Bitter semen phenomenon (TMI)

For the last few years, My Guy has mentioned that my semen has a bitter taste. Since I take several medications, we figure that it might be a side effect from one or more of my meds (I take the same meds every day). We have sex at least once a day, except when one of us has to be out of town. He recently realized that when we skip a day, it’s not as bitter, and when we skip two days it’s only slightly bitter. So to test our hypothesis we skipped three days, and sure enough, it wasn’t bitter at all.

We’re really not sure whether this has to do with the meds, since I can’t go without my meds for the sake of scientific research. But it seems that “fresh” semen has a more bitter taste than semen that’s been sitting in the waiting room.

Can anyone explain this?

Nothing to add, I just wanted to say that

had me giggling like a little girl.

All this is based on a very faded memory of something I read about five years ago on one of those “FAQ and Not-Very-F AQ About Sex” websites, and I am damn well not going to Google for it, especially considering the content.

Remember that the contents of ejaculate are a mixture of materials suitable for keeping a bunch of adventuresome sperm cells alive in out-of-body space temporarily while they make an Extra-Genital Activity. Parts are contributed by Cowper’s glands, prostate, and testes. If I understand this correctly, the Cowper’s gland fluid is relatively clear, of fairly low viscosity, functioning as lubrication (“pre-cum”) and then as the “base” for the mixture. The prostate secretion is a bit thicker, more viscous, and somewhat milky. And the testicular secretion contains the sperm and simply enough fluid to move them to the seminal vesicles where the seminal fluid is compiled from its sources.

The significance here is that the Cowper’s gland fluid was said to be almost tasteless, the prostate-derived fluid somewhat sweet, and the testicular fluid (“sperm” although it also had liquid present) was quite bitter. Hence the taste of ejaculate varies based on the relative proportions of the main ingredients. The testes produce on more or less a fixed production level (variable over long periods of time or with appropriate medication, of course, but not ramped up and down on a demand/supply basis). The other two glands produce essentially as called for.

When a man has a low sperm count, and he and his wife are attempting to start a child, he is often encouraged to abstain from ejaculation for a day or two before the “baby shot” (so to speak) to build up the proportion of sperm in the ejaculate.

Now, I am not betting the farm on the accuracy of my memory about this. But it would make sense that abstaining from sex for a day or two would serve to increase your sperm count, and therefore the bitterness of your semen, while daily or more-often sex would result in a lower proportion of testicular fluid in the ejaculate and a sweeter taste. Similarly, stimulation of the prostate would increase its secretions, with a similar effect.

I’d ask one of the M.D.'s, or a reproductive medicine expert if there is a Doper who is one, to vet the above, as I don’t want to emulate Handy in giving out false information, and the above is admittedly undocumented and based on memory of something read years before the time of posting. I’m offering it because I found it intriguing enough that it stuck in my memory, and if accurate would explain your question.

But I’m experiencing the opposite effect. The longer I abstain, the less bitter it tastes, implying a lower sperm count (or a higher level of the other fluids?).

Something else that might possibly be relevent: my “cum” has always been very viscous. When I was younger it was almost like paste (and did not taste bitter); now that I’m 60 it’s of more normal viscosity.

You don’t smoke, do you?

(Only when his mouth is dry.)

No, I don’t smoke.

Ba-dum. Tsssshhh!

According to Polycarp’s explanation above, if the bitter taste comes from the sperm component, then those of us with vasectomies should have sweet-tasting cum. Yet my wife comments that the taste and consistency of my ejaculate has changed very little since I got the old snipperoo.

Unless your testicular secretion was kind of low to begin with, or your prostate secretion relatively high. If that’s the case, your pre-vasectomy cum never was very bitter, and of course it isn’t now.

In my case, if **Poly **is correct, then my prostate secretions are accumulating during abstinence, and/or my testicular secretions are decreasing. Come to think of it, I had a former acquaintance who had a slightly enlarged prostate, and he said that the only times he had difficulty urinating was when he hadn’t had sex in a while. Which seems to imply that the prostate secretions were accumulating during abstinence, adding to the enlargement. If that’s happening with me, that might explain the taste difference.