate.

Health Risks and Benefits of Swallowing Sperm

Like any form of unprotected sex, giving head and swallowing can put you at risk for an STI. In the case of oral sex, that means chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HPV, HIV, and trichomoniasis. Best practices for oral sex include using a barrier method like a condom or dental dam. From this perspective, you may want to consider how well you know the person and whether or not you’ve had a chance to discuss your STI history, including when you were last tested.

As for health benefits, the research is mixed here. There are a lot of claims out there but the research doesn’t hold up—or even exist—for many of them. For example, while sperm contains nutrients, they aren’t in high enough concentrations to make a serious difference. Plus, the exact makeup of sperm varies depending on the penis haver’s diet. Similarly, while sperm contains anti-inflammatory properties, there’s no conclusive evidence that will impact your body if you swallow. Of the health claims, the strongest research relates to swallowing sperm reducing breast cancer risk. To summarize: the benefits aren’t well researched or established to make an argument for “should.”

What if they want me to?

Again, that’s ultimately your call. Some people are turned on by whatever turns their partner on. Consider whether swallowing is a hard no for you or something you’re willing to do in certain circumstances. 

What about the taste and smell?

Taste and smell are two common reasons folx say they prefer not to swallow. The semi-good news is that there may be something the penis haver can do about it. Just like what you eat can impact the way your sweat smells, it’s thought that what one eats can also impact the way one’s sperm tastes. Want to try it out for yourself? Here are some foods to try and avoid.

Foods that might make sperm taste better Foods that might make sperm taste worse
  • celery
  • parsley
  • wheatgrass
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • pineapple
  • papaya
  • oranges
  • garlic
  • onions
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • leafy greens
  • asparagus
  • meat and dairy products
  • alcohol
  • cigarettes
  • coffee

Consider doing neither

Neither is also an answer here! You and your partner can develop a sign when they’re about to experience orgasm so that they don’t cum in your mouth at all. This works best with someone who has relatively good come control. And, a non-verbal cue like a head tap is typically best. From there they can come on your body, the bed, floor, their hand, etc. 

Not sure how to broach the topic?

Whether you’ve been swallowing and not wanting to or you’re curious but nervous, it’s always a good idea to talk to your partner rather than surprising them with changes mid-sexy times.

Your desires may change

Within this conversation, it’s important to remember that what turns you on, helps you experience orgasm, and turns you off are likely to change many times throughout your life.  

So—should you swallow?

Ultimately, that’s a question only you can answer by leaning into your truth for right now. 

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One Comment

  • Hey Kait Scalisi
    i am good to meet you at bloodandmilk
    Thanks for the post and I found it very informative.

    I recently infected with Hiv and don’t know how i infected with but when i read your article. i understood that, i was infected through sex. now, i am on treatment and happy now
    Thanks for sharing.


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