Womens Health

The Sex Cure

It can be difficult for a man to take in the idea that his female partner is allergic to his sperm. But it's nothing personal. Semen allergy is a real condition, though much less common than other causes of infertility.

Some women are allergic to all semen, while others are only allergic to the semen of one partner. While condoms can prevent painful symptoms or serious allergic reactions, their use rules out spontaneous conception (SC), which in some cases, can put a couple's relationship on rocky footing, or end it altogether. IVF has a good track record in achieving conception in couples where sperm allergy is an issue, but treatment is both expensive and complicated.

At a 2006 convention of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology in Philadelphia, Dr. David J. Resnick, MD, the acting director of New York Presbyterian Hospital's allergy division reiterated the fact that women sometimes do, in fact, have serious allergic reactions to the semen of their partners. The cure, says he, is sex, and a great deal of sex, at that. But don't try this at home, because semen allergy is serious and may lead to hives or even cause the sufferer to stop breathing.

Desensitization Therapy

Resnick detailed the case of a Puerto Rican woman who suffered from semen allergy and who received successful desensitization therapy from Resnick's team. The doctor explained that there are two forms of desensitization treatment. In one, allergy shots consisting of small doses of the partner's semen can be given to the woman. In the other form of desensitization treatment, a technique known as intravaginal seminal graded challenge is employed.

Intravaginal seminal graded challenge is a lengthy treatment which involves inserting the male partner's semen into the female partner's vagina by a doctor. This procedure is repeated every twenty minutes, and each time, the amount of semen is increased.

For both treatments, sex two or three times a week is a necessary part of the treatment. As Resnick explained, "Treatment failure is associated with couples who do not engage in frequent intercourse that re-exposes the patient to the allergen. Patients not living near their partners can refrigerate or freeze specimens so they can continue frequent exposure."

No Fatalities

Immunotherapy of any kind, including allergy shots and the seminal challenge are always done under the close supervision of a physician, because of the dangers of bringing on a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) which can cause shock or even death. Though no fatalities have been reported in those women with allergies to semen, Resnick believes it prudent for women with the condition to keep an epinephrine kit at the ready, just in case.

Rare Condition

Because of the rarity of semen allergy, those with the condition sometimes remain unrecognized as such, and are sometimes misdiagnosed. A sufferer tends to have a first reaction during her 20's. Not quite half of all those with semen allergy, 41%, have a reaction during their first experience with sexual intercourse. Symptoms tend to worsen with each sex act. The only known cure for the condition is sensitization therapy.

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