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Allergic to sperm?

WOMAN'S INSTINCT
By Hannah Chira | September 15th 2012

An allergy is an abnormal reaction of the immune system that occurs in response to otherwise harmless substances and is regarded as a medical abnormality.

Even though not a large number of people are allergic to sperm, about two per cent of fertile couples are recorded to have sperm allergies. About 20 to 40 percent of couples with sperm allergies conceive with the help of artificial insemination or an assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment.

Antibodies
Interestingly, it is not only women who develop an immune reaction to sperm, also called sperm antibodies, men too can develop an allergy to their own sperm. Usually this reaction causes women and men’s bodies to produce antibodies that affect sperm’s ability to move, inhibiting fertilisation.

It is however, not know why some women develop sperm antibody reactions. On the other hand, men are known to develop antibodies to their own sperm when it comes into contact with his blood. This happens when he has a vasectomy, testicular torsion where the testicle twists inside the scrotum, infection or trauma.

Research has also found out that men who go for reverse vasectomies in the hope of fathering children often develop an allergic reaction to their own sperm.

Usually, what happens is that the body recognises semen as a foreign protein just as it would recognise a peanut allergy or pollen

Symptoms
Usually, an hour or half an hour after unprotected intercourse, an allergic woman may develop hives, swollen eyes, diarrhoea and even breathing difficulties.

Fortunately, not any fatalities are know to result from this condition, but deaths are more likely to occur as the result of a classic anaphylactic response especially for those experiencing breathing problems.

The consequences can be devastating for a woman trying to become pregnant. The good news is, this condition, also known, as seminal plasma hypersensitivity is, treatable.

It is also reported that some people may develop the allergy following a period of abstinence, such as after pregnancy and childbirth. Sometimes the allergy is even misdiagnosed as another vaginal condition or an STD.

To detect it, determine if you have a burning sensation or swelling with unprotected intercourse, but not with condoms.

Another option for allergic women is simply to use condoms -- obviously not the treatment of choice for couples trying to get pregnant.

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