Alternative Names: Human Seminal Plasma Hypersensitivity (HSPH).
As with any substance, it is possible to be allergic to seminal fluid and it is estimated that 5% of women have semen allergy.
Since returning from the Persian Gulf War of 1991, veterans and/or their wives have reported burning after contact with semen. This has been called Burning Semen Syndrome (BSS). This syndrome is currently under investigation to establish whether it is toxic, immunologic or infectious in nature. These reactions are similar to those experienced by women with established allergic reactions to their husband's semen.
Semen allergy was first reported by gynecologists in 1958, but the prevalence of the condition was basically unknown until a University of Cincinnati College of Medicine study in 1996. Dr. Jonathan A. Bernstein, the lead author of the study, said the disorder was much more common than previously recognized after a survey of 1,073 women who were suspected of having "semen allergy" symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of semen allergy can either be localized or systemic reactions. The localized reactions can include vaginal burning, pain, swelling, redness, or blisters forming within 30 minutes of exposure to semen. The systemic reactions can include generalized itching, hives
, wheezing, and in very rare cases anaphylaxis
. Semen allergies may also make it difficult to conceive.
Diagnosis and Tests
There are a number of diagnostic procedures available to help determine this allergy. As always, you should report any symptoms to your physician so that they can rule out infections or other problems.