The term human seminal plasma (HSP) refers to the components of human semen other than spermatozoa. Allergic reactions to HSP is called seminal plasma hypersensitivity or sperm allergy. This condition is more common among women, affecting up to 40,000 women in the U.S. However, it is unclear how extensively this affects men who have sex with men. Studies also show that it is possible to be allergic to your own semen. This condition is called post-orgasmic illness syndrome.
People having an allergic reaction to semen experience one or more of the following after exposure:
Women who are affected usually experience symptoms on the vulva or inside the vaginal canal while symptoms in men occur mainly on the shaft or the area of the skin above the genitals. Symptoms may appear anywhere that has come in contact with semen, and this may include the hands, mouth, chest, and anus. While the reactions are often localized, some people may experience symptoms that affect their entire body. Men who are allergic to their own semen may experience severe fatigue, intense warmth, and flu-like symptoms after ejaculation.
Symptoms start within 20 to 30 minutes of contact or exposure and may last a few hours to several days, depending on the severity. In severe cases, anaphylaxis is possible. The symptoms usually appear within minutes of exposure and require immediate medical attention. Anaphylaxis symptoms include:
- respiratory difficulties
- swollen tongue or throat
- rapid, weak pulse,
If a semen allergy is suspected, your ob/gyn may send you to an allergist who can perform a skin test with your partner’s semen to confirm it. Research on this particular reaction is lacking, which can make diagnosis difficult. Doctors may even mistake a semen allergy for sexually transmitted disease, chronic vaginitis, yeast infection, and bacterial vaginosis.
SPERM ALLERGY TREATMENT
Treatment for HSP aims to minimize or prevent symptoms. The best way to prevent a reaction is to wear condom during sex. Men who are allergic to their own semen should also wear a condom during masturbation, although this may not prevent some body-wide symptoms. There is also desensitization, a process wherein an allergist or immunologist will place a diluted semen solution inside your vagina or onto your penis every 20 minutes or so. This process will continue until you’re able to withstand exposure to undiluted semen without getting rashes or other symptoms. After initial desensitization, consistent exposure is needed to maintain your tolerance.
Your doctor may also recommend taking over-the-counter antihistamine prior to any sexual activity to help minimize your symptoms especially if you and your partner opt against using a condom to prevent exposure.
OTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT HSP
Can this affect your ability to conceive?
For some women, it may affect their ability to conceive. While the allergy does not have any impact on fertility, the symptoms can still interfere with their ability to have sex.
Are other complications possible?
If the condition is severe, it can cause anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening. Having a semen allergy can also impact relationships negatively, as it can disrupt your sex life and affect your overall well-being.