Updated: Wednesday, 29th January 2020 @ 1:55pm

Always getting a rash? Semen allergies 'much more common' than thought, Manchester research says

Always getting a rash? Semen allergies 'much more common' than thought, Manchester research says

By Naomi Powell

Semen allergies are much more common than previously thought, according to an expert from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Women aged 20-30 are most likely to be affected by semen allergies, though it has no effect on a woman’s chance of conceiving, says Lecturer in Reproductive Science Dr Michael Carroll.

Symptoms of hypersensitivity to human semen (HHS) are often misdiagnosed as sexually transmitted diseases or dermatitis, Dr Carroll claims in a paper published this week in health journal Human Fertility.

In the paper, he said: “In addition to the reaction and physical discomfort, women with HHS experience emotional stress due to the impact it can have on their relationships and the concerns about family planning.”

Symptoms of semen allergies range from itching and irritation to painful urination and – in the most serious cases – anaphylactic shock.

Hypersensitivity to human semen can be successfully managed through the use of condoms, though this is not an option for sufferers who wish to start a family.

Dr Carroll added: “There are numerous cases published of successful pregnancies achieved naturally and through assisted reproductive technology in women with this condition. We were able to reassure our patients that HHS does not cause infertility.”

In severe cases carrying a risk of anaphylactic shock, sperm can be separated from semen and used in IVF treatment.

Dr Carroll, along with colleagues at the regional IVF clinic, St Mary’s Hospital and the Department of Immunology at Central Manchester University Hospital, diagnosed four women with the condition.

The team carried out allergy skin prick test using separated sperm cells and semen to check for a reaction to both.

The four diagnosed women had an allergic reaction to the seminal fluid, but not the isolated sperm, demonstrating allergies caused by a component in the seminal fluid as opposed to the actual sperm cells.

The discovery follows a news story which broke in the US in May about a new bride who discovered she was allergic to her husband’s semen after their wedding, after initially thinking she had contracted a sexually transmitted disease.

Picture courtesy of Mexindian via Flickr, with thanks.

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