Is There Such a Thing as Sperm Allergy?

How Is It Diagnosed?

In many cases, a sperm allergy is misdiagnosed as a yeast infection, vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina), or a sexually transmitted disease (STD) like herpes. One of the easiest ways to diagnose a sperm allergy is to use a condom. If a woman does have a sperm allergy, she will not experience any symptoms when her partner uses a condom. The allergic reaction will only happen during unprotected sex.
If you are concerned that you may be allergic to sperm, make an appointment with your gynecologist, allergist, or healthcare provider. He or she can confirm whether you have a sperm allergy by using intradermal testing. This test will consist of injecting a small amount of your partner's semen under the skin, which can confirm whether there is an allergy.
In addition, an ImmunoCAP test can be used to confirm the allergy. This is a blood test that is not typically performed at commercial laboratories; it is usually done at a special laboratory.

How to Treat a Sperm Allergy

Until about 15 years ago, the primary treatment for a sperm allergy was avoidance or "barrier" treatment, which means using condoms. This is the most effective and easiest way to treat a sperm allergy. For couples who do not wish to use a condom every time they have sex, they may engage in coitus interruptus (where the man removes his penis from the vagina before ejaculating).
However, if these methods are not something that you wish to do on a regular basis, taking an antihistamine one hour before having sexual intercourse may help in mild cases. For most women, an antihistamine will not completely prevent symptoms, though.
Another treatment option includes going through a desensitization process at a specialized healthcare facility that specifically works with semen allergies. The initial step in this process is called the intravaginal seminal graded challenge method, which consists of diluting the semen down to various concentrations.
A small amount of the lowest concentration is then placed inside the vagina. Every 20 minutes, the concentration is gradually increased and placed intravaginally until the woman can tolerate pure semen. This process takes about two hours. After a woman is "desensitized," she must continue having unprotected sex every two to three days to remain desensitized.
In some cases, women may receive injections of small doses of the male partner's semen just under the skin (subcutaneously) -- a method that is similar to a regular allergy shot. However, this method is quite expensive, and it can take several weeks before you become desensitized.
In some cases, a healthcare provider will prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector, or EpiPen®, to have on hand in case of a dangerous allergic reaction.
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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