Allergic To Sex

Most women at one time or another have felt compelled to give an excuse for getting out of intimacy when they just don't feel like making love. But some women don't have to invent excuses—they are allergic to sex—and we mean that in the literal sense of the word "allergy." Semen allergy is an uncommon situation but it does exist.

Often Misdiagnosed

Semen allergy is a condition characterized by pain, burning, swelling, and redness. Doctors often misdiagnose the ailment as a yeast infection, or worse yet, as genital herpes. No matter what your doctor (sometimes in error) calls your condition, a semen allergy can make intimacy difficult and pregnancy nigh impossible. The good news is that once you obtain an accurate diagnosis, you can receive successful treatment.

In a typical case of semen allergy, the reaction occurs when there is contact with semen, within 20-30 minutes. The symptoms, including pain, burning, and swelling, can be quite long-lasting—up to hours or even days. Most often, it is the external vaginal area that is affected, though sometimes there is a sensation of internal pain. Some women have described the pain as being very severe—as if they were being injected with several needles at one and the same time. There have also been cases of systemic reactions to semen which involve breathing difficulties, swelling, and hives. As yet, no fatalities due to semen allergies have been reported.

Sickening Partners

Research has shown that it is the proteins found in semen that are the culprits in semen allergy. Some proteins are common to all semen, while others appear to be unique to the semen of a particular individual. That means that it's possible for a woman to be allergic to a specific partner!

Women who are found to have a semen allergy may not be allergic to any of the common allergens, such as pollen or peanuts, though sometimes family members will be found to have food allergies. The connection to food allergies is still fuzzy. Semen allergy is also not thought to be a type of contact dermatitis, since an oral reaction to semen is rare. There have been a few cases of women developing facial acneiform lesions after oral sex, though internal reactions to swallowed semen have not been reported. Doctors believe that there may be a neutralizing factor in the gastrointestinal system.

IVF Treatment

While women who have been diagnosed with semen allergy can be intimate as long as their partners wear condoms, infertility is an issue, since condom use precludes the possibility of becoming pregnant. In vitro fertilization (IVF) has proved to be a boon to couples in which the female partner has been found to have a semen allergy. The process of IVF involves washing the semen to get a cleaner, more fertile sperm sample, which is then injected straight into the uterus. The washing procedure seems to clear the semen of the offending proteins.

It can be tricky to diagnose a semen allergy. One method that is tried and true is the use of condoms during lovemaking but prior to sexual intercourse, since there is some semen leakage before the sex act. If the condom prevents a reaction, it proves the presence of semen allergy.

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