Dangerous overreactions: there is actually a sperm allergy

Dangerous overreactions: there is actually a sperm allergy

Itching after sex can indicate allergy to sperm
An allergy to sperm? What sounds like a bad joke to most people actually does exist. Those affected develop allergic symptoms such as reddening of the skin and itchy rash after skin contact with sperm. This type of immune system overreaction is rare, but should not be underestimated. Because if the sperm allergy is not treated, it can have dangerous consequences. Desensitization can help, and the use of condoms reduces contact with sperm and thus complaints.

Sperm allergy is not a myth
A sperm allergy is neither a myth, nor a stupid joke, nor an excuse; they actually exist. "Unfortunately," says dermatologist and allergist Professor Dr. Johannes Ring. "Even if that sounds exotic at first, those affected don't find it funny at all," said the expert in a report from the dpa news agency. Professor Ring has researched the background of the extremely rare allergy and treated patients at the University Hospital of the Technical University of Munich. But it can also affect men.

Affected people can lose consciousness in an emergency
If sex itching in the genital area occurs, a sperm allergy can be the trigger. Then swelling and redness, wheal formation and rash all over the body can occur when semen comes into contact with the skin. If it is more pronounced, it does not stop there. “In parallel to these skin symptoms, shortness of breath or nausea can occur, as well as the involvement of the cardiovascular system with palpitations, a drop in blood pressure and even fainting and loss of consciousness. In the worst case, a fatal anaphylactic shock can occur, "Professor Ring told" MeinAllergiePortal "years ago. "Basically, these are relatively typical allergic symptoms," says the specialist, according to dpa. However, gynecologists should know that there is this particular form of allergy.

Changing sexual partners does not help those affected
People with a sperm allergy do not react to the sperm itself, but only to the liquid that contains sperm - the so-called seminal plasma. In principle, the body's immune system behaves like hay fever: it evaluates a certain, basically harmless substance as a pathogen and then triggers a violent immune response. In the case of a pollen allergy, certain proteins from bee pollen are responsible for the overreaction. The trigger for sperm allergy was unknown for a long time. However, a team led by Professor Ring managed to determine it a few years ago: it is a protein, the so-called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Since this protein is produced in the prostate and is found in every man, no other sexual partner can help those affected. "The allergy is not partner-specific," says the professor. It is an extremely rare reaction of the immune system.

Only around 100 cases known worldwide
According to the information, only around 100 cases of this allergy are described in the specialist literature worldwide. "Data from the USA are estimated to affect around 20,000 to 40,000 people," explained allergist and andrologist Jean-Pierre Allam, who, together with his colleagues at the University Hospital Bonn, primarily researches the relationships between sperm allergy and other allergies. Once the symptoms have been associated with an allergy, a test with sperm or isolated PSA can provide clarity. In this way, food allergies can also be excluded. "Around half of the patients are also known to have other allergies," said Allam. Overall, the number of unreported cases is high because it is uncomfortable for those affected to talk about their problem. "Reports have been increasing since 2005," explained the doctor.

Symptoms of illness after an orgasm
Sperm allergy was first described in 1958 by a Dutchman. Two years later, two of his compatriots analyzed the so-called “Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome” (POIS) in men, symptoms of illness after an orgasm. "In men, sperm triggers very non-specific symptoms that do not really fit an allergy," said Allam. For example, those who suffered from orgasm suffered from headaches and flu-like signs that could last two to seven days, but they respond positively to an allergy test with sperm. "The connection is still completely unexplored."

Sperm allergy can be treated well
According to Allam, the sperm allergy can be treated well. “The symptoms have to be treated immediately. The treatment corresponds to the acute therapy of the anaphylactic reaction, which can occur after insect bites, food or medication, ”Professor Ring told MeinAllergiePortal. He continued: "First of all, maternity leave strategies are recommended, the use of condoms, but they do not prevent contact." Nevertheless, Allam said in the dpa report: "Gold standard is intercourse with a condom". With this protection, patients usually remained symptom-free.

Affected women are not sterile
Both experts emphasized that women with sperm allergy are by no means sterile. You may be taking allergy suppressant medication before sexual intercourse. Another therapy for sperm allergy is hyposensitization, in which the body should develop a tolerance to the allergen. In addition, artificial insemination with washed sperm would be an option. "It works very well for healthy women," said Allam. However, the costs of the treatment are not covered by the health insurance companies. "Overall, a lot of research work is still needed on sperm allergy," said Professor Dr. Ring. And Allam added: "Sperm allergy is still a rather inaccurate term."
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