Are you sick of mediocre man sex? In love with your econ TF? Worried corona has killed your love life? You’re in luck! WKND’s own anonymous love guru is here with a new biweekly column to answer your questions about all things sex, romance, and relationships at Yale. Whether you’re pining over your ex or fed up with a clingy FWB, she’s probably been in your shoes before and is ready to help. Don’t be shy: submit your questions here.
“I keep getting a rash whenever my boyfriend finishes on my face. I know you’re not a doctor, but what should I do?”
My editors told me that this week’s issue is Halloween-themed and I’m responding to this question because — no offense — this is a pretty spooky situation.
First off, I’m very sorry that you’re dealing with these rashes. As someone who’s had lots of skin problems myself, I know how frustrating it can be to have your skin rebel against you. I’m not a doctor but, according to a Yale School of Medicine dermatology professor I asked on your behalf, it sounds like you might be experiencing a semen contact allergy.
Quick sex ed recap (or lesson, if you had a shit sex education like me): Semen is made up of sperm cells. That’s what fertilizes an egg during conception. Semen also contains various bodily secretions, including prostatic fluid and seminal fluid, the latter of which contains proteins and nutrients that nourish the sperm. Those pesky proteins are probably what’s causing the rashes on your face. Don’t worry, though — you’re not alone! Approximately 20,000 to 40,000 women in the U.S. (and likely many more people of all genders) are affected by semen allergies. Some people react with itchy rashes or even vaginal swelling and soreness, and the condition is often misdiagnosed as a more common infection like a UTI.
Ah look at me, burying the lede. STOP LETTING YOUR BOYFRIEND FINISH ON YOUR FACE. I try to avoid giving forceful advice in this column, but clearly your body is trying to tell you something here. The dermatology prof told me that a sperm allergy can result in localized reactions and sometimes has systemic side effects. “Bottom line — I think it’s important that [they] see a dermatologist to confirm the diagnosis and for treatment,” she said. “If this is semen contact allergy, the dermatologist may involve an allergist for testing and/or desensitization.”
If these rashes are painful or even uncomfortable, I highly recommend you see a dermatologist to get a professional opinion. There might be a serious infection or underlying condition there. Regardless, you deserve a better quality of life than one plagued by frequent facial rashes.
Aside from this unfortunate physical sensation, there’s another concerning dynamic I want to address based on your question. It sounds like your boyfriend either doesn’t know about your rashes or still continues to ejaculate on your face despite them. If you’ve told him about the rashes, then it’s unacceptable for him to keep finishing on your face. And if you haven’t, then I suggest you evaluate how you both are communicating as a couple and then initiate a conversation. Do you enjoy having him ejaculate on your face? I can’t imagine it’s pleasant to have a cum glacier land on your forehead when you’re thinking about the rash that’s going to appear in a couple of hours.
If it wasn’t clear already, I’m not a medical professional. And while I don’t have an MD, I still have some insights of my own to offer about semen.
I first encountered semen when I was 17 and suffering from an extreme lack of sex education. Sure, I knew it was involved in causing pregnancy, but I didn’t quite realize as I was giving my boyfriend a handjob that something would … emerge. That formative night, a thought entered my mind about how tired my wrist was, and next thing I knew, a warm glue-like substance had erupted onto my right hand. What occurred next was not my proudest moment, but he gave me no warning! I let out a squeaky shriek and ran furiously to the bathroom to wash off my hands. The next morning, we woke to a large, cloud-shaped, pale yellow stain on the white bed sheet.
Semen is a ubiquitous part of hookups involving dicks. And yet, we as a society are so terrible at dealing with it! This discussion has reminded me of some unpleasant experiences I’ve had with men at Yale who had unfathomably immature and selfish opinions about ejaculation. Once, someone asked me if I was allowed to swallow cum as a vegetarian and, before I could answer, started musing about its high protein content. (Please stick to protein powder in the future.) The guy didn’t even wait to hear my response.* Another man at Yale asked me to swallow so he wouldn’t have to wash his sheets later — a lazy host, if you ask me.
Bottom line: If you have a body that can ejaculate, please for the love of God, ask before releasing your saltine-flavored gift onto an unassuming partner. Plan ahead (tissue boxes are on sale at Walgreens this week) and ask ahead (“spit or swallow?”). Sure, it’s not sexy to bring up ejaculation mid-hookup, but neither is running to the communal bathroom to wash semen off your chest after your one night stand finishes in the wrong direction. (What’s the point of being a D1 athlete if you can’t even aim?)
When it comes to cum, just remember the three C’s.
Consent: Of course. No exceptions.
Communication: If you’re concerned about a semen allergy, tell your partner! If you need a glass of water after swallowing, don’t be shy — ask for a glass of water! If you’re uncomfortable spitting or swallowing, don’t be afraid to ask your partner to finish elsewhere. (Again, tissues are on sale!) These things might seem obvious, but clear communication is what sets a bad or mediocre hookup apart from a great one. Sex will always be messy and that’s part of the fun, but you have to be on the same page as your partner about boundaries for it to be mutually enjoyable.
Cold water: High temperatures will make the proteins in the semen coagulate and make the stain impossible to remove. Trust me.
*Personally, I’m a fan of swallowing myself. As my predecessor famously wrote in the YDN in 2001, “Swallowing is like taking cough syrup. Sure it’s a little painful at first, but eventually the taste will go away, and it’s pure lovin’ from then on.”
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