Peanut butter, cat dander, and pollen are well-known allergens. But for some people, intimate encounters lead to bad reactions, too. With this in mind, can a woman be allergic to a man's sperm? It's a legit concern for many people.
To spare you the suspense, the answer is yes. According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM), a sperm allergy is rare, but some people are indeed allergic to the proteins found in semen. Also known as seminal plasma hypersensitivity, this reaction can last for hours or even days after sex, as further explained by ISSM. Experiencing burning or itching around the vaginal area right after intercourse is one symptom, as noted by Baby Center. For some people, though, the symptoms of a semen allergy can include breaking out in hives and experiencing breathing troubles, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. Sometimes, getting breathless and flustered from sex is not a sign of passion, but of allergies.
As you may expect, having a semen allergy can lead to additional complications. It can put stress on sexual relationships, for one. It can also present difficulties for women who want to conceive a baby. According to the Mayo Clinic, a semen allergy alone will not cause infertility, but for severe reactions a woman may need intrauterine insemination with sperm that's been washed of its proteins. (Yes, sperm washing is a part of the insemination process.)
For what it's worth, treatments are available for people with seminal plasma hypersensitivity. As noted by ISSM, using condoms or the pull-out method can help reduce the exposure to sperm. This can make sex more enjoyable for the allergic party. For couples who want to pursue unprotected sex, taking an antihistamine beforehand may help, as explained in the website for Self. In some cases, the cause itself may be the cure. According to WebMD, frequent sex may help the allergic partner become less sensitized to the semen. In any case, however, it's wise to check in with your physician to find the treatment option that's best suited to your needs. In an ideal scenario, you and your doctor will find a way to manage this rare but disruptive allergy.