What happens if you get semen in your eye? What the professionals say

How many conversations have you had with your friends or coworkers (just us?) that start with “OK, TMI but…” We believe that no bodily function is “weird” or “gross,” and no question is too embarrassing to make . But for those times when she’d rather go online than her best friend for answers, we’ve got you covered. See everything

Yes, sex can be pleasurable and satisfying (and fun!), but it can also be messy and uncomfortable. Who does not have had your fair share of sexual mishaps, like falling off the bed trying to take off your pants or making a noise in the middle of changing positions? But for most of us, those situations are easy to laugh and move on. What happens when a sexual mishap requires a more deliberate solution, such as getting semen in your eye? It might look like a scenario straight out of a Judd Apatow movie, but the burning and stinging in the eye that follows is distinctly unfunny.

If your first reaction is to start freaking out, that’s totally understandable. If your next reaction is to frantically scroll the internet to find out what to do about it, that’s understandable too. (Not exactly something everyone wants to ask their friends about.) But do not worry. Most of the time, there is nothing to worry about other than the initial discomfort.

What happens if you get semen in your eye?

Prepare for some side effects after a facial gone wrong. After all, our eyes are among the most sensitive parts of our bodies, so anything that shouldn’t be in them will cause a strong reaction, even something organic (so to speak) like semen.

“Semen is made up of a fluid made up of a mixture of amino acids, enzymes, proteins, citric acid, zinc, potassium, fructose, phosphorylcholine, prostaglandin, and water,” says Ness Cooper, clinical sexologist at The Sex Consultant. “Its pH may be slightly more acidic than the fluid lining the eyes, which can disrupt the eye’s natural protective environment and cause it to react sensitively.”

Signal: burning, stinging and general irritation in the affected eye. This reaction is caused by a histamine response in the eye, which can cause allergic conjunctivitis, says Cooper. (Also known as “eye allergy.”) Fortunately, the redness and irritation usually don’t last more than an hour or two at most. However, these side effects can last even longer if allergic conjunctivitis is triggered without proper care.

Now you know what to expect during the initial semen-eye contact, but that’s only half the battle.

So… what should you do if you get semen in your eye?

For starters, resist the urge to rub your eyes, that will only make things worse. “Rubbing semen into the eyes can further upset the eyes, especially as it rubs in a mucus mix of salts, sugars, acids, and other components that aren’t natural to the eyes,” says Cooper.

Instead, flush your eye with water or a saline solution as soon as possible. “If you find yourself with semen in your eye, the best thing to do is flush your eyes right away,” says Jenelle Pierce, CSE, executive director of The STI Project and spokesperson for Positive Singles. “Remove contact lenses and then rinse eyes with cool water, splashing cool water into the eyes for 30 to 60 seconds, or saline solution by spraying into the corner of the eye closest to the nose and letting the solution run down the other side near your ear.” If you wear contact lenses, clean them with your regular disinfecting solution (such as contact lens solution) or throw them away if they are single-use lenses.

If you are a regular user of eye drops, you can also use them to wash your eyes. But if you don’t have or don’t normally use eye drops, Pierce recommends skipping them in favor of the aforementioned ways to rinse your eyes. Why? Eye drops can irritate some people’s eyes, and now is not the time to introduce anything else that will annoy your eye even more.

Once the initial burning and stinging have passed, it is important to get tested as soon as possible. (Better safe than sorry!) Gregory Quayle, MD, an ABMS-certified urologist, says that transmission of HIV or STIs through semen-to-eye contact is “theoretically possible,” but there have been no documented cases that confirm it. “If you have any cuts or open wounds around your eyes, it is important to avoid contact with semen,” he adds, since you could contract an STI or other infection through these routes.

When it comes to HIV transmission, your risk varies based on a few factors. “If your partner is HIV negative then you are not at risk. If your partner is on antiretroviral therapy and your viral load is undetectable, you are not at risk,” says Nsisong Asanga, a field epidemiologist and global health physician. If your partner is HIV-positive, but isn’t taking antiretroviral drugs or you don’t know his status, then your risk is one in 10,000, he adds.

It may also be a good idea to get tested for monkeypox if you think you have been exposed to someone who is infected. Although monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted infection like gonorrhea or chlamydia (and scientists are still studying whether this latest variant of monkeypox could be transmitted through semen and other genital secretions), the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that it is “sexually transmissible.” In other words, sex is only one of the ways that monkeypox can be spread from person to person.

“Many cases of monkeypox include concomitant eye infections, but those infections typically do not originate in the eye because monkeypox is spread through close contact,” adds Pierce. “So, if he participated in an activity that left him with possible semen in his eye, then he was already interacting close enough to contract monkeypox from that individual.”

Above all, make an appointment with a health care provider if you need help on what to do, if you’re unsure of your partner’s STI status, or if discomfort persists. They can assess your symptoms and guide you on the next steps.

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