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Yes, You Can Have An Allergic Reaction To Semen

Talk about a nut allergy.


Dr. Beccy Corkill


Dr. Beccy Corkill

Custom Content Manager

Beccy is a custom content producer who holds a PhD in Biological Science, a Master’s in Parasites and Disease Vectors, and a Bachelor’s in Human Biology and Forensic Science.

Custom Content Manager

Sample pot

There are two conditions: one where you are allergic to sperm (human seminal hypersensitivity) and one where you are allergic to your own sperm (post-orgasmic illness syndrome). Image credit: RHJPhtotos/

Getting busy in the bedroom may come with some more unexpected risks, one of which is an allergic reaction to semen.

Semen is comprised of many components, including sperm cells themselves (aka spermatozoa), water, lipids, carbohydrates, and salts. So, it may not be a surprise that the human body can have an allergic reaction to this cocktail of different substances. 


One condition is called human seminal hypersensitivity (HSP) and was first reported in 1958 by a Dutch gynecologist called J.L.H. Specken. Since this time, many cases have been reported, usually in people aged 20 to 30 years old.

In 40 to 50 percent of the cases, symptoms can manifest after the first time having intercourse. Although it is underreported, it is thought that up to 40,000 women in the United States could have this condition.  

What are the symptoms of human seminal hypersensitivity?

There are many symptoms of HSP, and they can depend on the severity of the reaction. Symptoms include swelling, itching, burning, redness, and pain in the genital area. It is not thought to be connected to infertility, but if the sexual intercourse causes unpleasant reactions then this in itself could limit the number of sexual encounters a couple may partake in.

To avoid complications, it is recommended that barrier methods like condoms are used during sexual activity, or that the person with the allergy undergoes desensitization therapy.


There are also cases of people being allergic to their own semen. This is called post-orgasmic illness syndrome (POIS). This rare syndrome can cause flu-like symptoms, such as confusion, muscle pain, itchy eyes, and fever. These occur shortly after ejaculation but can last 2-7 days.

This was first described in 2002, in a presentation of two case reports. In 2011, two papers were published in the Journal of Sexual Medicineinvestigating this even further. A skin-prick allergy test was carried out on 33 men who were suspected to have this condition. The results revealed that 29 of the subjects had a reaction that was consistent with an allergy.

Since then, it has been discovered that there are two different types of POIS. Primary POIS is where the symptoms occur from the very first ejaculation, whereas the secondary can develop later in life.

There is no specific treatment for POIS, but people have been treated with antihistamines, tramadol, prednisone, and benzodiazepines. Researchers also carried out hyposensitization therapy in two patients, where their own extremely diluted semen was used, and gradually increased in concentration. This was done by an injection of the solution into an inguinal lymph node.


The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions. 

All “explainer” articles are confirmed by fact checkers to be correct at time of publishing. Text, images, and links may be edited, removed, or added to at a later date to keep information current.


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