These are the 6 signs that you might be allergic to sex
I thought people that are allergic to peanuts have it rough, but it turns out there's something even worse - being allergic to sex. It sounds like a joke, but according to clinical sexologist Lindsay Doe, it's a thing. In a new episode of her YouTube series, Sexplanations, she 'sexplains' that an allergy is a damaging immune response brought on by something in the environment. And when you and your partner are going to Bonetown, to use the technical term, there are factors in that environment (like lube, latex, fluids) that could trigger an abnormal response.
Allergic reactions to sex may be difficult to detect because symptoms like sweating, heavy breathing and a fast heartbeat are normal side effects to passionate lovemaking. However, in the video, Lindsay lists some key symptoms to watch out for: wheezing, itching, watery eyes, runny nose, hives, vaginal burning, swelling, blistering, chest tightness, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of consciousness.
Here are six signs that you might be allergic to sex.
1. You experience burning or itching after you use a condom
Many people are allergic to latex, which is one of the main materials in condoms and sex toys. The most common signs you could be allergic are vaginal irritation, itching and burning. Fortunately, this is an easy problem to diagnose and circumvent. The allergic symptoms to latex wear off after a couple days. The next time you engage in sexual intercourse, try a non-latex condom, and see if you experience the same negative side effects. If it turns out you are allergic to latex, you can simply switch to using non-latex products exclusively.
2. You feel irritation after trying a new lube
Just like condoms, lubricants have ingredients that may trigger allergic reactions, and the packaging may not list what these ingredients are. "Lubes that advertised flavors, cooling or heating sensations and numbing can have any number of additives your system may not like," says Lindsay. She says possible irritants include pain reducers benzocaine and lidocaine, L-Arginine to boost arousal, preservative nitrosamines or 'sperm-killer' nonoxynol-9. Also, glycerin is particularly dangerous because it could convert to sugar and cause a yeast infection.
3. You feel sick after an orgasm
If you're a man, you may suffer from post-orgasmic illness syndrome (POIS), which is a bad reaction to your own semen. After you finish, you feel flu-like symptoms, rendering you weak, feverish and irritable. "Researchers who’ve studied POIS aren’t all in agreement," says Lindsay. "But many of them believe that the cause is semen – that those affected are allergic to their own semen."
4. You sleep with someone new and experience allergy symptoms
There is a condition called seminal plasma hypersensitivity, in which you are allergic to someone else's semen. "A protein in the fluid triggers an allergic reaction, usually pain and burning," explains Linsday. Other side effects include hives, swelling, chest tightness, wheezing, dizziness, diarrhea and loss of consciousness. If you suffer from SPH, you could consult a doctor and use a condom to avoid contact.
5. You develop symptoms after switching birth control methods
It's unlikely you're going to be allergic to birth control hormones, since they're similar to the hormones in your body. However, there are several other ingredients in birth control methods that could trigger an allergic response: the binding or dyes in pills, adhesive in Ortho Evra patching, liquid in birth control shost, barium sulfate in Nexplanon implantsand ethylene-vinyl acetate in the NuvaRing.
"A good starting point for your own investigation [into your allergy] is logging what happens," says Lindsay. "What are your symptoms and what happened that is the same or different than the days without an allergic reaction."
6. You experience discomfort after a traumatic event
If you're having sexual intercourse, and you experience pain or discomfort, it could be a physiological response to something psychological caused by physical or emotional problems.
"For example, abuse in the relationship shame around sexuality or the lack of trust in one's partner might correspond with an inflammation or a rash like any other allergy," says Lindsay. "Like any other allergy, the immune system is doing its best to signal something is wrong."
Of course, it's possible that allergic symptoms felt during sex could be triggered by what you did beforehand - a meal you ate, a type of soap you used, the meds you took, etc. So, when you launch your allergy investigation, be sure to keep that in mind.
Now that you know the signs, you can take precautions to avoid the negative side effects.