Darling, you make me ... break out in hives?
July 10, 2012 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Am I, er, allergic to my boyfriend?

Hey y'all,

Well, I can't believe I'm asking the Internets about this, but here goes:

This past Sunday morning, the boy and I were fooling around, and he came all over me - specifically, my shoulders and breasts. (This is something we both find sexy, and something we have done many many times before. Just in case that is important.)
Afterwards, suddenly - and I mean within 15 minutes or so - the exact spots where the, er, semen had splashed on me suddenly turned bright red. And then into a rash. And then my shoulder started swelling up. All of these things screamed allergic reaction to me, as strange as that seemed.
When it seemed clear that I was not going into shock or anything like that, we went over to the nearby pharmacy (and I mean real, family-owned pharmacy - I ask these guys anything and they give good advice). They reassured me, handed me antihistamines and hydrocortisone cream, and sent me on my way. Days later, the rash is gone and my shoulder is basically normal, albeit still a little red and itchy.
Guys, is it possible to have such an extreme, systemic reaction to semen splashing on me, especially when I have been exposed many many times in the last two years? I had not eaten, showered, or taken any kind of medicine yet that morning, so other culprits seem less likely. Does this necessitate a doctor's visit? Does anyone at all have any experience with this? We are both totally confused.
Thanks, y'all.
posted by bookgirl18 to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)

I am so far from a doctor you can't see doctors from me.

One time, if you've been doing this for years, doesn't seem enough to draw any conclusions from. I believe that some chemicals work their way through the body into the semen (pineapple juice being the famous example), so it's possible your boyfriend ate something that worked its way through his system and caused the reaction.

I'd check if he ate anything you have a known allergic reaction to recently as a starting point.
posted by bswinburn at 8:18 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

Semen allergies are rare but not unheard of.
posted by desjardins at 8:19 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is a pretty classic description of a semen allergy. Yep, you can be fine for years, then all of a sudden have what's called a delayed hypersensitivity reaction. The allergy is caused by protein in the semen, but nobody's really sure which ones.

There are treatments available; it's time to give your doctor a ring, and possibly see an allergist.
posted by Specklet at 8:24 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

I have a different version, but you have my condolences-- semen allergies suck. (No, not like that. Obviously.)

I was sexually active for some years before I started having this problem, so, yes, it can show up suddenly. My reaction is delayed by 24-48 hours (which made figuring out what it was pretty difficult), so this solution may not work for you, but I find that rinsing immediately after, erm, exposure keeps me from flareups.

Hopefully, though, this is just a random freak occurrence for you due to something environmental. I have no earthly clue whether something your gentleman friend ate could cause such a reaction, or something which had just sensitized your skin. But I hope for your sake it is something more along those lines. Because, as I said, semen allergies suck.
posted by Because at 8:58 PM on July 10, 2012

Supposedly brazil nuts can be sexually transmitted... are you allergic to nuts?
posted by 0127661 at 9:20 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had this once (perhaps milder than you) but it never happened again. I'd wait for another occurrence before freaking out.
posted by jacalata at 9:21 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ugh, I get this too, but only sometimes. I have already-known-to-be-sensitive skin, however. It might be a thing you just get sometimes for no reason which just goes away on its own, so don't yet despair.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:05 AM on July 11, 2012

Yep, this can happen. It sounds just like an allergic reaction. See a doctor if you like but I don't think it's necessary. You might not react every time. While you may not react every time, I have one piece of advice now that you have had a reaction: Don't risk getting it in your eyes.
posted by Polychrome at 2:46 AM on July 11, 2012

Yeah, it's not necessarily you - it could have been something in his semen at the time.
posted by heyjude at 3:03 AM on July 11, 2012

Its doctor time, your primary care physician will likely refer you to an allergist who can test you to see how allergic you are, and then you'll be able to make safer sex decisions from there.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:08 AM on July 11, 2012

Weirdly enough I have had this reaction to only one male partner's semen (but I had it multiple times with him). It was years ago and once he and I split up I've never had it again.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:35 AM on July 11, 2012

Response by poster: How crazy, but clearly semen allergies are a real thing. i guess we will have to be more cautious, and perhaps I will get a medical opinion, especially if it happens again. Thanks, guys.
posted by bookgirl18 at 8:05 PM on July 12, 2012

If you do have celiac disease and have taken acid suppressing medication for stomach ulcers (or merely have had ulcers, since that can sometimes cause the stomach to reduce its acidity) and have been performing oral sex on your boyfriend, there is a good chance your boyfriend's semen could have come into contact with your immune system in a way that would cause this reaction.

That's because stomach acid processes proteins in a way that makes them less immunogenic, and celiac disease causes the small intestine to become leaky so that its contents can come into direct contact with the bloodstream.
posted by jamjam at 5:14 PM on July 13, 2012

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