Finally, Jeff said, they "couldn't take it anymore," so they called Bernstein to learn he would take their insurance. They were told to set aside two days for allergy testing.
Just two weeks ago, Clara underwent an intravaginal "graded challenge" using serial dilutions of her husband's seminal fluid, which were injected via a syringe every 15-20 minutes over the course of two to three hours.
Their homework was to have sex within 12 hours and "see how it went," Clara said. Her symptoms "resolved substantially," according to Bernstein, who had her rate the pain.
"It was pretty much fine," she said. "There was a small amount of swelling, but compared to previous times, it was much less."
Bernstein told them to have sex again in a couple of day and to continue every few days. Each time went well. "Now," Clara said, "I am interested in having sex again."
Some of the couple's blood tests have still not come back, but the couple is guardedly optimistic. Clara and Jeff say they wanted to share their story to help others.
"It was kind of bizarre to be told, go have sex, especially after pretty much going cold turkey," Jeff said. "I think psychologically, we are back to a sense of normalcy."
Just the other morning, Clara made a move she hadn't done in months -- she initiated sex with Jeff.
"He said, 'It can probably wait until tomorrow. I don't want you to feel pressured,'" Clara said. "I wasn't even thinking that,' I told him. 'I just wanted you.'"
"This has been a very hopeful experience for us," Jeff said. "On a number of levels, it's been restorative. A whole side of our relationship really suffered. Now it's a whole new world."