On ABC's "The View," they recently discussed a situation where a couple who wanted to become pregnant had hit a dead end due to a semen or "sperm allergy." For those of you who would like to know what a semen allergy is and how it is diagnosed and treated, here goes...

A semen allergy is caused by an allergic reaction to a particular protein in semen. The onset can vary. A woman could have been just fine with a partner's semen for a couple of years, and then suddenly start having an allergic reaction to it for no good reason. On the other hand, a semen allergy can be there from the start. Symptoms include burning and itching.

While a semen allergy isn't totally rare, it's not particularly common. One way to decide if the reaction you are having is to semen or to something like chronic vaginitis is to use a condom during intercourse. (It's best to use a polyurethane condom or perhaps one of the new Lifestyles Skyn condoms, given how your symptoms might also be from a latex allergy.) If the symptoms appear only after intercourse without a condom, it's time to consider a semen allergy.

Aside from a complete gynecologic exam, you will need to get intradermal testing to see if you have an allergy to semen. This is where a small amount of semen is injected under the skin.

Fortunately, there is a desensitization treatment for semen allergy that is safe and effective. You need to do it under the supervision of an allergist or immunologist. It is called a "graded challenge" where diluted solutions of semen are placed in your vagina every twenty minutes until you are able to tolerate undiluted semen. The downside is that the couple has to have intercourse at least once every 48 hours to maintain the desensitization!

Another fascinating thing about semen allergy is you don't get a bad reaction to the semen of just one guy. If you did, switching partners would be a treatment option, although not always a desired or practical one. If you get a semen allergy, it's to a protein in semen that all men have.

Also, once you develop a semen allergy, it's not just in your vagina. The burning and itching can occur any place where semen touches your skin, including in your mouth or up your bum. As is the case with food allergies, a semen allergy might go as fast as it came.

If you are concerned that you or a partner might have a semen allergy, be sure to check with your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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