A sperm or semen allergy is rare. Only 20,000-40,000 people are thought to have this type of allergy, according to Discovery Health. The allergy is not actually to the sperm but to the semen or more specifically, a protein in the semen.
Symptoms of a semen allergy, also called seminal plasma hypersensitivity, are redness, swelling, pain, itching or burning in the vaginal area that occurs 10 -30 minutes after exposure to semen. If other areas of the body have been exposed to semen such as the mouth or skin, the symptoms may occur there.
Additionally if the allergy is more severe, hives can or shortness of breath can develop. Symptoms can last for a couple of hours to a few days.
It can be difficult to diagnose semen allergies in women, as they may not have this reaction to all sexual partners.
Semen allergies are often misdiagnosed as a vaginal infection, yeast infection or sexually transmitted disease (STD). It can be doubly hard to diagnose if a woman suffers from both an infection and semen allergy at the same time, like the following couple described by ABC news.
Clara and Jeff (not their real names) were madly in love and had recently married. Clara began developing symptoms of an allergic response soon after having sex with Jeff. She went to her local gynecologist and even went to several other doctors trying to find out why she was having reactions after being intimate with Jeff.
The couple searched the Internet for clues and figured out that Clara was having an allergic reaction to Jeff’s semen. They tried using condoms to prevent her from being exposed to the semen, but it still didn’t help. To top matters off, Clara was getting yeast infections after having sex with Jeff.
The situation was ruining their life and taking a toll on their marriage. They finally found help from expert Dr. Jonathan Bernstein, a professor at the University of Cincinnati who specializes in allergies and immunology.
Treatment for semen allergies involves isolating the protein from the man’s semen and doing skin testing on the woman to confirm the allergy. Then the woman goes through a process of being desensitized to the allergen.