Semen Allergy

Is it possible to be allergic to semen?

Like just about any other substance, it is possible to be allergic to semen. An allergic reaction is the result of the immune system overreacting to a foreign substance. The immune system recognizes the presence of something that is not part of the body, and it rushes to the location where the unfamiliar material is detected. The host cells try to contain the substance, called an antigen. These cells are alerted to the presence of intruders by recognizing unusual structures on the surface of the foreign material, such as sugars or proteins. The host cells send out proteins, called antibodies, which bind to the "non-self" material, and the whole deal is engulfed inside yet another immune system cell. However, antibody-antigen complexes may build up in tissue, cause it to become inflamed, and bingo! You have an allergic reaction.

Thus, one's body may react aversely to semen, since the stuff is virtually a soup of different substances. In addition to the sperm cells, semen contains a lineup of "helpers" that boost the swimmers' chances of fertilizing the egg, and any one of them could be the culprit.

Some of these substances include fructose, a kind of sugar that provides the sperm with energy, clotting agents that increase the chances that the sperm will stay in the vagina long enough to begin their trek in search of an egg, and prostaglandins, which stimulate the muscles surrounding the vagina to contract and draw semen upwards. Since any one of these may be identified by the immune system as being a foreign agent, one could easily have an allergy to semen.

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