Help! I’m allergic to semen! Surviving human seminal plasma hypersensitivity

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Male Female Sex Issues

People are allergic to all sorts of things – food, chemicals, essential oils…but how on earth do you cope when you are allergic to your husband’s semen?! Leonie Blackwell has had to deal with this heartbreaking, physically painful and potential life-threatening syndrome. Here is her story of strength and courage…

My body is meant to keep up with me, at least that’s what I thought in my youth. I should be able to do anything, party all night, eat what I want, and drink what I want, after all I was at that the stage of invincibility at the time. But they weren’t the only absolutes I lived by.

I thought marriage was forever, and the goals I set and worked hard at would all be achieved. I mean, I was dedicated to being everything I dreamed to be. At fifteen I had my life planned out and I spent the next six years working on ticking off every goal along the way.

Then life stepped in and took me on another journey. We all have them – those defining moments in our lives.

While you’d think being diagnosed with human seminal plasma hypersensitivity would have been my defining moment, and on some level it is a pivotal point in my life, the truly defining moments are the choices I made before and after that diagnoses.

According to medical statistics, human seminal plasma hypersensitivity is suffered by up to 40% of woman. That sounds like a lot of women, but the one illness includes two aspects – one is what I had and the other is an allergy reaction between a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm. This one is a common cause of infertility and may be rectified with IVF treatment. The couple have no sexual problems.

The fertilisation of my egg and my husband’s sperm was not in question. Our challenge was the reaction I experienced after the climax of sexual pleasure. It turned out to not be so pleasurable.

Normal symptoms include burning, swelling, irritation and pain, I had them all. More severe symptoms include difficulty breathing and anaphylactic responses. By the end, I experienced anaphylactic responses to Simon’s (name changed to protect his identity) semen.

At the age of 23 when it began, I had no idea what was happening to me, and months of returning to my medical doctor didn’t shed any light on the matter. Eventually I saw a gynaecologist who said I had cervical dysplasia and he cauterised the cells to stop them from shedding away. The pain, burning and swelling didn’t stop though.

When the doctors had no answers or explanations for me they concluded it was all in my head.

This was one of those moments where I could have accepted their perspective and I could have given up. Honestly I’m not sure there was a conscious decision made at the time; I just couldn’t accept that it was a figment of my imagination and that there was no explanation.

I realised that I was the only person who was going to find the answer and so began my research and the finding of answers.

Naively, I thought once I had the answer the doctors would respond enthusiastically and proceed to find a solution. Over a two year period of time I saw seven medical doctors and the final gynaecologist provided the confirmation and diagnosis of an allergy to semen.

I was relieved because it proved it wasn’t all in my head, but I was quickly gutted when he said there was no treatment available and that ‘I would have to learn to live like this’. Today an allergist can test a man’s semen and identify specifically which human proteins the woman is reacting to. They then desensitise her.

A work colleague suggested that I try a naturopath, and not knowing anything about natural therapies I asked her, ‘what could they do if a doctor couldn’t help me?’ Her words that hit me the strongest were, ‘what have you got to lose?’ With my marriage dissolving, my heart feeling totally broken and my health deteriorating, the answer was simple – ‘nothing.’

As the saying goes: ‘the rest is history’, I did go to see a naturopath and there were no miracle cures. There was a long journey of healing physically, mentally and emotionally. Predominately I used nutritional supplements, flower essences and homoeopathic remedies to cleanse, heal and rebuild my body.

It was the product, Reiishi mushroom extract, that finally switched off my autoimmune system from thinking semen was a foreign invader that had to be attacked.

It was eight years after the diagnosis and beginning to see a naturopath, and ten years on from the first allergic reaction.

In that time I studied and became a naturopath myself. I have learnt first-hand the value of good health and that the mind, body and spirit must work together in harmony and respect, for us to achieve our dreams.

My drive to make sense of what was unexplainable at the time, has become the hallmark of my style of complementary medicine. It also led me to write Making Sense of the Insensible: The Ten Injustices of Our Life Lessons.

We can’t fix that which we do not understand and are not aware of. Finding answers sets us free and empowers us to be in charge of our personal growth, by consciously making choices and taking responsibility for all of who we are right now, and have the potential to be. That is a worthy journey to embark on in life.

Leonie BlackwellLeonie Blackwell has been running her naturopathic business since 1994, providing a service to more than two thousand clients, and teaching hundreds through her accredited practitioner courses and innovative personal development workshops.
She has created a world-first app: Tap Bullies Away, helping people recover from the negative effects of being bullied.
Leonie’s first book, Making Sense of the Insensible: The Ten Injustices of Our Life Lessons, explores how injustices occur in our childhood, our adulthood or throughout our lives as recurring themes and what the intentions, motivation and needs are underlying these experiences.
She also writes a blog at


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