Woman Discovers She is Allergic to Husband's Sperm After She Marries Him
But one couple was faced with the complete opposite of the honeymoon phase when the bride discovered she was allergic to her husband's sperm.
Clara (not real name), 35, married Jeff without having sex with him first. They wanted to wait until after the big day to make it even more special.
But "special" it was not, as Clara had a severe reaction to him.
"I had this bizarre reaction," Clara said. "I had burning and swelling and redness, which was very unusual. I thought I had contracted an STD."
She went to the gynecologist several times, researched for hours online, but couldn't figure it out. That was, until a doctor told her that she was allergic to her husband's sperm.
"It was a real problem," Jeff said. "Because everything else was great. We were madly in love, but it was a real game-changer for a while. It pretty much dramatically reduced our libido. We really haven't had much sex at all for the last 10 months. The intimacy level drops dramatically - all of a sudden, instead of living with your new wife or husband, you are more like roommates."
Though they loved each other immensely, their marriage was lacking a major component.
"In a normal romantic relationship, you want to feel attractive to your partner and want to do things that make you feel sexy," Clara said.
"I feel like we actually started to define ourselves - minimizing things to avoid sex. I started thinking I wouldn't wear sexy underwear. What seemed like medical problems had bigger effects."
Around 40,000 women in America suffer from it. Called seminal plasma hypersensitivity, the allergy does not affect fertility, but makes the woman extremely uncomfortable during and after sex.
Some women break out in hives, experience abdominal swelling or a reaction they say feels like "a needle sticking in to their vagina."
"The swelling was worst immediately after sex," Clara said. She said she had never experienced it with any of her previous sexual partners. "It would take 24 hours to subside and my skin would be irritated as if you'd put a chemical on it that caused it to burn. It was almost raw and took awhile to heal."
Despite it's devastating effects, the allergy is quite easily treated. It is the diagnosing of it that is difficult, as many doctors confuse it with other infections.
To treat it, doctors isolate proteins in the man's sperm and carry out skin testing on the woman to figure out which proteins cause the reaction. Then, they slowly desensitize the woman to the protein.
Two weeks ago, Clara had the treatment and has reported that her reaction has drastically diminished.
"There was a small amount of swelling, but compared to previous times, it was much less," she said.
"Now I am interested in having sex again."
Jeff said that the treatment was hopeful and changed their marriage.
"On a number of levels, it's been restorative. A whole side of our relationship really suffered. Now it's a whole new world," he said.