Can A Sperm Allergy Cause Infertility?

Sperm allergies are getting talked about more and more lately and for good reason. The allergy is a medical concern that not only impacts a person's health, but can cause intimacy issues between two partners. As you might imagine, being allergic to sex essentially, is a struggle that brings about many unique challenges in a relationship. Additionally, if a couple dealing with a sperm allergy is wanting to have a baby in the future they may be thinking about how the allergy impacts their chances of getting pregnant. Many will wonder, can sperm allergy cause infertility? It's certainly something worth exploring before trying to have a baby.

To be clear, a sperm allergy (as it's commonly dubbed) doesn't mean a person is allergic to the sperm exactly. According to the Mayo Clinic, a person who suffers from a sperm allergy is actually allergic to proteins in the semen, not the sperm component. Both men and women can be allergic to sperm and symptoms include redness, burning, and swelling at the area where the semen has touched. The allergy can also be more severe causing a sufferer to break out in hives, have itching, and trouble breathing. The good news is that if a person suspects they're allergic to semen they can be tested to find out for sure.

As for whether or not a sperm allergy impacts fertility, it appears there are some direct and indirect effects. "An allergy to semen means that your body naturally produces antibodies whose job it is to attack sperm," Dr. Jennifer Eaton of Duke Fertility Center tells Romper. "This can play a role in infertility, as these antibodies damage sperm cells' motility and restricts their ability to make it to the fallopian tubes, where they might stand a chance of fertilizing an egg."

Understandably, this might sound a little grim to couples wanting to conceive, but there is hope in options. "Even if it is determined that you have an allergy to semen and that these antibodies are present in your body, it doesn't mean you won't be able to have a baby," Eaton says, "It just means that it might be a little harder for you to become pregnant," Eaton says.

Beyond the direct impact on fertility a sperm allergy can also make sex less pleasurable for a woman, making her less likely to engage in sex. This indirectly hurts a couple's chances of getting pregnant.

Overall, it seems a sperm allergy doesn't automatically mean that a couple can't conceive. Eaton says couples might consider steroid treatments to help in their conception journey. A couple may also opt to undergo intrauterine insemination with sperm that's been washed of certain triggering proteins. The key is to get diagnosed and work with a doctor who can help you find the best options for you and your partner.