If someone happens to experience itchiness, swelling, or other uncomfortable symptoms after coming in contact with bodily fluids, a semen allergy may be to blame. They might notice them in the vaginal area, but symptoms can occur in other parts of the body, too. And they can range from mild to severe. (And while we refer to male bodily fluids in the headline, it's important to note that not only men have semen and not all men have semen.)
"Allergy to semen is very rare," Kathleen Dass, MD, of Michigan Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center, tells Bustle. "The most recent estimates have the number of females affected at up to 40,000 [...] though it is likely under-diagnosed." And there are no current statistics for how it impacts men.
Also known as seminal plasma hypersensitivity, "symptoms can range from local reactions to more full body systemic reactions," Dr. Dass says. "[And they] can happen anywhere there is exposure to seminal fluid and usually occur within 30 minutes of exposure."
But there ways to keep yourself safe. "The easiest way to prevent a semen allergy is to use a condom," Dr. Dass says. "This does not account for a defective or leaking condom so it will be important to have an auto-injectable epinephrine pen at your bedside," if you experience more severe reactions.
If you'd like to have sex without a condom, there are ways to help your body get desensitized to semen through the use of allergy shots, Dr. Dass says. While a semen allergy is quite uncommon, don't hesitate to ask your doctor about it, if any of the symptoms below sound familiar. They can test you for the allergy, and help you get back to feeling better.