Some people can have a systemic response that involves trouble with breathing, hives and swelling. “But we haven't had any fatalities that we're aware of with this condition,” says Bernstein. “Deaths are more likely to occur as the result of a classic anaphylactic response.” And some people can have both localized and systemic responses.
Symptoms can last from hours to days, and they typically start within 20 to 30 minutes after contact.
What in semen are people allergic to?
People are allergic to proteins in semen. “We don't really know which proteins are responsible at this point,” says Bernstein. Many of the proteins associated with the semen allergy are believed to be common proteins found in all semen, but it's also possible for people to be allergic to a protein that is unique to an individual.
The systemic reaction is believed to be linked to a specific antibody that is triggered by the protein and is similar to what occurs in people who have seasonal allergies. There are probably multiple causes of the localized reaction. A delayed type of hypersensitivity response similar to what occurs with poison ivy may be involved.
Is this allergy often misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed?
Most women typically visit urologists and their gynecologist for localized symptoms. Unless the doctor is astute and takes a thorough history, it can be overlooked.