Imagine you’ve met the guy of your dreams. He makes you laugh, he listens when you talk, and you share a lot of common interests. Finally, you get around to making love and then… Ouch! Your vulva is inflamed, the skin between your legs is red and you have an uncomfortable burning sensation. You think he’s given you an STI, but in reality, you could just be allergic to your sweetheart’s semen.
What are the symptoms of semen allergy?
Semen allergies most often affect women in their 20s. A woman who’s hypersensitive to semen will experience a variety of troublesome symptoms that may include redness, itching, swelling and burning. These aggravating signs may occur in and around the vagina, on the hands or in the mouth, depending on the location of the man’s ejaculate. In most cases, symptoms appear around 20 to 30 minutes after contact with semen.
Most of the time, semen allergies remain localized around the point of contact. In severe cases, a woman’s entire body may be affected. In rare cases, a woman may go into life-threatening anaphylactic shock after exposure to seminal fluid. A woman who is allergic to semen may notice symptoms following sex with her first partner. Sometimes, women become allergic to certain partners, but not others. It’s possible to develop an allergy to the semen of a long-time sex partner. And, if you’re wondering, men can be allergic to semen, too.
Does this mean I am allergic to sperm?
Probably not. A woman who has what doctors’ call “human seminal plasma protein hypersensitivity,” or SPH, are allergic to a protein contained in the ejaculate fluid, not the sperm itself.
If I’m allergic to semen, is my sex life is over forever?
No. Fortunately, there are treatments to help a woman overcome her sensitivity to semen. First, a doctor will make sure the woman is not suffering from a sexually transmitted disease such as thrush, chlamydia, or a yeast infection which can mimic a semen allergy.
Dr. David J. Resnick, director of the allergy department at New York Presbyterian Hospital, says there are two therapies that may help a woman deal with a semen allergy. One of these treatments involves a series of allergy shots made with small amounts of her partner’s ejaculate. The other treatment called “intravaginal seminal graded challenge” involves a doctor introducing graduated amounts of her partner’s diluted seminal fluid into her vagina with a syringe every 20 minutes over the course of several hours. Ask your gynecologist for more information.
Why would someone be allergic to semen?
The cause of seminal hypersensitivity is not completely understood. As is the case with most allergies, seminal sensitivity is a response to an irritant by the body’s autoimmune system.
Is there hope for women with semen allergies?
Sure there is! If you experience any of the symptoms of a semen allergy, make an appointment with your gynecologist. He or she can do tests to determine what’s causing your symptoms, and discuss your various treatment options.