We've heard of peanut allergies, but... sperm allergies? A recent Good Morning America story had us talking. A woman developed a bizarre reaction (swelling, redness, etc.) after having sex with her husband. After several doctor visits, she learned she suffered from seminal plasma hypersensitivity, an allergic reaction to the proteins found in her husband's sperm.Shutterstock.com
We took this straight to practicing physician and women's health expert Dr. Raj (whom you've seen on Bethenny.com), and insisted she tell us what we need to know...
Ask Dr. Raj: Could I Be Allergic to Sex?
Q. Is it common for women to be allergic to sperm (suffer from seminal plasma hypersensitivity)?
A. It is quite uncommon, although the true numbers are not really known.
Q. Can a woman be tested to find out if she's allergic to anything she would come in contact with during sex?
A. Yes, an allergist can run tests for a reaction to latex, other chemicals, and even your partner's sperm.
Q. How can a woman know the difference between an allergy in the vaginal area, versus a yeast infection?
A. It's not easy to tell by symptoms, because they can both cause pain, redness and itching. But yeast infections often also cause a white discharge, but the only true way to tell the difference is to be tested for a yeast infection by your gynecologist.
Q. Is it common for men to suffer the same allergic reactions?
A. Condom allergy is not that rare (about 7%) in men, and they can also be allergic to spermicidal lubricant, however, it is extremely rare for a man to be allergic to a woman's vaginal secretions.
Q. How can a woman make sure she's using condoms that don't irritate the skin?
A. Usually condoms can cause irritation because there is not enough lubricant, so adding a water based lubricant can help, however, if she is truly allergic to latex or the spermicide, she should talk to her doctor about other options.
Dr. RajDr. Roshini Raj appeared on "Bethenny" in summer 2012 answering your health questions. She is a board certified gastroenterologist and internist with a medical degree from New York University School of Medicine and an undergraduate degree from Harvard College. Currently, Dr. Raj is an attending physician at NYU Medical Center/Tisch Hospital in New York City, where she was the first female gastroenterologist to join the faculty. She also serves as an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Raj has a special interest in women's health and cancer screening and has published several research articles on colon cancer screening.