University at Albany Study: Semen Eases Depression in Women

Contact: Heidi Weber (518) 437-4993

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 28, 2002) - Women who are directly exposed to semen are less depressed than those who are not, according to a recent study conducted by a researcher at the University at Albany.

The study, conducted by UAlbany Psychology Professor Gordon Gallup found that females who were not using condoms for sexual intercourse were less depressed than females who did use condoms, possibly because when absorbed through the vagina, semen may have an effect on mood in women.

Nearly 300 females filled out anonymous questionnaires designed to measure various aspects of their sexual behavior, including frequency of sexual intercourse, the number of days since their last sexual encounter and whether or not they used condoms. Each respondent was also asked to complete the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), a widely used measure of individual differences in depressive symptoms. According to Gallup, "females who engaged in sexual intercourse but never used condoms exhibited significantly lower scores on the BDI than those who usually or always used condoms."

Researchers explored other explanations for the varying BDI scores, such as frequency of intercourse, use of oral contraceptives and whether or not the female was in a relationship. The study indicates condom use accounted for more variance in depression than any of the other predictors.

While the study raises many questions, it shows that the consistency of condom use is directly related to the level of depressive symptoms among sexually active female college students.

"Regardless of the findings, this study does not advocate that people abstain from using condoms," said Professor Gallup. "Protecting oneself from an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease is far more important."
 

Established in 1844 and designated a center of the State University of New York in 1962, the University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in eight degree-granting schools and colleges. For more information about this nationally ranked University, visit http://www.albany.edu.

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