Obstetrics and gynecology

Is burning semen syndrome a variant form of seminal plasma hypersensitivity?

PMID 12517652


To identify an index population of Gulf War couples with burning semen syndrome and to determine whether burning semen syndrome was secondary to seminal plasma hypersensitivity. Questionnaire surveys, screening laboratory testing for underlying medical disorders, including sexually transmitted diseases and immunoglobulin G and E immunoassays specific for seminal plasma protein, were performed. If subjects met the criteria for seminal plasma hypersensitivity, the Gulf War male veteran's seminal plasma proteins were used to desensitize his female sexual partner. Eighty-nine percent (188 of 211) of respondents had either personally experienced burning after contact with their own semen or had a sexual partner who had burning after contact with their semen. Asymptomatic female partners (three of five) of Gulf War veterans who exhibited specific immunoglobulin E skin and antibody responses to seminal plasma proteins responded successfully to rapid desensitization. Treatment results were confirmed by a provocative office challenge, consisting of instillation of whole seminal fluid into the female's vaginal vault and, if negative, subsequently by natural coitus. The results of this study indicate that seminal plasma hypersensitivity may present as burning semen syndrome in a subpopulation of Gulf War couples. Proper screening of Gulf War couples with clinical features of burning semen syndrome should include assessment for seminal plasma hypersensitivity reactions, as seminal plasma protein desensitization may induce remission of burning semen syndrome.