Ask the Expert: A Woman Allergic to Her Husband?
Seminal plasma hypersensitivity (SPH) is an "underrecognized women's health issue," which can be defined as "a variety of systemic and/or localized clinical symptoms after exposure to specific protein compounds in seminal fluid."1
While the prevalence and incidence of SPH is unknown,1 it is possible that as many as 20,000 to 40,000 American women could potentially have this condition.2,3 Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is believed to be the major allergen, but other seminal proteins may be involved, as well.1
Jonathan A. Bernstein, MD, Professor of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Immunology/Allergy Section, and Director of Clinical Research, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio, a leading expert in research and management of SPH, discusses a case of a patient with this condition.
Ms. C, a 29-year-old woman, presents to her physician with severe pain, redness, and burning after first-time unprotected intercourse with her husband. The symptoms occurred within minutes of intercourse and have continued for several days. The couple had been using condoms since the onset of their relationship five years ago, but discontinued because they wanted to conceive.
Ms. C's physician assumes that she has contracted a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Ms. C and her husband are upset, as both have been monogamous and each had been tested for STDs before they started dating.