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Allergies Health Center

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.
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Why allergies affect sex continued...

Finally, there’s the matter of smell. Sexual activity is governed in part through the action of sex pheromones, chemical substances people’s bodies give off in order to attract potential mates. If your nose is stopped up and you can't sense the pheromones, experts say, that may rein in your amorous activity.

“Olfaction is one of our most complicated senses,” says Timothy L. Smith, professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. “We’ve heard patients with allergies coming in and saying that their sense of smell is affected and that their sex lives have been affected by this.”

In other words, if you can’t detect the subtle scents your partner is giving off, you might not feel much like having sex.

Controlling allergy symptoms

No matter what’s behind allergies’ sex-squashing effect, experts say you may be able to improve life between the sheets if you take steps to control allergy symptoms. They point to a 1995 study by Turkish researchers showing that, among people suffering from chronic sinusitis (which causes symptoms similar to those caused by allergies), treating symptoms seemed to improve sexual satisfaction.

Doctors agree that the first line of defense should be limiting your exposure to allergy-causing substances (allergens), such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and molds that grow in soil and inside homes.

When pollen counts are high, spend as much time as you can indoors with the windows shut and the air conditioner on. When you do go out, wearing oversized sunglasses can help keep pollen out of your eyes -- especially on windy days. Driving somewhere? Keep the windows closed and run the A/C.

To check pollen and mold levels in your area, go to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology web site.

Change your clothes after coming in on high-pollen days, and wash your hair at night before going to bed. It may help to clean eyelids with tear-free shampoo. To get rid of excessive mucus, use a saline nasal spray or a Neti pot to irrigate your nose.

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