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Sperm Can Act as Natural Superfood

Update Date: Sep 09, 2013 09:20 AM EDT

Certain females consume male ejaculate and sperm as if it is food, using nutrients to fuel their own bodies as well as eggs.

“Ejaculate consumption is well documented among numerous species. Human too are included in that group, but the behaviour is not standard part of our reproductive process,” Benjamin Wegener, a researcher at Monash University’s school of Biological sciences, said in a news release.

According to Columbia Health, human male ejaculate contains water, fructose sugar, Vitamin C, enzymes, zinc, protein, citric acid and more. The ingredients found are similar to that of a protein-infused sports drink.

“If males have their sperm consumed, rather than used for egg fertilization, they will lose that reproductive opportunity. Therefore, it is in the male’s best interests to try to ensure at least some of his sperm reaches the female’s eggs,” Benjamin Wegener later told Discovery News.

Sperm consumption, as opposed to just ejaculate swallowing, is far less common. Species that exhibit this include picture wing flies, carrion flies, a type of leech, a peculiar marine invertebrate known as Spadella cephalpptera, a southern bottle tail squid sepiadarium austrinum and a marine nudibranch.

The focus of this study by Wegener and his team was laid on the behaviour and tracking of how the nutrients were utilised after the consumption. It is the first time that the phenomenon has been observed in a female with external fertilisation.

“This is an important distinction as even if the female consumes some of the ejaculate in those internal fertilizers, at least some of the sperm remains inside in the reproductive tract,” Wegener later added.

The study is published in the journal Biology Letters.

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