Sex & Allergies: Can You Be Allergic To Sex?
Have you ever thought that you were allergic to your partner (or their privates)? There are a surprising number of foreign substances you may be exposed to during sex that the body may have an allergic reaction to. Sex-related allergies are real, and if you are allergic to seminal fluid, latex, or even chemicals used in feminine hygiene products, you likely already know this.
Seminal Fluid (Semen) Allergy
A seminal fluid allergy (an allergy to male ejaculate) is also referred to as semen or sperm allergy in layman’s terms. For women, allergic reactions to seminal fluid can result in swelling of tissues that come in contact with the fluid, and may even result in an outbreak of hives in the area. The cause of allergic reactions to semen is reported to be certain glycoproteins in the seminal plasma. Seminal fluid allergies have been linked to infertility in women, so it important to get tested for a seminal fluid allergy if you are having difficulty conceiving and are also experiencing swelling or hives during or after sex.
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Latex Allergies and Sex
Latex allergies are especially dangerous, as this allergy worsens the more an individual is exposed to it. Latex is not an uncommon allergy, and this material is commonly used in prophylactics, like most condoms or dental dams. Latex also is the material some sex toys are made out of.
There are four ways that latex allergies can be transmitted, three of which can easily occur during sex:
- Through the skin, like when wearing latex gloves, condoms or using dental dams.
- Through mucous membranes, as in when a condom, latex sex toy or dental dam is inserted into or comes into contact with the vagina, rectum or mouth.
- Through the blood, which could occur if there is bleeding involved during sex while a condom is in use.
- Through inhalation, which can occur when latex rubber gloves and other items may contain a powder on them are breathed in.
Symptoms of a latex allergy:
- Common latex reactions can result in the following symptoms:
- Itching, burning skin
- Skin dryness
- Lesions on the skin
More severe allergic reactions to latex, called immediate allergic reactions, are rare, but dangerous. Their symptoms can progress to include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Low blood pressure
- Anaphylactic shock, or can even lead to death
While we at STDcheck.com cannot weigh in on which condoms feel the best, we can weigh in on which condoms prevent both pregnancy and STDs the best and are designed to feel the best compared to the other alternatives:
Best type of condoms to use if you have a latex allergy
Polyurethane condoms may be slightly more expensive than latex condoms, but there is no risk of having an allergic reaction to them because they are made of a thin, nonporous plastic. Polyurethane condoms are thinner than latex condoms and are said to have a less-constricting fit and feel for the wearer. These condoms are FDA-approved for both pregnancy prevention and STD prevention, but can be more prone to breakage during rough sexual activity in comparison to latex; however, unlike latex, polyurethane condoms will not break down when exposed to oil-based lubricants.
Condoms to avoid
Obviously, avoid latex condoms if you or your partner is allergic to this allergen. It is also wise to avoid natural condoms, like lambskin condoms which are made out of lamb or sheep intestines. Natural condoms are able to prevent pregnancy since sperm is too large to pass through pores in these condoms, but bacteria and viruses are not, so STDs can still be contracted or spread while natural condoms are in use.
More sex-related allergies
Additional sex-related allergies can include being allergic to chemicals in lubricants (lubes) or even feminine hygiene products, like tampons. It isn’t mandatory for manufacturers of feminine hygiene products to list the ingredients in these products, so many companies don’t. It is not uncommon for tampons and sanitary pads to contain chlorine (used to bleach these products so they are white), pesticides, fragrances, and other chemicals– all of which are terrifyingly easy for vaginal tissue to absorb. These substances can all easily irritate the vagina and vulva.
It’s important to know what you may be allergic to during sex, not just in terms of avoiding the potentially painful allergic reactions, but also because sex is a normal part of life. Sex needs to be comfortable and healthy for both partners. If you happen to have a seminal fluid allergy and are trying to get pregnant, it could very well be the cause of not being able to conceive. It is important to know so that you can talk to your doctor about your options. You can find alternatives to latex condoms, polyurethane condoms can be used instead.
Medically Reviewed by J. Frank Martin JR., MD on August 16, 2023
Author: Nick Corlis
Nick Corlis is a writer, marketer, and designer. He graduated from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, with a degree in Digital Communications. Nick is proud to be able to help eliminate the stigma of STD testing through his writing and is always trying to advocate the importance of your sexual health. Before STDcheck, his favorite way to develop his writing skills was by accepting various writing jobs in college and maintaining multiple blogs. Nick wears many hats here at STDcheck, but specifically enjoys writing accurate, well-researched content that is not only informative and relatable but sometimes also contains memes. When not writing, Nick likes to race cars and go-karts, eat Japanese food, and play games on his computer.