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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Ask SHIC: Subsistence on Semen?

The Sexual Health Information Center welcomes you back to campus for another exciting and sexy semester! The SHIC office has officially re-opened with new hours but the same group of knowledgeable and utterly relatable peer educators, ready to answer your questions and get you all the safe sex supplies you could possibly need. Our hours this semester are listed below, as are some questions we’ve received in the past. We hope our answers are helpful and encourage everyone to ask their own burning questions. Also, keep an eye out for a SHIC supply suggestion poster in JRC and for fun and educational posters, study breaks and events throughout the semester.


Office Hours

Main Hall, First Floor

Mon-Thu: 5-8 p.m.

Fri-Sun: 4-5:30 p.m.


Dear SHIC,

After a long, hard week of studies, I like to indulge in some adult beverages and hit up the weekend scene. I’ve heard rumors of a lot of things decreasing the effect of birth control, and am worried that my indulgence may affect the safety of my sex life. Can alcohol change the efficacy of my birth control?


Buzzes, Not Babies

Dear BNB,

We at SHIC have also heard a lot of false rumors around birth control. However, you are in clear (mostly)! Alcohol does not chemically affect the action of any birth control methods. The only chemicals that we know can decrease the efficacy of birth control are antibiotics (and maybe grapefruit juice to a very small degree—we haven’t confirmed that one yet). Where you should be careful, however, is in how alcohol affects your actions and memory. The biggest risk of drinking is that you will forget to take your birth control on time or forget to use birth control, if you are relying on a barrier method. Also, if you indulge too much and end up evacuating your stomach all over your friends’ dorm’s bathroom, this would render birth control taken orally within about two hours inactive. So, as always, practice moderation and safety when drinking, and keep in mind that alcohol interferes with one’s ability to consent to sex. Plan and/or discuss ahead of time appropriately and always keep your sex safe, consensual and fun.




Dear SHIC,

Can I eat my own semen to survive?

Maybe not sincerely,

Bared Grylls

Dear Bared,

To discuss this, rather unusual, scenario, we’re going to assume that you’re stranded on a desert island rather than just avoiding the D-Hall in your dorm room. We hope you’re okay with that. To begin, the average ejaculation yields approximately one tablespoon of semen. This volume is relatively constant regardless of how long it has been since you last ejaculated; the factor that changes is the amount of sperm in the semen. However, if you are struggling to survive and don’t have enough water handy, your ability to ejaculate is going to drop significantly, as water comprises about 96% of semen. While the common conception is that semen is protein-rich due to high levels of simple and protein-filled sperm, it turns out that sperm only account for less than 5% of the volume of semen. Thus, they add a negligible amount of nutrition. The minute volume left is made up of nutrients in the seminal fluid, including fructose, carnitine, glycerylphosphocholine, fibrinogen, ascorbic acid, prostaglandins, bicarbonate and phosphate buffers, fibrinolytic enzyme, citric acid, phosphate and mucus. Mmmm, mucus. Though many the chemicals in that list are essential for survival, there are also many crucial compounds you would be missing out on, with your strictly-semen diet. All of those chemicals would be coming from reserves you already had, so you wouldn’t really be gaining any anyway. Lastly, and most importantly, the average ejaculation only contains about–drumroll, please–5 calories. If you have looked at the D-Hall’s nutritional info, you know that is absolutely nothing. Also, though there is no general, reliable estimate for calories burned during masturbation (rate affected by your weight, fitness, intensity, duration, etc.), it is likely you would be burning more calories that you would be consuming. So, if I were you, I would avoid getting stranded on a desert island and trying to survive on your own semen. Or just go to the D-Hall, man.



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