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What Is Human Seminal Plasma Allergy (HSPA)?


Updated August 10, 2009

What Is Human Seminal Plasma Allergy (HSPA)?


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Question: What Is Human Seminal Plasma Allergy (HSPA)?

Human seminal plasma allergy (HSPA), or an allergy to semen, is a rare occurrence in women. It is generally caused by an immunologic reaction via IgE to proteins in the semen. Symptoms can occur during or after sex.

HSPA Symptoms

Symptoms can range from local irritation such as itching or be as severe as life-threatening anaphylaxis. Symptoms can be either localized or systemic. Systemic symptoms can include:

  • Pruritus, or itching
  • Urticaria, or hives
  • Angioedema, or a swelling of the lips, face, or genital areas
  • Chest tightness
  • Breathlessness
  • Wheezing
  • Cough
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Sneezing
  • Rhinorrhea, or runny nose
  • Dizziness

Local symptoms can include:

  • Itching in the genital region
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Burning
  • Pain

Many patients state symptoms gradually worsen over several hours, which then decreases even without treatment.

HSPA Treatment

Several options are available for treatment. They include:

  • Desensitization: A process by which you are progressively exposed to higher concentrations of your partners semen in an attempt to stop your body from developing an immunologic reaction to it.
  • Antihistamines: Taking antihistamines and using intravaginal cromolyn 8% cream before sex may prevent you from developing symptoms. Unfortunately, this method seems to work for only a small number of women.
  • Barrier methods: Using condoms prevents the semen from starting the local reaction and coitus interruptus, or withdrawing before ejaculation, have been successfully used.
While there are no long term studies of HPSA, many women remain anxious over their ability to conceive and over the lack of spontaneity this condition places on their sex life.


Lee-Wong L, Collins JS, Nozad C, Resnick DJ. Diagnosis and Treatment of Human Seminal Plasma Hypersensitivity. Obstetrics and Gynecology. Volume 111(2, Part 2), February 2008, pp 538-539.

Ashok S. Asthma and Sex. The Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences. Volume 43. 2001. pp135-137

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