Maybe the facial was planned. Maybe it wasn't. Either way, here you are wandering naked with limited sight trying to determine the consequences of getting come in your eye. Now what?
Beyond just sperm, semen contains fructose, acids, enzymes and mucus—not exactly a cocktail you want shaken into your oculus. But it's a common occurrence, explained New Jersey urologist Dr. Michael Ingber. This natural blend, compared to the makeup of the eye, gives semen a slightly more alkaline composition. "And, like any other substance that can change the pH, when it comes in contact with the eye, it can cause irritation," he said.
Rest assured that in the majority of cases, redness and irritation are the most serious outcomes, and you'll be fine, said Dr. Tanginika Cuascud, a clinical sexologist and educator at Texas Sexual Health. Rinsing the eye with cool, clean water will help clear it up.
Flush it out
Since you likely don't recall the contents of the eye-washing poster in your high school chemistry lab, the World Health Organization (WHO) actually has guidelines on what to do when your eyes are exposed to bodily fluids. And they can be carried out anywhere there is a sink.
Most important, stop yourself from rubbing your eye. And don't use soap. The WHO recommends flushing the eye out with water or saline solution right away. If you have assistance from someone, especially if this is their fluid, ask the person to pour water or saline over the eye while gently moving the eyelid up and down to ensure the eyeball is cleaned. If you're wearing contacts, leave them in until after you've rinsed, then clean them as you normally would.
Your eye might continue to tear up as it tries to clean itself, but in most cases, the temporary discomfort and washing ritual are the extent of the inconvenience.
"Usually, most semen is sterile—meaning there is no bacteria," Ingber said. "So, it generally won't lead to infection."
Talk to your doctor
In the less likely scenario where you're still feeling pain, sensitivity to light or noticing inflammation a day later, there's a possibility that conjunctivitis (pink eye) or a sexually transmitted infection (STI) has entered the chat.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis include pink or red coloration of the eye and eyelid, itchiness, increased tear production, or waking up in the morning with thick or watery discharge that forms a crust on the eye. A course of antibiotics from your doctor can clear all of this up.
But what if it's not pink eye? While the risk is low, it is possible to contract an STI via semen-to-eye contact. Herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV can be transmitted this way, and symptoms can include redness, pain, discharge and changes in vision.
"In case of any doubt, go get checked by a specialist for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) or eye infections," Ingber said.
When describing symptoms to your doctor, don't omit their cause (though you can leave out more personal specifics). There's no reason to be embarrassed, and divulging the pertinent details will ensure your doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe treatment.
So, the next time you're up to your eyeballs in…well, you'll know what to do.