When you think of pineapple, you probably picture a piña colada on a warm, tropical beach, or a colorful fruit salad on a checkered picnic blanket. The idea that eating pineapple and other sweet foods can actually change the taste of someone's semen probably isn't top of mind. Unfortunately, there are countless sexual health myths about how the human body works. And unless you have expert-level knowledge of medical science, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. Details about the taste of semen rarely get discussed in high school health classes, so you're probably left wondering whether or not this claim is legit.
According to Dr. Jamil Abdur-Rahman, board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, there’s some truth to the idea that food can affect the way a person's semen tastes. “The reality is that people, both male and female, can change the way that many of their bodily fluids taste simply by changing the things that they put into their bodies,” Abdur-Rahman tells Elite Daily. When you eat something, it passes through your digestive tract and into your small intestine, where the water and nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. Then, the contents of your blood can filter into the other bodily fluids you produce.
Semen is created by a trio of glands found in the pelvis: the seminal vesicles, the prostate, and the bulbourethral glands. Together, they “filter the blood to create the liquid components of semen,” Dr. Abdur-Rahman says. He references the old idea that what goes in must eventually come back out. “Most times what we put into our body — and therefore into our blood — will come out of our body by way of our bodily fluids.” So, one way for someone to change the taste of their semen is by altering the foods they consume.
Certain foods and liquids can affect the taste of bodily fluids more than others. “Coffee, onions, garlic, alcohol, and cigarettes all contain chemicals that are pungent and water soluble,” Dr. Abdur-Rahman explains. “Because the blood is majority water, when the pungent water-soluble chemicals found in coffee, onions, garlic, alcohol, and cigarettes are consumed, they settle right into the blood.” Then, when that blood is filtered through the pelvic glands, those chemicals can enter the semen. Since things like coffee and garlic can have a strong bitter taste, consuming them in large quantities could make the semen taste more bitter.
Sugary foods can have the opposite effect, making semen taste sweeter. “Sugars are water soluble, and so when they enter the bloodstream, they are filtered through the semen-producing pelvic glands,” Dr. Abdur-Rahman explains. “Fruits are a great source of these water soluble natural sugars.” He notes that consuming lots of water can counteract the strong chemicals in food by diluting them. “When water rich foods and drinks are consumed, they dilute the blood,” he says. “Once the blood has been diluted, the semen produced by filtering this diluted blood will also be diluted. This means that the natural, slightly bitter, and salty taste that semen normally has will be less pronounced.”
That said, there’s a reason why semen tastes salty and bitter. Dr. Abdur-Rahman tells Elite Daily that semen is an alkaline substance, whereas the vagina is naturally acidic. “Semen tends to be alkaline to provide a protective shield for the sperm cells that it houses,” he explains. When a person with a penis has sex with someone with a vagina, these two different pH levels counteract one another. “The vagina, being an acidic organ, is designed in many ways to kill sperm cells well before they can make their way into the uterus to fertilize an egg,” Dr. Abdur-Rahman says. “But, with the sperm cells being surrounded by alkaline seminal fluid, they are protected from [the] vagina's sperm-cell-killing acidity.” This can facilitate the fertilization process that produces a pregnancy.
While it’s possible to alter the taste of semen using food, remember that bodily fluids aren’t meant to taste like your favorite dessert. They naturally have different pH levels, and that doesn’t make them “gross” or unclean. “I would tell anyone who feels self-conscious about the bitter and salty way that semen normally tastes that first, it is meant to taste that way,” Dr. Abdur-Rahman assures. “So this is normal.” Second, he says, semen tastes the way it does because of its role in reproduction. There’s no shame in having a body that tastes like, well, a body — it's just doing what it's supposed to do.
If you’re having oral sex with someone and the taste of their semen really bothers you, it’s OK to bring it up gently. “Bringing up the taste of a partner’s semen doesn't need to be awkward or uncomfortable,” Dr. Abdur-Rahman notes. He explains that your partner might even find it “surprisingly empowering” to learn there are ways to alter the way their semen tastes. But be sure to speak with kindness, and remember that the taste of your partner's semen is normal, even if it's not the most pleasant. They should never feel forced to make dietary changes to make themselves seem more desirable to you.
Ultimately, whether or not someone changes their diet to alter the taste of their bodily fluids shouldn’t compromise your relationship with them. It’s their body and their decision, and only they can make that choice. But when it comes to health, knowledge is power, so it’s useful to understand what'd really going down downtown.
Dr. Jamil Abdur-Rahman, OB/GYN
Your Digestive System & How it Works. (2017, December 1). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestive-system-how-it-works.
Male Reproductive System Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9117-male-reproductive-system.