Seminal plasma hypersensitivity reactions: an updated review

Mt Sinai J Med. 2011 Sep-Oct;78(5):803-9. doi: 10.1002/msj.20283.


Seminal plasma hypersensitivity manifests as a spectrum of systemic and/or localized clinical symptoms after exposure to specific protein components in seminal fluid. The prevalence of this disease is largely unknown, but it is believed to affect up to 40,000 women in the United States. Although no definitive risk factors have been confirmed, women with systemic reactions are frequently atopic. Prostate-specific antigen is believed to be the major allergen involved in the disorder, but other proteins are likely involved. Interestingly, up to 40%-50% of both systemic and localized seminal plasma hypersensitivity cases can occur after first-time intercourse. Diagnosis is based on clinical history. The gold standard for diagnosing seminal plasma hypersensitivity is prevention of symptoms with the use of a condom. Patients with seminal plasma hypersensitivity demonstrate positive prick skin test and/or serum-specific immunoglobulin E to whole seminal fluid or fractionated seminal plasma proteins. Treatment of seminal plasma hypersensitivity involves either avoidance with the use of condoms, intravaginal graded challenge using dilutions of whole seminal fluid, or subcutaneous desensitization to relevant fractionated seminal plasma proteins obtained from the woman's sexual partner. In most cases, treatment using one or more of the above approaches has been very successful. Infertility has not been demonstrated to be directly related to seminal plasma hypersensitivity, although women with the condition frequently have difficulty conceiving due to their inability to have unprotected sexual intercourse.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Desensitization, Immunologic
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / diagnosis*
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / etiology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / prevention & control
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / therapy
  • Male
  • Semen / immunology*
  • Seminal Plasma Proteins / immunology


  • Seminal Plasma Proteins