Am I allergic to semen?

Am I allergic to semen?

Am I allergic to semen?

By Emma McGowan

You've noticed some discomfort after your partner ejaculates inside you during sex, and now you're wondering—could you be allergic to semen? Believe it or not, it's possible. Semen allergy, also known as human seminal plasma hypersensitivity (gesundheit), can cause mild to severe symptoms in some people.

Dr. Sasha Davenport, MD, FACOG, IF, Director of Female Sexual Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, tells The Pelvic People that semen allergies show up differently in different people.

"It's important to understand that a person can have different reactions to different partners," Dr. Davenport says. "It's also possible to become sensitized to an antigen over time."

Luckily, there are ways to handle even severe semen allergies. Let's take a look.

Are semen allergies real?

Unfortunately, semen allergies are very real. If you experience burning, itching, redness or swelling after unprotected sex or your partner ejaculates inside you, you may have a semen allergy. The discomfort usually happens within minutes of exposure to semen, but symptoms can appear up to a few hours later.

Semen allergies are often caused by an immune system overreaction to certain proteins in semen like prostaglandins, seminal plasma protein, and prostate-specific antigen. (All of which are way harder to remember than, say, gluten!) Exposure to these proteins, especially repeated exposure, can spark an immune response in people who are allergic.

Semen allergy symptoms to look out for

Some common signs of a possible semen allergy include:

  • Itching, redness, swelling, or irritation of the vagina, vulva, or penis after sex. (Or eye, mouth, or throat, depending on the point of contact.) This may appear within 30 minutes to an hour after exposure to semen.
  • Hives, rash, or welts on areas that came into contact with semen, such as the genitals, thighs, abdomen, or butt.
  • Nasal congestion, sneezing, or irritation of the eyes if semen came into contact with those areas.
  • More severe allergic reactions like dizziness, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis require immediate medical emergency.

Is it really a semen allergy? Or is it something else?

Dr. Davenport points out, however, that not everything that seems like a semen allergy is actually a semen allergy. She encourages health care providers to do a thorough history, including asking about condom usage, lube, spermicide, and possible infections. "All of those things can mimic an allergy," Dr. Davenport says.

Dr. Davenport has also found that certain "hygiene" products (aka douches and “intimate washes”) can irritate the vulva and vagina in ways that are similar to an allergy. And, finally, some patients might have "trigger points" that are hit during sex–like during a specific position (like doggy) or a specific move their partner does to have an orgasm–which could be causing the pain.

If possible, Dr. Davenport recommends finding a provider who specializes in sexual health.

"While gynecologists are equipped to handle many issues, when it comes to semen allergies, it's often more beneficial to consult with a specialist in sexual medicine," Dr. Davenport says. "Physical therapists can be helpful in managing pain, but typically an allergy diagnosis will be made by a specialist."

Getting tested for a semen allergy

Getting tested for a semen allergy is really the only way to know for sure if you have an allergy or sensitivity. The good news is, there are a couple options for testing that your doctor can recommend.

The first one you can do on your own: Have sex with a condom and see if you're still having a reaction. If the answer is yes, then it's likely not semen that's causing the reaction. Follow up with a health care provider so they can run other tests to see if they can figure out what's going on.

One of those tests might be a skin prick test, which involves placing small amounts of semen extract on your skin and pricking or scratching the area to see if there’s a reaction. If you’re allergic, you’ll develop redness, swelling, and itching at the test site. This test can determine if you have an IgE-mediated allergy, the most common type of allergy.

Tips for managing a semen allergy

Okay, so you've done some tests and you're pretty sure you have a semen allergy. Maybe you even have a diagnosis. So what do you do now?

Use protection

Dr. Davenport says that the simplest solution is for your partner to wear a condom during sex and ejaculate outside of your body. Condoms act as a barrier to prevent the semen from contacting your skin and entering your body, which makes them super effective for avoiding a reaction.

Explore desensitization treatments

Allergy shots or local sensitization (where they expose the vulva and vagina to diluted semen) expose you to small amounts of the semen allergen to help desensitize your body's reaction over time. These treatments, done under medical supervision, can be effective but may cause icky side effects and require frequent doctor visits.

Rinse after sex

Taking a shower immediately after sex to rinse away any remaining semen on your skin may provide relief from discomfort and reduce the severity of your symptoms. Be veeeery gentle when washing the sensitive areas of your vagina or vulva. Pat yourself dry instead of rubbing vigorously with a towel.

Give your body a break

If your symptoms are severe, avoiding exposure to semen altogether for a few weeks can help your body rest and recover. When you do resume sex with ejaculation, start slowly and see how your body responds before proceeding to higher levels of exposure. With patience and the right treatment plan, a semen allergy can often be managed well.


Having a semen allergy is one of those really bad-luck-of-the-draw situations: You’ll probably wonder why me?? But, luckily, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your sex life. With a couple condoms, some allergy treatment, a bit of patience, and a lot of communication, you can get back to hives-, rash-, and anaphylaxis-free sex again in no time.


  • I realised I was allergic after swallowing and getting diarrhea a few times in a row. I had a soldier boyfriend and every time he came home and I stayed with him..
    I had an upset stomach, until I connected the dots.

    N on

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