Semen allergy is pretty rare, but it can come in the way of a satisfying sex life. We tell you all about semen allergy and how it may affect your sex life.

Itching, burning, swelling and irritation are all likely symptoms of a semen allergy, also known as seminal plasma hypersensitivity or sperm allergy. Women may end up with vaginal itching or feel a strange burning sensation after sex if they may be allergic to their partner’s semen. While there are many concerns whether this allergy affects fertility, one fact to know that semen allergy may actually affect your sex life.

What is semen?

Semen is the fluid that is emitted from male reproductive tract containing sperms and other secretions called seminal plasma secreted from various glands like seminal vesicles, explains gynaecologist and fertility specialist Dr Meenu Handa. It contains many constituents like fructose, amino acids, prostaglandins, calcium, potassium and protein splitting enzymes. It typically has a whitish-grey in colour and a slightly alkaline pH.

Semen allergy is rare. Image courtesy: Freepik

What are the causes of semen allergy in women?

It is a rare condition where a woman’s immune system reacts adversely to proteins found in semen, says the expert. Here are some potential causes and factors associated with semen allergy in some women:

1. Immune reaction

Semen allergy is essentially the immune system’s response to specific proteins found in semen. The immune system mistakenly identifies these proteins as harmful invaders and produces antibodies against them, leading to allergic symptoms upon exposure.

2. Hypersensitivity

Some women may have a heightened sensitivity or predisposition to develop allergies, including semen allergy. Women with a history of other allergies, such as food allergies, may be more prone to developing semen allergy.

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3. Hormonal changes

Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle or pregnancy can affect the immune system’s response and may influence the severity of allergic reactions to semen in some women, says the expert. Changes in hormone levels can also affect vaginal pH and lubrication, potentially exacerbating symptoms.

4. Previous sexual partners

Exposure to different semen proteins from multiple sexual partners may trigger allergic reactions in susceptible women. This is because each person’s semen contains a unique combination of proteins, and repeated exposure can sensitise the immune system.

5. Cross-reactivity

Some proteins in semen may share similarities with proteins found in other bodily fluids or substances, such as latex or certain foods. Cross-reactivity between these proteins can lead to allergic reactions in women with existing allergies to related substances.

What are the symptoms of semen allergy in women?

Semen allergy can cause a range of symptoms in affected women. These symptoms typically occur shortly after exposure to semen and can vary in severity from mild to severe. It can cause redness, burning sensation or pain or hives and itching around vagina and the vulva area. Here are some common symptoms of semen allergy:

  • Vaginal itching or burning
  • Redness and swelling
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge, which may be watery or thick and may have an unusual odour.
  • Hives (raised, red welts) on the skin
  • Localised rash

This allergy can affect women of any age group, but a research published in the Clinical & Experimental Allergy journal in 2004 found that many women reported that their symptoms started during their early 30s.

A woman turning down sex due to semen allergy
Semen allergy can affect your sex life. Image courtesy: Freepik

How does semen allergy affect sex life?

Semen allergy in women can cause vaginal itching, irritation, or discomfort that can happen during sex and persist even after intercourse. This can come in the way of a satisfying sex life. Women with semen allergy may also experience pain, discomfort, or a sense of rawness during or after sex, says Dr Handa. Since women with semen allergy may avoid or experience discomfort during sex, it can lead to decreased sexual frequency and satisfaction.

How to manage semen allergy?

Many women with semen allergy can effectively manage their symptoms and enjoy a satisfying sex life. Here’s what you need to know about managing semen allergy:

1. Avoidance

The most straightforward approach to managing semen allergy is to avoid exposure to semen. This may involve using barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, during sex.

2. Medications

Over-the-counter or prescription medications may be used to manage symptoms of semen allergy. Doctors may tell you to have Antihistamine to
reduce itching and inflammation down there. Topical corticosteroids or other anti-inflammatory creams may also be recommended for localised skin reactions, says the expert.

3. Lifestyle modifications

Making lifestyle modifications, such as practicing good genital hygiene and wearing breathable cotton underwear, can help minimise discomfort and reduce the risk of secondary infections or irritation.

Does semen allergy affect fertility?

Symptoms such as itching, burning or swelling can make sex uncomfortable or painful, potentially affecting sexual frequency and intimacy. While semen allergy itself does not directly affect fertility, the discomfort and avoidance of sex may indirectly impact a couple’s ability to conceive, says the expert. If couples are unable to have sex regularly due to allergic reactions then Artificial Insemination with no sperm from seminal plasma can help to get pregnant.

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