There are many reasons why a couple may be unable to conceive. However, if you've both been given a clean bill of health and are experiencing certain symptoms after sexual activity, you may have a condition called human seminal plasma hypersensitivity. Here's more information about this rare allergy and what you can do to overcome it.

What is Human Seminal Plasma Hypersensitivity?

Human seminal plasma hypersensitivity is basically the official name for an allergy to semen or, more specifically, a protein that semen contains. Researchers are uncertain exactly which protein is causing the trouble, but they do know it's one that present in the semen of most men.

The condition is very rare, affecting only about 20,000 to 40,000 people in the United States. Though most of those who have the allergy are women, men have also been diagnosed as being allergic to their and/or their partner's semen. However, because of this rarity and the fact the allergy produces symptoms common to other conditions, it is often mistaken for or misdiagnosed as sexually transmitted diseases or an infection such as vaginitis.

Symptoms of human seminal plasma hypersensitivity consist of itching, burning, and swelling of the genitals after contact with semen. In more serious cases, the person may experience systemic reactions such as shortness of breath, wheezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and gastrointestinal distress. Anaphylactic shock is also possible for people with severe allergies.

Typically the symptoms will manifest within 20 to 30 minutes after sexual contact and may not go away for several hours or days. The vagina already treats sperm as though they are foreign invaders and actively tries to destroy them. Having a semen allergy can make it even more difficult to conceive because the swelling can form a physical barrier that inhibits sperm's mobility, and the itching and burning can have a negative impact on your willingness and ability to engage in sexual activity.

Overcoming this Allergy

The easiest way to manage this allergy is to avoid coming into direct contact with semen by using condoms or vaginal prophylactics during sex. Advancements in in-vitro fertilization and other fertility technology have made it so you really don't have to get pregnant in the traditional manner anymore.

However, another option is to go through a desensitization program where a doctor gives you allergy shots containing a small amount of semen. Intravaginal seminal grading is also a treatment option consisting of introducing small amounts of semen into the vagina over a period of several hours. Both of these treatments require the man and woman to engage in unprotected sexual intercourse at least two to three times per week.

If you suspect you may have an allergy to semen, connect with an allergist in your area who can diagnose and treat you. For more information, contact Oak Brook Allergists or a similar organization.