This rare and understudied phenomenon known as post-orgasmic illness syndrome, or POIS, is believed to be caused by men having an allergy to their own semen, either through contact or due to a rush of hormones released during climax.
Men who experience flu-like symptoms after having an orgasm are allergic to sex, researchers have found. Symptoms can develop within seconds, minutes, or hours after sex and cause men to experience extreme fatigue, runny nose, muscle weakness, fever and sweating.
And though the exact cause is unclear, researchers speculate that it may be affecting far more men who don’t report their symptoms.
Men who experience flu-like symptoms after sex have post-orgasmic illness syndrome or POIS, a rare and understudied condition that can last between two and seven days. The condition was first reported in 2002 but since then about 50 cases have been examined where men experience a range of flu-like and allergy symptoms after ejaculating.
A study from Tulane University said: ‘POIS negatively affects the life of patients by limiting sexual encounters, dampening romantic prospects, creating internal struggles to avoid eroticism, and affecting patients’ schedules.’
WHY DO YOU GET A HEADACHE AFTER SEX?
The ‘sex headaches’ – which affect men more than women – come in two forms, according to Dr Margaret Redelman. The first, called pre-orgasmic headache, is triggered by a build-up of pressure that increases as sexual excitement does. And the other, orgasmic headache, has an ‘explosive, throbbing quality and appears just before or at the moment of orgasm’.
The pain is described, ‘as if you’ve been hit over the head with a cricket bat.’
Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at Lovehoney, said those lovers who enjoy the most lively sex are most at risk of the headaches. Other symptoms include mood disturbances, irritability, memory difficulties, concentration lapses and incoherent speech that can last between two and seven days.
The research published in Sexual Medicine Reviews highlighted two suspected causes for the post-sex illness. The most common theory is that some men may be allergic to their own semen, or something in their semen, which causes an immediate immune reaction.
A semen allergy is an allergic reaction to a protein found in a man’s semen that mostly affects women but has been known to also affect men when semen comes in contact with the skin or mouth.
A previous study conducted on 45 Dutch men used a skin-prick test, sticking the men with their own semen, to identify an allergy. Of the 33 who were pricked, 87 percent of men experienced POIS symptoms that started within 30 minutes after ejaculation.
Complaints of POIS symptoms were reported in their head, eyes, nose, throat, and muscles once their semen came in contact with their skin.
‘They didn’t feel ill when they masturbated without ejaculating, but as soon as the semen came from the testes…after that they became ill, sometimes within just a few minutes,’ Marcel Waldinger, study other and professor of sexual psychopharmacology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, told Reuters.
Another suspected cause, is that some men’s opioid receptors, including endorphins, may be affected when released during orgasms. Their bodies could be unable to cope with the rush of hormones being released when they have sex.
And because the cause of the condition is not fully known, treating it can be difficult. But some men have been treated with antihistamines, selective serotonin inhibitors and psychoactive drugs including benzodiazepines.
Hyposensitization is also a possible treatment by decreasing men’s allergy response through exposure, meaning the more they ejaculated the lesser their symptoms became. And for some who can’t find a proper remedy, abstinence may be their best route at avoiding the uncomfortable symptoms.