Sometimes it seems like allergies pop up out of nowhere. Allergies to things such as pollen and pet dander can seem to come on suddenly, but there’s often a reason.
A sperm allergy is one such case. Women with a sperm allergy can have a reaction that’s misdiagnosed as vaginitis, yeast infection or a sexually transmitted disease such as herpes.
A woman who has an allergic reaction to semen may have itching in her vulva and genital area. She may also have other symptoms, such as a runny nose and eyes, sore throat, swollen lips or tongue, or hives. She can also have a more serious reaction, such as shortness of breath and swelling of the larynx or throat, which requires immediate emergency management.
In some cases, a woman’s allergy to sperm can make it difficult for her to become pregnant. This is more likely if she is older or has other allergies. A healthcare provider can test her for a sperm allergy using a condom and skin testing. They can also wash sperm to remove the protein causing her reaction and inject it into her uterus through intrauterine insemination (IUI).
Allergies to other substances that come into contact with the vulva or vagina include lubricants, spermicides, tights and underwear, and cleansing wipes. These can have dyes, perfumes, or preservatives that cause itching and other symptoms.
Sexual allergies can be caused by a number of triggers, including environmental allergens, certain foods, and poor health and hygiene practices. Stress and anxiety can also make them worse, so it’s important to seek help for any emotional issues related to the condition. In addition to medical treatment, lifestyle changes can also help manage sexual allergies.
Diagnosing a sexual allergy can be difficult. Symptoms can be similar to other conditions, and they may come on suddenly. It is important to seek medical attention if you think you may have an allergic reaction, as untreated reactions can be dangerous.
Women with a sexual allergy often experience itching, swelling and burning in the genital area. They may also have hives elsewhere on the body. Typically, symptoms begin within 30 minutes of sexual contact but can last for hours or even days. Men can also have itching and swelling of the genitals as well. They can also have hives elsewhere on the body and may experience difficulty breathing.
If a person has a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, it is very important to seek emergency medical care immediately. If they have an epinephrine pen, follow the instructions for using it and call 911 or your local emergency department. It is also a good idea to have a friend or family member stay with the person until help arrives.
While it is not clear what causes sexual allergies, it is thought to be an immune response that affects both men and women equally. They can develop at any time and do not always run in families. A doctor can prescribe medications that can relieve the itching and other symptoms. They may also recommend immunotherapy, which involves gradually exposing the body to semen or other allergens in order to build up a tolerance.
For women with semen allergy (officially called seminal plasma hypersensitivity) the condition can make it difficult to conceive. But it’s important to remember that the allergic reaction is to the soup carrying the sperm, not the sperm itself, and some women have reported reactions to semen from multiple men. Healthcare providers can treat the allergy by washing sperm to remove the protein that causes it, then administering it into the uterus through intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization.
While a sexual allergy can affect both men and women, it’s most commonly experienced by women in their early 30s. The symptoms tend to occur on the vulva or inside the vagina, and they can be triggered by other bodily fluids, including saliva and urine. The allergic reaction can range from mild to severe, but in rare cases, anaphylaxis can occur, which requires immediate medical attention.
The good news is that the condition can usually be prevented by using condoms and practicing safe sex. But it’s also important to talk about it openly and address the misconceptions that surround it, like the belief that people with allergies are immoral or that they’re avoiding having sex for moral reasons.
The good news is that sexual allergies are more common than people might think and can be prevented with the help of a doctor. If you are experiencing itching and swelling after sex, or have other symptoms like difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention. Your healthcare provider will likely start by ruling out infections or vaginitis, as well as other potential allergens. Then a blood or skin prick test will determine if you have an allergy to semen.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to semen may be localized around the area where it landed on the skin, typically the vulva or penis, but they can also appear on any part of the body that comes into contact with the fluid. Symptoms are typically itching and burning, but can be more serious if they turn into hives or other life-threatening complications such as anaphylaxis.
One clue that a woman is allergic to her partner’s semen is that she only has symptoms during unprotected sex or when the sperm somehow escapes the condom during masturbation. This allergy can be difficult to diagnose since it is often misdiagnosed as vaginitis, a yeast infection or a sexually transmitted disease such as herpes. Treatment for a semen allergy includes antihistamines before and during sexual activity and desensitization treatments such as intravaginal graded challenge, where your healthcare provider injects diluted semen into the vagina at regular intervals to build up your tolerance.