Clara and Jeff (names changed by ABC News) waited until marriage to have sex. But instead of being rewarded for their chastity with mind-bending copulation, as is so often promised in religious circles, the couple faced a medical emergency.
"I had this bizarre reaction," Clara told ABC. "I had burning and swelling and redness, which was very unusual. I thought I had contracted an STD."
After a series of visits to the gynecologist, Clara discovered the hard truth: She was allergic to her new husband's sperm.
"It was a real problem," Jeff said. "Because everything else was great. We were madly in love, but it was a real game-changer for a while. It pretty much dramatically reduced our libido. We really haven't had much sex at all for the last 10 months. The intimacy level drops dramatically -- all of a sudden, instead of living with your new wife or husband, you are more like roommates."
"I feel like we actually started to define ourselves -- minimizing things to avoid sex. I started thinking I wouldn't wear sexy underwear. What seemed like medical problems had bigger effects," Clara added.
But lucky for these newlyweds, sperm allergies are easily treated. Clara's doctors skin-tested Jeff's sperm on her, and managed to isolate the offending protein. Then, Clara's doctors gradually desensitized her to the protein so they could resume normal copulation.
"There was a small amount of swelling, but compared to previous times, it was much less," she told ABC.