Allergic To What?

Sperm allergies have been discounted or improperly diagnosed, but this rare condition exists and primarily affects women. A sperm allergy is a sensitivity to the proteins in sperm. The official name is seminal plasma hypersensitivity and can occur with a regular partner or a first-time interaction. There are also cases where women develop the condition after pregnancy or prolonged periods of sexual contact. This allergic reaction is possible to treat and even allows women to get pregnant.

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Symptoms of a sperm allergy

Most women with semen allergies experience symptoms almost immediately. Symptoms include redness and burning when coming in contact with the semen. Women have hives that spread throughout the body in rare cases, even in areas the semen did not touch. In the most extreme cases, patients experience anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction to the nervous system. However, life-threatening reactions are rare, and symptoms clear up in hours. Therefore, couples or women with this condition can lead a healthy sex life with the proper precautions.

Can a sperm allergy impact family planning?

A sperm allergy will prove a challenge for women or couples trying to get pregnant. Of the estimated 40,000 people with the condition, many have pregnancy troubles. Simply put, there will be difficulties getting pregnant through unprotected sex. However, the situation does not mean that either party is infertile. Once diagnosed, a few options, both medical and technological, can help.

Possible treatment options

If a couple is not considering pregnancy, using a condom is the best way to avoid the allergy. In addition, a procedure called intravaginal grade challenge introduces diluted semen to build up the vagina’s tolerance. Lastly, antihistamines can also mitigate symptoms but should be avoided when trying to get pregnant. Like most treatments, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. If these fail, consulting a reproductive specialist to discuss conception goals is the next step.

Considering IUI?

If managing the allergic reaction fails, the doctor will suggest assisted reproductive technology (ART). Intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF)can increase the chances of fertility. IUI places the sperm directly inside the uterus. The purpose is to ensure sperm bypasses the vagina, where the irritation may occur. For IUI, a fertility clinic takes a sperm sample and washes away the proteins in a saline solution. Then, while timing the woman’s ovulation, a doctor transfers the washed sample to the uterus via a catheter. IUI can have great success rates for sperm issues like allergies.

Is IVF the best option for you?

IVF is another, more complex solution than IUI. This treatment uses multiple components to help fertility, eliminating the issue of a sperm allergy. First, the fertility clinic will provide the woman a series of medications to produce as many eggs as possible. The clinic then removes the eggs in a simple, outpatient procedure. The eggs are then screened in a lab and combined with washed sperm to form embryos. In some cases, the clinic will use a solitary sperm and directly fertilize the egg, known as ICSI. The best embryo is finally transferred to the woman’s uterus and monitored for pregnancy.

Talk to a fertility specialist

Although rare, a sperm allergy can make conceiving naturally tricky. However, the condition does not mean the woman or couple is infertile. What hypersensitivity does mean is that medical help will be necessary. If managing the symptoms fail, speak to a reproductive specialist about IUI and IVF. These methods have help couples with pregnancy problems, including sperm allergies.

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