Dr. Dean

Allergy To Sex: Rare, But Nothing To Sneeze At

Posting Date: 09/16/1999

If you sneeze a lot after sex, it?s probably nothing to worry about. This is because nasal tissue is similar to erectile tissue and swells when you?re having intercourse.

This is a fairly common occurrence because during sex your blood vessels expand. This is what causes your face to become flush. When the mucous glands swell in the nose, it often results in sneezing.

The explanation for this phenomenon comes in a reply to a letter written a few years ago to the Journal of the American Medical Association where a physician talks about a male patient who sneezed repeatedly following coitus.

The sneezing from sexual arousal can be symptomatic of chronic rhinitis ? or nasal allergies that are triggered by other things such as temperature, humidity, odors, and irritants.

In rare occasions, women may be allergic to semen and the sneezing is a signal of a mild or limited anaphylactic reaction. This is a form of systemic reaction ? usually to seminal plasma, and sometimes due to the male having penicillin ? that can result in severe shock or even death in a sensitive female.

There was an amazing piece of research from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine that questioned 1,073 women who reported symptoms consistent with the allergy and found that 12 percent of them met the diagnostic condition for the disorder.

Unfortunately, this sex allergy disorder is not always recognized by gynecologists even though the symptoms are often dramatic. They include wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea, unconsciousness, or complete circulatory collapse. There can also be a localized reaction such as vaginal burning or swelling.

Lead University of Cincinnati researcher Jonathan Bernstein says allergists can usually treat the symptoms of sex allergies with regular injections of purified seminal proteins. Of course, women could also avoid seminal fluids during sex by making sure their partner uses a condom.

If you?re a woman who suddenly finds herself sneezing after sex, have your partner use a condom the next time. If the symptoms don?t recur, it?s possible that you?re allergic to the seminal fluid.

For most of us, however, an erection of the nose that causes sneezing is simply due to changes in the nasal passage during sexual intercourse.

Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, July 15, 1988