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Post-Orgasmic Illness Syndrome Could Be Making You Ill

This post is also available in: French

Most people love orgasms more than they love religion or children. (No real surprise there). But some people’s orgasms can literally make them ill, according to Dutch neuropsychiatrist and Drexel University professor of pharmacology Marcel D. Waldinger.

In an interview with Men’s Journal, Waldinger says that he has discovered post-orgasmic illness syndrome (POIS), a series of post-ejaculatory symptoms that can occur immediately after orgasm or several hours afterwards. The symptoms include “congestion, fatigue, feverishness, itchiness, irritability, memory and concentration issues” and can last anywhere from two to seven days.

Waldinger points out that POIS is different from being allergic to your own semen, a condition where proteins in sperm can irritate a person’s skin or internal membranes. To cure semen allergies, doctors inject patients with their own spunk until they get over it. Waldinger tried that with two people who have POIS—it didn’t work.

It’s tough to treat POIS because it’s relatively unheard of and, thus, largely un-researched. He mentioned 45 Dutch patients who have it, but he thinks that many other patients with POIS may have their symptoms misdiagnosed as having another cause. Its obscurity makes medical researchers unwilling to invest into investigating it more deeply, but he says that people who might have POIS should raise awareness by talking about it with their doctors.

“The more vocal and visible POIS becomes,” Men’s Journal writer Mark Ray writes, “the more impetus there will be for funding research, and the easier it will be to get a diagnosis and access to whatever treatments are eventually developed from your average doctor.”