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A Surprising Antidepressant

Semen makes you happy, according to a report comparing women who have sex using condoms with those who have unprotected sex. The study shows that the women who were directly exposed to semen, because a condom wasn't used, were less depressed, and the researchers think this is because there are mood-altering hormones in semen that are absorbed through the vagina. "I want to make it clear that we are not advocating that people abstain from using condoms," says Gordon Gallup, a psychologist at the State University of New York. "Clearly an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease would more than offset any advantageous psychological effects of semen."

Gallup divided 293 female students into groups according to how often they had sex using condoms, and measured their happiness using the Beck Depression Inventory, a standard questionnaire for assessing mood. People who score over 17 are considered moderately depressed.

His team found that women who never used condoms scored 8 on average, those who sometimes used them scored 10.5, those who usually used them scored 15 and those who always used them scored 11.3. Women who weren't having sex at all scored 13.5, which is higher than those who always had protected sex.

And the longer the interval since they last had sex, the more depressed the women who never or sometimes used condoms became. But the length of time since their last sexual encounter made no difference to the moods of women who usually or always used condoms. The team also found that suicide attempts were more common among women who used condoms regularly compared with those who didn't.

The researchers found all this hard to believe, so they looked for alternative explanations. They thought that maybe women who rarely used condoms took oral contraceptives instead, since these can affect women's moods, but this didn't turn out to be true. They thought maybe the results were related to how often women had sex or the strength of their relationships. They thought it was possible that certain personality types were more likely to use condoms than others. But none of these factors could explain the outcome of the study.

Actually, it's known that semen contains several mood-altering hormones, including testosterone, estrogen, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinising hormone, prolactin and several different prostaglandins.

But why should semen have a mood-elevating effect? "It makes no sense to me for this phenomenon to have evolved," says Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

He should have asked some women instead of trying to figure it out for himself. It's advantageous for the male if a woman feels happy, despite the fact that her lover is gathering up his clothes and creeping home instead of staying for breakfast. And gals need to ward off depression in case they pay the ultimate price and have to get up regularly for 4 am baby feedings nine months later.

Maybe if she's lucky, she'll have an Indigo child. Read all about them in "The Indigo Children" and "An Indigo Celebration" by Jan Tober and Lee Carroll, click here.

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