Why Do Men Spit So Much?

Do you ever have one of those moments where once you get a thought in your head, you cannot get it out. Like when you realize someone has food in their teeth, and then you can’t focus on one thing they are saying? This happened to me during the Yankee game last night. It was an awesome game (if you are a Yankee fan) and normally, I enjoy all the nuances of America’s Greatest Pastime. But, right about the 4th inning, I noticed every time Joe Girardi was on camera, he was spitting. Then, I noticed anytime anyone was on camera, they were spitting. It was either plain old saliva, or saliva mixed with sunflower seeds, bubble gum juice or an unknown substance.

Once I became aware of it, it started to drive me bananas. Is their swallow reflex broken? Do they not know they are on camera? Were they raised in a barn? On the bright side, there isn’t as much tobacco being chewed, but on the dark side, spitting in public is gross. I see men do it all the time. My own husband, whose manners are pretty good, is guilty of it. It is so commonplace, we think men spit because they have no choice. Other than in college, on some boozy walks back to our dorm, or when the occasional athlete has been hit in the face and her mouth is bleeding, I don’t think I have ever seen a woman spit in public. This begs the question, why do men do it, and why is it somewhat socially acceptable?

Do men make more saliva than women? Nope. We all make about 2-4 pints a day, most of which is recycled because we are supposed to SWALLOW it. We make more when we are eating, and less while we are sleeping.

Do men have an inability to swallow their own saliva? Nope. The habit is purely cultural and learned. Boys grow up doing it and people nod and think, boys will be boys. Girls would be reprimanded as being gross if they started hacking up loogies on the street.

Can saliva on the street make us sick? Nope. Even though there are tons of microorganisms in saliva, there is little chance someone spitting on the street will make you sick. But, at the same time, watching someone spit may make you feel sick, and that’s bad enough.

Men and boys, listen up. There is nothing about your male make up that requires you to share your bodily fluids in public. There is absolutely no biological reason you can’t swallow your own spit. It is disgusting. Stop doing it. While you’re at it, stop scratching your balls too.

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness Coach. She helps clients with parenting issues, the challenges of college and young adulthood and issues related to health and habits. Email her at drkarenlatimer@gmail.com to learn more. She is the author of the Audible Original, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents.


Sign up for our email newsletter