There are several reasons why a woman's vagina may become itchy after sex. Too much friction and insufficient lubrication can cause a burning sensatio
There are several reasons why a woman’s vagina may become itchy after sex. Too much friction and insufficient lubrication can cause a burning sensation in the vaginal area. The irritation may also be caused by sperm allergy.
Medically referred to as human seminal plasma hypersensitivity (HSP), this type of allergic reaction usually affects women. However, there are also instances when a man may develop an allergic reaction to his own semen. Learn more about sperm allergy and how it can be treated.
What is Sperm Allergy?
Sperm allergy or HSP occurs when localized or systemic symptoms after one has been exposed to certain proteins contained in the semen. It’s considered a rare type of allergy and is often confused with other health conditions such as yeast infection.
Experts have not yet identified specific risk factors for sperm allergy. However, women who develop sperm allergy often have a history of atopy and are genetically prone to allergic diseases.
In many cases, an allergic reaction to sperm is discovered right after a woman’s first sexual interaction. However, there are also cases when sperm allergy only occurs with a specific partner but not with another. There are also instances when a woman suddenly experiences an allergic reaction to the semen of her exclusive long-term partner.
What are the Symptoms of Sperm Allergy?
The symptoms of human seminal plasma hypersensitivity would depend on whether the allergic reaction is localized or systemic.
If it’s localized, it means that the symptoms are limited only to the part of the body that was exposed to or had contact with semen.
For instance, if you ejaculated inside your partner’s vagina, she may experience redness, swelling, and itching in her vaginal region. If your partner performed oral sex and you ejaculated in her mouth, the swelling and itching may be localized in her mouth area.
For women who develop a systemic allergic reaction to semen, however, the symptoms may be more severe. If it’s systemic, it means that the symptoms are affecting not just a certain part but her entire body. She may experience swelling and itching all over her body. Hives or urticaria may also affect her entire body.
When the allergic reaction to semen causes anaphylaxis, immediate medical care is needed. Anaphylaxis is often accompanied by shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness, and nausea. It becomes life-threatening if it causes the throat or the tongue to become swollen, which can block the airway and make breathing difficult.
How is Sperm Allergy Diagnosed?
Because it’s a rare type of allergy, research on human seminal plasma hypersensitivity is quite limited and not many doctors have had the chance to treat a patient with sperm allergy. In fact, there are many cases of sperm allergy being misdiagnosed as bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia, chronic vaginitis, and other STDs.
The simplest way to find out if it’s really sperm allergy is to compare what happens if you use a condom during sexual intercourse. If your partner doesn’t show any allergic reaction when you’re using protection but she experiences post-sex itching if you don’t use a condom, then it’s highly likely that your partner has sperm allergy.
To make a diagnosis, doctors usually do a skin test by injecting a diluted sample of your semen under your partner’s skin. If your partner shows symptoms of sperm allergy in the area where your semen sample was injected, then your doctor will most likely diagnose it as human seminal plasma hypersensitivity.
How is Sperm Allergy Treated?
To treat sperm allergy or HSP, doctors may recommend a procedure called intravaginal seminal graded challenge. The doctor or allergist introduces a diluted sample of the semen into the vagina. This is done repeatedly while increasing the proportion of semen in the sample until the patient is no longer showing any allergic reaction to semen.
Unfortunately, the intravaginal seminal graded challenge is quite time-consuming because the semen sample has to be injected at regular intervals of 20-30 minutes. In addition, this treatment option is not always available nor accessible to everyone.
For women who are allergic to sperm, taking an antihistamine right before engaging in sex may help to lessen or prevent the symptoms of sperm allergy from flaring up. However, for those with severe sperm allergy, doctors recommend having an epinephrine auto-injector or EpiPen handy.
The best way to prevent sperm allergy symptoms from showing is simply to prevent any contact with semen. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have sex at all with your partner if she’s allergic to your semen. Rather, it means that you should always wear protection.
Can Sperm Allergy Affect Your Fertility?
Since you’ll always need to wear a condom so that your partner won’t experience any sperm allergy symptoms whenever you have sex, it means that conceiving a child through natural means might not be possible.
However, it doesn’t mean that you or your partner have become infertile and can no longer have children.
Many couples with sperm allergy problems have children, although a lot of them did it through assisted reproductive technology.
With in-vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, your partner won’t ever have to come into physical contact with your sperm since fertilization of the egg cell happens outside of your partner’s body.
You can also wait until your partner’s sperm allergy is fully treated before you try to get on the family way. If you’re trying to conceive, the intravaginal seminal graded challenge would be a great treatment option since it would require that your partner is exposed to your sperm regularly to maintain her tolerance of your semen.
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