Skip to main content

Is this a semen allergy?

Share |
pumpkin asks:

I'm seventeen. My boyfriend and I have been sexually active for five months. We always used condoms, and sex was great. We used lube and had tons of foreplay. No complaints. About a month ago, I went on the pill, and suddenly that all changed. The sex itself was better then ever. But after he comes in me, it burns the inside of my vagina like crazy. It only happens when he comes in me. Other things, like fingering or oral, don't hurt me at all. It's JUST when he comes in me.

The pain starts the second he comes, and lasts 15 to 20 minutes. I normally run to the bathroom right after sex, and get as much of the come out as I can, but that doesn't seem to change anything. We still have tons of foreplay, but that doesn't help either. It's making me dread sex because of the pain afterward, and he hates seeing me in so much pain. Is this a sperm allergy? Would douching after sex help? Is there anything I can do about it?

Justin Hancock replies:

I'm not a doctor, but this sounds to me (as you say) like it could be an allergy to semen.

But like I said, I'm not a doctor, and I can't diagnose you over the internet, possibly from thousands of miles away. You say that you are on the pill now, so please consider going back to the healthcare provider that gave you that prescription and ask them about these symptoms. Your healthcare provider is the very best person to help you sort this out.

However, as I'm here, I can give you some information about semen allergies. I'll also give you some solutions that you may want to try and also some other stuff to think about, mmkay?

Semen allergies are relatively rare (though I've come across another case of this very recently) and typically result in symptoms such as burning, itching and swelling in the genital area. This is usually within 30 minutes of ejaculation inside the vagina without condoms but can also occur some time after that. It can sometimes resolve itself after a few years.

It can be that someone is allergic to just one person's semen or allergic to all semen. For more, read this great article by Cory Silverberg here: Semen Allergy.

You mention that you were using condoms, and since not using them, you started to get this burning feeling. Did you start getting this feeling the first time your boyfriend ejaculated inside you? If so, this looks like it could certainly be a semen allergy. If not, it could be something else going on inside your vagina that you should get checked out. As well, if you've ditched condoms since going on the pill without both of you having recent STI screenings first, you'll each want to make sure that's sorted regardless, both to rule out an STI as the root of these symptoms, and to make sure it's sound to be going without condoms just yet.

There are treatments available which can help to desensitise the vagina, which you can talk to your doctor about, including the pros and cons of those treatments, and if they're even relevant for you in this instance.

Douching is not likely to be that practical every time you have sex: plus it's not going to prevent the burning sensation after sex. Wouldn't you rather lie next to your partner and cuddle (or facebook, or whatever young people do after sex) than dash off to the toilet, in pain, to try to wash his semen away? On top of that, douching generally isn't something that's good for vulvo-vaginal health, and is associated with higher rates of bacterial vaginosis. The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, and tends to do best when allowed to do that job all by itself.

If it is a semen allergy, the easiest way to prevent this is just to start using condoms again. They will prevent the semen from coming into contact with the inside of your vagina and thus should prevent these symptoms from recurring. If you or your partner really don't want to use male condoms, you could perhaps use a female condom, which lines the vagina and provides the same kind of protection.

Something else which may help is him withdrawing his penis before he ejaculates. I say may help because this depends on whether he produces much pre-ejaculate (and whether you are allergic to pre-ejaculate, which is a different substance than semen). Also a lot of people find withdrawing the penis before ejaculating a bit difficult (which is why it can be such a crap method of birth control). Your boyfriend might not be able to pull his penis out in time before he starts ejaculating, which may lead to the burning again.

You say that fingering and oral is fine, so you could do that, or you could have other kinds of non-entry or non-genital sex (dry humping for instance). All the stuff that a lot of people call foreplay all counts as hot sex, too. Try not to see it as just something that you do before having sex. For instance, mutual masturbation might not sound that hot, but imagine your naked bodies moving over each other with your hand on his penis and his fingers on your clitoris or in your vagina.

You mention that the sex is better than ever. Good! This might be because you've taken the sensible decision to sort out a really effective method of birth control. This might have made you both more relaxed, which often leads to great sex. This is not going to go away if you use condoms (or withdraw the penis before coming). It also has the great effect of backing up your hormonal birth control and greatly reducing the risk of STIs.

However, if you carry on having sex knowing that it is going to hurt afterwards you're going to start enjoying it less and less.

There's a Tommy Cooper joke: "So I went to the Doctor and I said, 'Doctor it hurts when I do this,' [he raises his elbow] and the Doctor said 'Well, stop doing it then.'" Uh huh huh (that's the noise Tommy Cooper made, look him up. A very funny fella.)

Okay, it's probably not as funny written down, but the point is this - listen to your body: if something is painful, stop doing it.

If whilst waiting for an answer to this question you've continued having ejaculations inside the vagina, that would really concern me. In fact, given the way you've described the pain you're in after sex, this would concern me if you did it more than a couple of times, to be honest.

Being generous and kind enough to do do something for a partner that we know they would like, but isn't necessarily one of our favourite things, is nice. However we really shouldn't do something just to please someone else that is painful, damaging or dangerous.

Just gonna ask you to ask yourself a couple of questions: please don't be offended.

Are you taking part in sex with your boyfriend that you are not totally and enthusiastically consenting to? Are you allowing him to ejaculate inside your vagina, knowing that it is going to hurt you, just to please him? Are you just going through the motions and continuing to have sex because you think it's what couples do?

If the answer to any of these is yes, you may want to think about how healthy your relationship is and how healthy your self-esteem is. Please make sure that your health and well-being are a higher priority than your relationship.

So, in short: Please stop doing things that are hurting. Try out the strategies that I've suggested (especially using condoms). And please go to a healthcare provider to talk about this.

You may find these links might help you out, too:

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.