Does sperm have a smell? What does sperm smell like? In this short article, we’ll clear up the difference between sperm and semen, go over what the typical smell of semen is, and discuss what to do if your semen is smelling strange.
What Does Sperm Smell Like?
First, a clarification: sperm and semen are not the same thing. Sperm are microscopically tiny little tailed swimmers that contain genetic material. They are emitted from the penis when a man ejaculates. When a sperm meets and fertilizes an egg, and that egg successfully implants in the wall of a uterus, pregnancy happens.
But men don’t only shoot sperm when they ejaculate. Sperm actually travels in a fluid called semen. Semen is made up primarily of water, proteins, and sugars to nourish the sperm and help it swim up the vaginal canal. However, sperm actually only makes up about 5% of the total volume of semen at maximum.
So what does sperm smell like? Not much that you can detect. If you’re wondering “why does sperm smell bad?” then it’s important to note that you’re smelling semen, not sperm. When people ask about the smell of sperm, they are usually actually wondering about the smell of semen, or more colloquially, cum. What does cum smell like? Keep reading.
What Does Semen Smell Like?
While there’s some normal variation in the smell of semen from person to person, most people describe semen as having a faintly bleach-like smell. Some people also describe this as an ammonia or swimming-pool/chlorine-type smell. This is because semen contains ammonia and other alkaloids, which is what lends it that cleaning-products smell.
Another common descriptor for the smell of semen is pancake batter. This could be because semen has some sugars in it, but isn’t overwhelmingly sweet. (People in the linked Reddit thread also report detecting the smell of raw egg whites, mushrooms, and heavy cream.)
In general, people don’t find the smell of semen particularly pleasant. But it shouldn’t be incredibly disgusting, either.
Semen may have a stronger smell if you are dehydrated, because you’ll have less water in your semen so it will be less dilute. Thus, the compounds that give semen its odor will be more pronounced. So if you want milder-smelling semen, you could try drinking more water.
Older semen might also have a stronger smell than normal. This can be avoided by maintaining regular ejaculation (at least twice a week).
However, if semen is particularly foul-smelling (or tasting), it could indicate an STD or other infection. See a doctor if you (or your partner) notice this.
Can You Change the Way Semen Smells?
There are a lot of anecdotal reports that eating certain foods can change the way your semen smells or tastes. While there has not been a whole lot of robust research on this topic, here are some slightly different semen smell profiles you might achieve through dietary or lifestyle changes:
Bitter Semen Smell
The following things may cause semen to smell or taste more bitter or acidic:
- Drinking alcohol
- High caffeine consumption
- Red meat consumption
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Garlic and onions
Sweet Semen Smell
The following things may cause semen to smell or taste sweeter or more mild:
- Eating fruit or drinking fruit juice
- A vegetarian diet
- Consuming mint
- Pleasant-smelling spices like cinnamon and nutmeg
- High-chlorophyll vegetables like celery or parsley
Some sex experts posit that eating a generally healthy diet will lead to milder-smelling semen, while an unhealthy diet will cause more pungent semen.
However, you shouldn’t expect any hugely drastic changes to the taste or smell of your semen to result from lifestyle or diet adjustments. It’s fundamentally going to contain most of the same compounds.
The Smell of Sperm: The Bottom Line
What does sperm smell like? Not much! When people wonder about the smell of sperm, they are usually actually wondering about the smell of semen.
Most people report that semen smells like some kind of cleaning product. This is normal, if a bit unpleasant. If your semen smells particularly foul, that could be a sign of infection.
There are some anecdotal reports of people changing the smell of their semen by eating or avoiding different foods and substances. You can experiment with this if you like, but don’t expect a total transformation in the way your semen smells.
If you’re curious about whether a 6.5-inch penis is big, small, or average, read our guide.
Worried about STDs? We can advise you on herpes, bleeding during sex, white vaginal discharge, and brown vaginal discharge and help you figure out if you or your partner has an STD. However, you don’t need to worry about blue waffles disease!