There are certainly plenty of rumours around growing a beard. One of the biggest rumours is that sperm – and semen – can make your beard grow. It seems like a natural and common sense understanding that semen would contain manly chemicals and components for boosting beard growth. However, there is very little evidence in the scientific literature to support this urban myth.
There is very limited evidence that spermidine (a component of semen) can help elongate hairs when applied to hair follicle cells and when consumed orally. However, the amount of spermidine in semen is very low, and there are better sources in common food groups.
Semen is an organic fluid that is secreted by the sexual glands and other sexual organs of males. It contains sperm, the male reproductive cell responsible for fertilising female egg cells and creating a baby.
Human semen contains several components and elements to promote the survival of the sperm. It contains enzymes, fructose and water, allowing the sperm to swim whilst providing energy.
The composition of sperm is complicated since the semen is made up of components from four glands. Each of these contributes a different amount of material to the sperm and semen.
What is in Semen?
During ejaculation, sperm passes through the ejaculatory darks and mixes with fluids from the prostate, seminal vesicles and bulbourethral glands to form the semen. Each is responsible for a different part of the semen.
- The seminal vesicles produce a yellow hue viscous fluid rich in fructose and other substances that make up most human semen – about 70%.
- The prostate produces a thin whitish fluid containing enzymes, citric acid, and fats.
- The bulbourethral glands secrete a clear secretion into the urethra to lubricate it.
Each of these materials has got the potential to impact beard growth in a positive or negative light. Let’s take a look in more detail at some of the materials in the semen and the potential effect on beard growth.
Sperm has a pH of 7.35 – 7.5, which makes it pretty much a neutral pH. This pH means that applying it to hair is unlikely to cause any damage to the beard hair through acidic or basic corrosion.
The reason semen started to become a popular, topical treatment for beard growth and other health benefits such as acne, skincare, facial products was because of a molecule called spermidine.
Spermidine is a polyamine compound that was originally isolated from semen. Although it has been isolated initially from sperm, it is found in various food sources such as aged cheese, mushrooms, soy products, legumes, corn, and whole grains.
Topical treatment of spermidine
A study published in 2011 looked at the application of spermidine for promoting human hair growth.
Because rapidly regenerating tissues need a lot of poly a mean synthesis, they hypothesised that polyamines might be important for normal hair growth since the hair follicle never sleeps in its growth phase and is constantly pumping out hair.
The researchers looked at the effects of applying spermidine to human scalp hair follicles and human hair follicle stem cells. It was found that under the study conditions, the spermidine promoted hair shaft elongation and kept the hair in the growth phase (anagen phase) for longer.
This study is only one study, and much more needs to be done before we can completely be sure that spermidine is an important part of hair growth and that application to beards will promote growth.
We still do not have any evidence that topical application of spermidine to beards can promote growth.
Spermidine in your diet
Another study published in 2017 evaluated the effects of spermidine nutritional supplements on the growth phase of hair follicles. Previously, spermidine was shown in mice models to prolong the growth stage of hair follicles. This study took it one step further by using human subjects in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
The researchers used 100 healthy males and females, and they were randomised to receive a tablet containing a spermidine base nutritional supplement or a placebo once a day for 90 days. At the beginning and the end of the treatment, one hundred hair follicles were plucked and looked at using a microscope to determine the number of hair follicles in the growth phase.
It was found that the spermidine based nutritional supplement increased the number of hair follicles in the growth phase after three months of treatment. All of the results were also significantly better when compared to the placebo group.
They did not specifically look at the effect of spermidine in beard growth, but the effect is likely to be similar for beard hairs that have been stimulated to grow with DHT.
It is unlikely that spermidine will promote the evolution of beard hairs from vellus hairs to terminal hairs because the compound is very different to any hormones that could stimulate the androgen receptors at the base of the hair follicles.
The spermidine content in human semen varies between 15 and 50 mcg/L. You can get much more spermidine into your diet by eating wheat germ (providing 243 mg per kilogram), dried soybean (providing 207 mg per kilogram), cheddar (providing 199 mg per kilogram) and mushrooms (providing 89 mg per kilogram).
You can see that if you wanted more spermidine in your diet, you’d be much better off eating these tasty foods rather than consuming many litres of seminal plasma.
Testes and seminal vesicles
Besides spermidine, there are plenty of other components in semen that may play a role in contributing to beard growth.
Below, I have taken all of the major constituents of semen and looked at the prevalence of any literature on its effect on hair growth, testosterone, or DHT.
|Sperm||sperm are cells that die after a few hours of being ejaculated and placed on the skin or beard hair. Sperm provides no benefit to beard growth.|
|Amino acids||Beard hair is primarily made of a protein called keratin which is formed from 16 amino acids. There is no evidence suggesting that applying amino acids to hair creates stronger hair or promotes growth.|
|Citrate||Citrate is a salt of citric acid. There is no evidence to support the topical application of citrate to a beard for hair growth|
|Flavins||Flavins are the common name for a group of organic compounds based on pteridine. There is no evidence to suggest that they can help with beard growth.|
|Fructose||Fructose is a sugar that is found in semen to provide energy to the movement of sperm. There is no evidence to suggest that topical fructose application can promote hair growth. There is some anecdotal evidence that fructose can inhibit hair growth when consumed in high quantities. Not enough in sperm to worry about.|
|Phosphorylcholine||This chemical is the hydrophilic polar head group of some phospholipids. It is the part of the platelet-activating factor involved in changes in vascular permittivity produced in various cells. There is no evidence that it has any effect on beard or hair growth.|
|Prostaglandins||Prostaglandins have a hormone-like effect in animals and are found in almost every tissue in humans. There is no evidence that they support beard growth in any way.|
|Vitamin C||Vitamin C assists in the production of sebum on the face. However, you have to consume a lot of it, and it is unlikely the amount in sperm has any effect when applied topically.|
In all of the seminal fluid constituents, there is no evidence that any of the components can affect beard growth in any way. Some of the components have been known to with testosterone production and sebum production, but there are far better sources for your beard growing journey than semen and sperm.
|Acid phosphatase||This molecule is an enzyme and has no effect on beard growth.|
|Citric acid||Citric acid can help the stimulation of hair growth by helping the hair follicles remain healthy. It can be used to help improve absorption of some elements into the hair fibre but is found in very low concentrations in semen.|
|Fibrinolysin||This molecule is an enzyme which is extracted from certain bacteria. It can result in hypersensitivity in some people.|
|Prostate specific antigen||PSA is used to liquefy the semen and allows the sperm to swim freely. It is also believed to be instrumental in dissolving the cervical mucus which allows the entry of the sperm into the female uterus. Elevation of this molecule can indicate the presence of prostate cancer. It has no effect on beard growth.|
|Proteolytic enzymes||Interestingly, these molecules form part of laundry detergents and can be used in the bread industry as a bread improver. There is no evidence that they can provide any benefit to growing a beard.|
|Zinc||In one study, zinc and vitamin B supplements increased sperm quality by 74%. Zinc also boosts testosterone in athletes and those who are deficient in zinc. That means if you are exercising a lot, you may want to consider taking zinc to help make sure you are not deficient. There is no evidence that the quantity available in sperm has any effect on beard growth.|
What parts are (potentially) good for beard growth?
We can see from the above table that there are some potentially beneficial components of sperm and semen. The problem is that they are available in very low quantities, which means that there are much better sources of beneficial molecules such as vitamin C and zinc from foodstuffs.
There is very limited evidence of spermidine being a beneficial molecule for beards and hair growth. It seems to keep hairs in the growth phase for much longer but, there is not much available in semen, and you’d be much better off consuming a lot of healthy legumes and mushrooms and aged cheese to get the required amount into your system.
Given the limited benefit of using semen on your beard, there would have to be some pretty crazy effects for it to be worth the hassle. However, there are some real dangers about putting semen on your beard or consuming huge quantities of it.
Dangers of putting semen on your beard
Even though semen is a naturally produced material, some issues may arise if you put it in your beard or consume too much of it.
The first is disease transmission. Semen can transmit infections by passing through mucus membranes found in the lips, nostrils, and eyes.
If you get it into your eye, you are also potentially at risk of ocular herpes, which can cause inflammation and even vision loss.
Chlamydia conjunctivitis is also a real issue. It is less severe, but it has a burning sensation and redness and discharges from the eye.
Can Sperm Make Your Beard Grow? Summary
In this article, we have been through everything you need to know about semen and beard growth. Despite what some blogs and YouTubers may say, there is no evidence to support the assertion that semen can help beard growth or even condition beard hair.
There have been limited studies into spermidine as a topical treatment and a dietary supplement, but the quantities found in semen is too low to have a significant effect. To get a good effect from spermidine, you have to consume lab-made spermidine or get it from food items such as mushrooms and legumes.
It is best not to put any semen in your beard for beard growth as there is no evidence to support any of the components boost beard growth.