Semen allergy: what are the symptoms? what solutions?

What is semen allergy?

Rather than talking about a semen allergy, we should rather talk aboutseminal fluid allergy, because it is the proteins contained in the seminal fluid that are involved and not the spermatozoa themselves. The first case was described in 1967 by the French allergist Bernard Halpern. As explained by Dr Habib Chabane, allergist:

In the majority of reported cases, the allergic reaction occurs within an hour of having sex unprotected (vaginal or anal), it is the so-called immediate form, the most classic.

But there are also non-immediate forms (the reaction is local and delayed) more difficult to diagnose, and textbook cases ofseminal fluid allergy. This last case, more rarely described, concerns allergy to a food or to a drug in women, the food or the drug having been consumed by the partner a few hours before sexual intercourse. The specialist gives the example of a woman allergic to penicillin, whose husband was treated with this antibiotic and who therefore developed an allergy to her husband’s semen, the drug also passing through the semen.

Non-immediate forms of allergy to seminal fluid are probably underestimated. They are manifested by vulvar itching often mistaken for vaginal yeast infection or local eczema.

What are the symptoms of immediate allergy?

They can be cutaneous, respiratory or cardiovascular: this can initially result in burns and vulvar or vaginal itching. With the renewal of sexual intercourse hives may appear, edema of the genitals, swelling of the eyes and / or lips, an asthma attack, a drop in blood pressure, or even anaphylactic shock.

I happened to see a patient who came for nocturnal asthma and who turned out to be an allergy to seminal fluid, reports Dr. Chabane.

In all cases, the reaction does not take place in the event of sexual intercourse protected by a male condom and will however occur every time. in case of unprotected intercourse. So when you’re in a relationship, the problem arises more often (since you usually have unprotected sex). About two-thirds of cases are diagnosed in young women between the ages of 20 and 30.
It is not partner dependent and it can happen with a long standing partner.

How many people are affected?

“As a specialist, I see about one or two cases per year, estimates the allergist, but this allergy is probably underdiagnosed because it is unknown, including by certain health professionals. If, for example, a woman suffers from vulvar itching, she will go to a gynecologist who will potentially think of candidiasis or vaginitis and will then probably prescribe antifungal eggs … But the itching could come from a seminal fluid allergy. Do not forget to look for a latex allergy if the symptoms only occur with protected sex with a male condom. “

Editor’s note: by extrapolating data from an American study dating from the 2000s, it was estimated that around one in 5,000 women could suffer from a potential allergy to seminal fluid (source 1). But that remains very hypothetical …

An allergy exclusively female

” It’s because in women, seminal fluid proteins do not exist that she can become aware of it. Men do not develop an allergy to seminal fluid. “In any case today it has not been demonstrated”, specifies the specialist.

A relationship with male dog allergy

Analysis of series of patients allergic to seminal fluid revealed that they often reacted to a allergen present in male dogs (positive skin test for dogs) without necessarily having an allergy to dogs. Because there is a protein in the male dog (Can f 5) which looks like one of the proteins in human seminal fluid and which is the common allergen. This dosage is available routinely by a simple blood test and helps diagnose this allergy to seminal fluid.

Please note: a male dog can therefore make you allergic to your partner’s semen ! Like the case of this 60-year-old woman who became allergic to her husband’s semen after 40 years of marriage, because she had recently adopted a male dog! Moral of the story ? A man’s best friend is therefore not necessarily a woman’s!

The priority is to question the patient properly, details the allergist: when and how did the reaction appear? Does the patient own a dog or not? Does the reaction follow safe sex or not? Etc.

Then, in the event that one suspects a immediate type allergy, we can then perform either a skin test, by pricking the skin to work a drop of seminal fluid from the partner (after having performed viral serologies), or take a blood test: dosage of specific IgE in human seminal fluid (a class of allergy antibodies) , and Can f 5 (male dog allergen). The results are sometimes negative, if the symptoms are only local and not immediate.
In this case, a patch test with seminal fluid can show sensitization if it is positive (redness and itching where the patch was applied).

Note: having an atopic ground can promote the onset of allergy to seminal fluid.

Allergy to seminal fluid: are there any treatments?

The best alternative is to avoid exposure to semen by wearing a condom.
Vaginal desensitization has been used successfully by some medical teams.
Editor’s note: if desensitization processes by injectable routes exist (source 1), they seem to present risks and are therefore not recommended.

Who to consult?

Allergists are the most willing to answer, because they are more up to date on this subject than gynecologists, but very often, it is the patients who raise or ask themselves the question of this possible allergy, concludes the specialist.

How to have children?

Today, we can simply perform artificial insemination with “washed sperm” (from which the proteins have been removed) or have recourse to IVF.

What to remember about semen allergy

  1. If you have an allergy after sex or if you have vaginal pain, burning or itching of unknown origin, this should be taken into consideration.
  2. The use of the male condom is the best solution to avoid a recurrence.
  3. Opting for a female dog when you are a woman can limit the risk of sensitization, especially if you have an atopic land.
  4. Changing partners does not prevent allergy.

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Semen allergy: what are the symptoms? what solutions?

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