Most people know that love can sometimes hurt, but when the physical act of love leads to physical pain, something is very wrong.
Hypersensitivity, or allergy, to male seminal fluid (in women) was discovered many years ago. But recently, a related allergy has been found in men–they’re basically allergic to themselves. If you had a painful, allergic reaction (lasting up to a week!) every time you had sex, would you still want to have sex? Sounds like a painful decision…
In 2002, the first two cases of what is now called Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome (POIS) were reported. Just the name sounds terrible! This month, a new study from the same authors reported on 45 cases of POIS in Dutch men (reported in the Journal of Sexual Medicine). POIS has five characteristics:
- Feeling flu-like symptoms, extreme tiredness, weakness, memory problems, watery eyes, itchy nose, etc. (you have to have at least one);
- All the symptoms have to be present, at the latest, within a few hours after ejaculation;
- Symptoms occur at least 90% of the time you ejaculate;
- Most symptoms last for 2 to 7 days;
- Symptoms go away on their own.
In addition, over half (56%) of the men in the study had “lifelong” premature ejaculation. Compare that to only 2.5% in the population in general. The authors think this might be caused by the fact that they rarely have sex, but they still don’t know for sure how premature ejaculation and POIS are related.
Sounds pretty rough.
POIS is rare, but serious.
You can read this article about the study for more details if you’re interested. Hopefully getting it out there that POIS is a real medical issue, and not just psychological like people used to think, will help more men with POIS get treatment for it.
The female side: Human seminal plasma hypersensitivity (HSPH) is a condition in which women are allergic to their partner’s seminal fluid (but not sperm). The condition is very rare. Only about 100 cases have been reported since 1966 (but there may be many cases that aren’t reported).
Many women with HSPH only show a mild allergic reaction in the area that was exposed to semen. Often, it’s not bad enough to see a doctor about it, and sometimes even the gynecologist doesn’t know that it’s a semen allergy.
But there are worse cases: some women with HSPH can go into anaphylactic shock.
There are treatments for HSPH: abstinence from sex works 100% of the time, but so does using a condom in most situations.
If the woman wants to become pregnant, however, it’s a little trickier. Doctors have recently been recommending in vitro fertilization, since it’s the safest bet. If a natural pregnancy is really wanted, doctors can also try “desensitizing” the woman to her husband’s semen, but this doesn’t always work and carries a risk of anaphylactic shock.
- This woman was treated by desensitization. Part of the treatment: having sex every 48 hours.
- This woman was inseminated with “washed” sperm, but still had an allergic reaction.
- In this case, the woman correctly diagnosed her own allergy to her husband’s semen.
- Allergic to sperm? (community.bewell.com)