Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Allergies Health Center

Font Size

Are Allergies Ruining Your Sex Life?

Don't let symptoms like red eyes and a runny nose ruin your sex life. Fight back with these tips on preventing and treating allergies.
By David Freeman
WebMD Feature

Fifty million Americans have allergies. If you’re one of them, you don’t need anyone to tell you that symptoms like nasal congestion, a runny nose, and red, itchy eyes can be extremely annoying.

But allergies are more than an annoyance. In fact, they can have a major impact on your quality of life. Studies have shown, for instance, that allergies can make it hard to get a good night’s sleep. And the poor concentration and daytime drowsiness that result from allergy-disturbed sleep have been linked to poor job performance in adults and academic problems in children.

Recommended Related to Allergies

Food Allergies: 5 Myths Debunked

Nearly a third of people living in the U.S. believe they have a food allergy, according to a recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association . But only 5% of children and 4% of teens and adults have true food allergies. Why do many people think they have a food allergy when they don't? Experts say it’s because people don’t understand what really constitutes a food allergy and they often misuse the term. “Unfortunately, the term ‘allergy’ is sometimes used by the public...

Read the Food Allergies: 5 Myths Debunked article > >

And now there’s evidence that allergies can put a big dent in your sex life. How big? In a study of 400 people with allergic rhinitis (hay fever), 83% said that allergies affected their sex lives at least occasionally. Seventeen percent said that allergies always or almost always had an effect of their sex lives.

Given the magnitude of the problem, “you start to wonder if all of this affects people’s relationships,” says Michael Benninger, MD, chairman of the Head and Neck Institute at The Cleveland Clinic and one of the study's authors. If allergies are putting a dent in your sex life, here's how to fight back.

Why allergies affect sex

Benninger says some allergy sufferers may simply be too tired to have sex. That could be because they’re sleep-deprived or because they’re fatigued by the ongoing war their bodies are waging on the inflammation associated with allergies.

But even when fatigue isn’t to blame, symptoms like nasal congestion or a runny nose might be enough to put a damper on desire. “It’s not very sexy when you keep sneezing during sexual activity,” Benninger says. “If you’re congested, you might have to stop to take a breath in the middle of a kiss. And no one wants their nose to drip on the other person.”

Self-consciousness about symptoms like puffy eyes or “allergic shiners,” the dark circles under the eyes that allergies sometimes cause, can also be a downer. “Feeling embarrassed by their symptoms may lead people to avoid intimate contact,” says Clifford W. Bassett, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine and otolaryngology at Long Island College Hospital/SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, N.Y. “A lot of women, in particular, seem to be embarrassed by symptoms that are not well controlled.”

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

man blowing nose
Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
Allergy capsule
Breathe easier with these products.
cat on couch
Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
Which ones affect you?

blowing nose
woman with sore throat
lone star tick
Woman blowing nose

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

cat lying on shelf
Allergy prick test
Man sneezing into tissue
Woman holding feather duster up to face, twitching