Everyone's heard of allergies to peanut, cats, and pollen , just to name a few. But an allergy not often talked about (until recently, that is) is a sperm allergy. It's a pretty taboo subject that is most often met with embarrassment and stigmatization, which is pretty unfortunate. Thankfully, the condition is getting a lot of attention lately because many are finally recognizing it as a real allergy. Beyond acknowledging it, many are wondering how it impacts sex, fertility, and even existing pregnancies. Can a sperm allergy cause miscarriage? It's a scary thought for sure.
Those people suffering from seminal plasma hypersensitivity, or a sperm allergy, are essentially allergic to sex with their male partners, according to the Wellness website. It might sound bizarre, but a sperm allergy affects more people than you might think. Dr. Jonathan Bernstein, a professor at the University of Cincinatti who specializes in allergies and immunology, told ABC News that sperm allergies affect an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 women in the United States. He added that it's not rare, but the condition often gets confused with other vaginal infections or sexually transmitted diseases (the allergy is neither).
The triggering allergen is actually a protein in the semen that causes the allergic reaction, as explained in the aforementioned Wellness post. Symptoms can be anything from a little redness, burning, hives, or worst case - an anaphylaxis reaction which causes breathing difficulties. The allergy is absolutely painful for some sufferers and beyond the discomfort, it can be really scary for couples.
There are some obvious challenges in the bedroom if you suffer from this allergy. Additionally, there may be some difficulties conceiving. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are treatments available to desensitize your allergic reaction which would allow a person to conceive without medical intervention. But if your reaction is really severe your doctor may recommend intrauterine insemination using sperm washed free of semen proteins to prevent a reaction. Or you could do in vitro fertilization to become pregnant.
As for whether or not a sperm allergy causes miscarriage, it doesn't seem likely. "A semen allergy can make it harder to get pregnant - because the body is actively fighting off semen," Dr. Jennifer Eaton, a fertility specialist, tells Romper. But she adds that, "once a woman has become pregnant, it is extremely unlikely that a semen allergy would play any part in causing a miscarriage."
You could always have your partner wear a condom if you're concerned or abstain from sex completely. In the end, it might be best to ask your doctor before you have sex to ease your mind, that way you can be more relaxed during sex and not stressed.