Are Allergies Cramping Your Sex Life?
Nasal allergies may make you feel anything but romantic. Here's how to get back in the mood.
Time to Medicate continued...
Some over-the-counter medications can also have undesired effects on your
sex life. Anneliese Curtis Place, a 42-year-old writer from Santa Barbara,
Calif., has had hay fever for at least 15 years, and regularly took allergy
medications like Benadryl and Sudafed to manage her symptoms. She had never
made the connection between allergies and a diminished interest in sex until an
acquaintance made mention of it.
"A friend's sister asked [a group of us] if we realized that these
medications dry out more than just sinuses," Curtis Place said, referring to vaginal dryness. That's when it
clicked for her. "You don't feel like having sex if you have a runny nose, or
feel like you have a head cold," she said. "Then once that's cleared up and
you're trying to have sex and it's painful, it's a real killer on the
Benninger says that antihistamines can be drying and sedating. Those effects
may help calm some of your allergy symptoms, but they
won't do much for your sex life.
"Benadryl makes you feel fatigued and Sudafed makes you feel wired. There
are other options you can use to treat people that can [address] those symptoms
without the adverse side effects of some of the over-the-counter
For a nonsedating over-the-counter antihistamine, medications such as
Claritin can be fairly effective for many people, Benninger says, adding that
if you're really congested, a little bit of Afrin spray works well. Just don't
use it on a routine basis - no more than a few nights a week - to avoid
building up a tolerance to the medication.
There are many prescription medications that effectively manage symptoms
that won't put you to sleep or dry you out. A host of prescription
antihistamines and nasal sprays are available, which are effective at
decreasing nasal symptoms, as well as some of the eye symptoms associated with
allergies. Products such as Flonase, Nasonex, Nasacort, and Rhinacort are all
fairly comparable in effectiveness in reducing congestion, sneezing, itching,
and watery eyes, Benninger notes. There are also anti-allergy eye drops
available, which treat both seasonal and year-round allergies.
"If symptoms are bad enough, there is immunotherapy, which is [allergy]
shots," Benninger says.
Also in the works is sublingual therapy, which involves placing the antigen
(antibody generator) under the tongue. "You won't need shots anymore. You put
the antigen under the tongue and you will be able to do it at home," Benninger
says. He predicts that within the next two years or so, allergy shots will no
longer be needed because of the availability of sublingual therapy.
Allergy sufferers can take additional steps to reduce the level of allergens
from their immediate environment.
"You can focus treatment on the amount of allergy load, or the exposure to
the allergy, and limit it," Benninger says. "If you're allergic to dust, you can [remove] carpets, and use
filters. You're better off with blinds than curtains."
In addition, treatments that help to clear out the nose are helpful. Sinus
rinses, including Neti pots, or just a homemade mixture of salt and water that
can be used to clear the nasal passages can be very helpful in relieving
Bottom line: "Allergies are 100% treatable with the right combination of
prevention, environmental modification, medication, or allergy shots. If you do
all three, people for the most part, do very well with allergies," Bassett
says. "With proper treatment, we can help people feel better and look
That's not just good news for your allergies, but for your sex life as