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The only thing newlyweds Julie and Mike Boyde wanted was a baby. The couple had already begun planning for a family and started to build a nursery in their Ambridge, Pa., home. But a painful diagnosis shattered their dream of getting pregnant. On their wedding night, they discovered that Julie was allergic to Mike’s semen when they had unprotected sex for the first time.

“Before we were always very careful and, you know, used protection, and that time we didn’t,” Julie Boyde, 26, said. “So, we figured we were married now, so if we got pregnant, we got pregnant.”

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She continues, “Pretty much right after, I knew something was not right because I was in a lot of pain. The pain that I was feeling was inside, kind of like, somebody was sticking needles up inside of me and like a burning, like really painful burning.”

It turns out she suffers from “Seminal Plasma Hypersensitivity.” And she’s not alone, 20,000 to 40,000 women may be diagnosed, as well.

“The body recognizes semen as a foreign protein just as it would recognize a peanut allergen or pollen,” said Dr. Andrew Goldstein, director of the Centers for Vulvovaginal Disorders in Annapolis, Md. “So you have swelling, you have itching, you have inflammation of the nerve endings.”

The Boydes tried a revolutionary new treatment they hoped would allow them to have a baby. And although it proved unsuccessful for them, doctors hope it can help other women who have a similar problem.

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