24 March 2019

A woman just had a near-fatal allergic reaction to penicillin in semen

Doctors urge people to 'be aware' of the risk.

Talk about a mood-killer.

A woman from Alicante, Spain recently suffered a life-threatening allergic reaction to penicillin after having sex with her partner, who was taking a form of the medication.

Seminal transfer of amoxicillin

According to The Daily Mail, the unidentified 31-year-old woman had performed oral sex on her partner, and soon after started to vomit. She struggled to breathe and broke out in hives.

When she went to hospital, doctors realised she was having a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock. According to The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, anaphylaxis can be fatal if not treated.

The Spanish woman told the doctors she was allergic to penicillin but that she hadn't taken the medication. But, it turns out her 32-year-old partner had recently taken amoxicillin, a form of penicillin, to treat an ear infection. As a result, the doctors believe her anaphylaxis was caused by 'seminal transfer of amoxicillin'. The woman had never had this kind of reaction in previous sexual encounters, so her doctors ruled out a semen allergy. But a semen allergy can happen. Really.

Potential risk from oral sex

According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, a semen allergy (also known as seminal plasma hypersensitivity), is a rare allergic reaction to proteins found in semen.

Women who have this rare allergy, often experience redness, swelling, pain, itching, and a burning sensation in the vagina (or mouth, if you're performing oral). The symptoms typically start 10 to 30 minutes after coming into contact with semen. In some women, anaphylaxis can happen.

And it can crop up at any time: Sometimes the allergy is to one partner's sperm, but not another's, or it may happen suddenly with a long-time partner. Crazy is an understatement!

Doctors who treated the 31-year-old have now urged anyone with drug allergies to "be aware" of the potential risk from oral sex. Duly noted, doc.

Read more:

Why do men produce different amounts of semen?

The surprising way to ease allergy symptoms

Meet the woman who makes art out of semen

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.

Image credit: iStock

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Allergy expert

Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies.

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