Allergies are quite common, but how common is a semen allergy? Yes, there is such a thing. And women who have this very rare allergy cannot have sex without having a sore, painful vagina or hives or even going into anaphylactic shock. While it seems cruel that something so natural should have consequences, your body may sometimes have trouble distinguishing the harmless proteins from the harmful ones. In such cases, you experience an allergic reaction. If you tend to itch and burn after having sex, whether you are allergic to semen is worth considering. Here are a few things you might want to know about this allergy.
What Is A Semen Allergy?
Simply put, a semen allergy – which also goes by the names sperm allergy and seminal plasma hypersensitivity – is a reaction that some women experience to their partner’s semen proteins.1 There aren’t enough documented cases of whether this allergy is as common in men. In general, it is understood that if you are in a heterosexual relationship and you are the woman, you may be susceptible to semen allergies.
id="how-do-you-distinguish-an-allergy-from-an-infection">How To Distinguish An Allergy From An Infection
In most cases of semen allergy, reactions don’t go so far as hives and anaphylactic shock. You may most probably end up with itching, redness, and soreness in and around the vagina. So, it is easy to confuse an allergic reaction to semen with yeast or bacterial infections of the vagina, both of which cause itching and redness. One way to tell the two apart is to use a condom. If you use a condom during intercourse and still have redness, you most probably an infection. However, if using a condom prevents you from developing redness, you are most likely allergic to semen.2
There is a pitfall here, though. Some people are allergic to more than one trigger. If you are allergic to both latex and semen, the condom can also cause an allergic reaction and lead you to a false conclusion.
id="what-should-you-do-if-you-have-a-sperm-allergy">What Should You Do If You Have A Semen Allergy?
If you suspect that you are allergic to semen, visit an allergist for a confirmed diagnosis. The allergist may inject you with a small portion of your partner’s semen under your skin to test for a reaction. If you have a reaction, the diagnosis is confirmed.
Your allergist may recommend a popular form of treatment known as the intravaginal graded challenge. In this procedure, increasing quantities of semen are introduced into your vagina at graded intervals to build resistance to the proteins. The process is always carried out in a controlled setting and requires close monitoring for severe reactions.3
What If You Have Never Been Allergic Before Now?
Even if you haven’t been allergic to semen previously, it is quite possible that you develop an allergy to it many years after exposure or that you may be allergic only to one partner’s semen. Often, women report developing this condition in their mid-thirties.4 So, if all treatments for infections fail, the diagnosis of an allergic reaction might be worth considering.
id="how-do-you-conceive-if-you-have-a-sperm-allergy">How To Conceive If You Have A Semen Allergy
A semen allergy does not affect your fertility by itself.5 So, if you are looking to conceive and have children soon after you’ve been diagnosed with it, you can opt for artificial insemination.6 The procedure involves washing the semen thoroughly and almost guarantees that you conceive without having an allergic reaction.
In some cases, after being treated with the intravaginal graded challenge, women report developing resistance to semen and do not have an allergic reaction to it anymore. So, if you’re one of those women, it might just be possible for you to conceive in the conventional way. However, it’s a good idea to meet an allergist to discuss your options first.
id="how-does-a-sperm-allergy-affect-your-quality-of-life">Does A Semen Allergy Affect The Quality Of Life?
A semen allergy can be uncomfortable to discuss and share with your partner. So, you may find yourself keeping secrets or avoiding sex entirely. However, if you are diagnosed with this allergy, it’s crucial that you discuss the matter with your partner. Share resources about the condition and your personal experience so that he understands your situation better and is there for you emotionally. Your partner’s support will go a long way in successful treatment.
All our bodies have quirks. So, if you have a semen allergy, don’t be embarrassed about it. See a doctor and disclose your symptoms without hesitation. Only then can you be treated well.
|↑1, ↑2||What is a sperm allergy?. International Society For Sexual Medicine.|
|↑3||Lee-Wong, Mary, Jennifer S. Collins, Cyrus Nozad, and David J. Resnick. “Diagnosis and treatment of human seminal plasma hypersensitivity.” Obstetrics & Gynecology 111, no. 2, Part 2 (2008): 538-539.|
|↑4||Shah, A., and C. Panjabi. “Human seminal plasma allergy: a review of a rare phenomenon.” Clinical & Experimental Allergy 34, no. 6 (2004): 827-838.|
|↑5||Resnick, David J., Dimitrios C. Hatzis, Polly Kanganis, Frederick L. Liccardi, Mary Lee‐Wong, and Jonathan A. Bernstein. “The approach to conception for women with seminal plasma protein hypersensitivity.” American Journal of Reproductive Immunology 52, no. 1 (2004): 42-44.|
|↑6||Ferré-Ybarz, L., M. Basagaña, B. Coroleu, B. Bartolomé, and A. Cistero-Bahima. “Human seminal plasma allergy and successful pregnancy.” Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology 16, no. 5 (2006): 314.|