Semen Retention Myth: Nutritional Value

by Cam Fraser // March 2 // 0 Comments

In his 1986 book, The Tao of Sexology, Dr. Stephen T. Chang writes about the nutritional value of one tablespoon of semen:

This is a claim that semen retention adherents will often reference. Immediately, I had my doubts about this claim. But I’ve seen and heard this exact paragraph quoted in forums and on podcasts so its worth debunking.

Firstly, according to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, on average, men expel between 1.25 and 5.00 ml of semen each time they ejaculate, which is about one teaspoon, not one tablespoon like Dr. Chang states, which would be 15 ml.

Secondly, Dr. Chang writes that the nutritional value of semen he has listed is “according to scientific research” however he does not cite any sources. Let’s reference some studies as we fact check this claim, starting with protein.

The average total protein concentration of semen is 5040 mg per 100 ml (Owen & Katz, 2013), which means that a single 5 ml ejaculation would have about 252 mg of protein.

We don’t need to do too much work here because, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one large egg contains 6.3 grams of protein.

Needless to say that 10 eggs plus 2 steaks has much, much more protein than a single ejaculation, almost 640 times more considering the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that a steak has 49.4 grams of protein.

But what about vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid?

In one study, the median level of ascorbic acid in patients with normal semen parameters was 7.7 mg/dl (Song, Norkus, & Lewis, 2006). An earlier study found seminal ascorbic acid levels in healthy sperm donors was 10.7 mg/dl (Thiele et al., 1995).

Using the larger quantity, this means that one 5 ml ejaculation would contain approximately 0.535 mg of vitamin C. Again, not a lot of work is needed because, According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one orange contains 82.7 mg of vitamin C.

You’re probably noticing a pattern here...

I won’t look at minerals, like zinc, because I already debunked this in a previous post about dodgy claims related to semen retention.

And not to poison the well too much, but Dr. Stephen T. Chang’s accolades seemed a little suspicious to me, so I decided to try and fact check them while I was at it.

Full disclosure, this next section involved heavy use of Google translate as I do not speak Mandarin nor can I read Chinese characters. I present the following information in good faith and am happy to be corrected.

As I understand it, Stephen T. Chang is the ‘westernised’ version of his name that he chose to adapt from his original Chinese name, 张绪通, which reads as Zhāng Xùtōng.

One of the accolades that is listed as part of Zhāng Xùtōng’s biographies across the internet is that he was connected to the Reagan presidency.

I thought that this would be pretty easy to fact check as meticulous records are typically kept regarding U.S. presidents. For example, records from the Reagan presidency are preserved via the The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

So, I contacted their archivists and asked if they had any records of a Zhāng Xùtōng or a Stephen T. Chang and they were unable to find anything.

I do not mean to cast aspersions on a man who has written a plethora of books and is obviously respected in Taoist communities.

What I want to highlight is the way in which authoritative claims about sexual and reproductive health are taken at face value by many people who subscribe to semen retention philosophies and practices.

There is nothing wrong with questioning or challenging the claims made by Taoist masters, especially when these claims were made during a time when we didn’t know as much about seminal fluid as we do today .

Cam Fraser is a Certified Professional Sex Coach and Certified Sexologist. Being a former Tantric Yoga Teacher, his work integrates scientifically validated, medically accurate information about sexual health, with sacred sexuality teachings from the mystery traditions. As a coach, he helps men go beyond surface-level sex and into full-bodied, self-expressed, pleasure-oriented sexual experiences free of anxiety or shame.

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