AOL Health had the opportunity to talk to Julie about her painful condition and how it has affected her marriage, her life and her chances of becoming pregnant.
AOL Health: What’s the clinical name of your condition and when did you realize that you had it?
Julie Boyde: It’s called human seminal plasma hypersensitivity [an allergy to the proteins in semen]. I discovered that I had it on my wedding night. At first, I didn’t really know what was happening. It was kind of scary. I thought maybe I had an infection. There was just this horrible painful feeling — I felt like I had needles inside of me. It was also burning. It happened right after intercourse. My husband was scared because he didn’t know what was happening either. I ran into the bathroom and I jumped in the shower, trying to get the pain to go away.
AOL Health: Is the allergic reaction connected to whether you have a climax?
Boyde: Yes. That’s usually when it happens.
AOL Health: So is sex pleasurable up until the point of climax?
Boyde: Yes, but I would worry. Sometimes, I would have a bad reaction, and other times, it wouldn’t be so bad. So I was always thinking, I wonder how bad it’s going to be this time?
AOL Health: People with human seminal plasma hypersensitivity can be allergic to all semen or the unique proteins in just one individual’s. In the documentary, you said that you and your husband always used condoms before you were married. Had you ever had unprotected sex with anyone else?
Boyde: Never. So we don’t know if my allergy is just with my husband.
AOL Health: How long does the pain usually last?
Boyde: The pain usually lasts a full 24 hours. On a scale of one to 10, it’s probably an eight or nine. For a few days after intercourse, it starts to feel like a yeast infection. It’s really itchy and really red. It actually blisters inside. That’s the painful part — when the blisters become open sores. As the blisters are healing, that’s when it becomes itchy.
AOL Health: Didn’t your doctor misdiagnose you with a yeast infection?
Boyde: Yes. I never made it to the doctor on the same day that the allergic reaction happened, so the doctor would always see it as it’s healing, when it’s red and itchy.
AOL Health: Did you suspect that it was more than an infection?
Boyde: Yes. After it happened so many times, I thought, It can’t be the same thing over and over again. Once it had been happening for awhile, I finally felt comfortable enough to talk to my friends about it. It kind of started off as a joke with my friends, who said, “Maybe you’re allergic to him!” None of us thought that was really possible, but I went home that night and did a little research online. The more I read up on it, I realized it was possible. I thought, Oh my God, those are all my symptoms exactly!
AOL Health: So after your wedding night, did you consider going back to using condoms?
Boyde: No, because we wanted to have a baby. So for a whole year, I put up with the pain. We were having intercourse a couple of times a week, depending on how bad the reactions were. When I had a reaction, it made it difficult to have intercourse again for at least a couple of days after that