Gesundheit! For Some, Sex Causes Uncontrollable Sneezing

By Nina Bai | January 5, 2009 2:41 pm

sneezeHere’s something to think about the next time a stranger on the subway is suddenly seized by a sneezing fit:  A new report [subscription required] describes people who experience uncontrollable sneezing when thinking about sex, or after doing the deed itself.  The researchers, who conducted an admittedly unscientific survey by scouring Internet chat rooms, believe that this strange phenomenon is more common than reported.

Harold Maxwell and Mahmood Bhutta of West Middlesex University Hospital in London decided to investigate the issue after one patient, a middle-aged man, complained of uncontrollable fits of sneezing when thinking about sex.  Searching through the medical literature, they could find only one similar case of a man who reported severe sneezing after orgasm.  Perhaps the phenomenon is under-reported because people who suffer from it are embarrassed, they thought.

So the researchers turned to the anonymity of the Web: After a survey of chatrooms, the researchers found 17 people who reported sneezing triggered by sexual thoughts, and three who reported sneezing triggered by orgasm.

The researchers think the link between sex and sneezing is a problem with the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls a slew of involuntary reflexes, including those associated with sexual arousal and those controlled by cranial nerves, such as sneezing.  The parasympathetic nervous system also controls reflexes involved in digestion and vision.  No wonder many people (up to 25 percent, in a Swedish study) report sneezing induced by bright lights (photic sneeze reflex) and a few people even report sneezing caused by a full stomach.

Related Content:
DISCOVER: Evolution of the Big O

Image: flickr / Mussels

  • Trish

    I was interested to read an article in The Guardian recently regarding sex induced sneezing. My husband starts to sneeze as soon as his hand comes into contact with my pubic hair. It has become a real joke between us but we thought he was the only one. Glad to hear he is not unique.

  • Myra

    I sneeze everytime I get super-erotically sexually aroused.

    I thought perhaps I was allergic to sex.

    It’s actually kind of funny if you think about it.

    Orgasming is like sneezing.

    So there’s a sneeze at the beginning and a sneeze at the end!

    Who would have thought …

  • Enjoy Life

    To: I have a remedy
    I too am a chronic uncontrollable sneezer and can relate to every one of your posts. Nothing worked for me either when I would take allergy medicines and nasal sprays. Please be open-minded when I say this, even you parents who are opposed to illegal drugs. One day this past summer I had been suffering from a day of sneezing when my friend offered me a pill of Ecstasy to do just as a fun drug without knowing it would help me with my sinuses. After I took the pill, about 30 minutes later my sinuses completely dried up and stopped sneezing and I could breathe so easily. Oh my! I was so happy (thats what the drug helps with anyways) but I was so impressed with the fact it took away the sinus itch that you normally have. Now I really dont do drugs, only on rare special occasions and live a pretty clean life, I am 36 yrs old and pretty healthy, have been an athlete in my past. Lately, the past few weeks my sinuses started getting bad as the Santa Ana winds blow in from the high desert here in San Diego, CA and I have had more days now lately where my sinuses flared up and a lot of sneezing again, so I got another ecstasy pill to take when I had another spell of sneezing and I could have a day off from work to test it out. This time I only took half of the pill and Lo and behold it worked again!
    I’m not sure if I want to take this drug very much and may just experiment with taking as little as possible to see it it still works. Like a half or less of the tablet. I am going to give you a quote from a person who used ecstasy a lot and let her describe it, but there is something in that drug that dries you up and I think someone who know about pharmacy & tests pharmaceuticals could look into it further, may be a way to get a pill or liquid dose that could help us all out.

    Here is her excerpt: (“I took E every day for 2 years, & it messed me up bad, I had a complete mental breakdown. When I first started doing it it was awesome. I loved it so much I got hooked. It is a mood enhancer, it increases the seratonin in your brain, which makes you feel happy, euphoric, peaceful, & loving. If you abuse it like I did though, the seratonin has a hard time replenishing itself, & you get the opposite affects, paranoia, depression, anxiety. So if you do decide to try it, only do it occasionally, like on the weekends, & you only need 1 tablet the 1st time. I still do it, but only 3 times a week, & my buzz is wicked again, like it used to be.”)

    So I recommend getting some for those times when you start sneezing and can have some time to mellow out without having to work too much. That’s my 2 cents for what its worth, and I’m happy I’ve discovered something that works for me and will for you too. Just do it in moderation please.

  • Mark

    I sneeze after orgasm. I also sneeze after a filling meal. I was told years ago by a friend that it was caused by an adrenal firing as the body senses a need for “action” (orgasm or digestion). That made sense to me. Regardless, it has in no way impaired my sex or dining experiences.

  • Dude

    I am almost 40 years old and I started doing this about 10 years ago. It only happens when I think about a certain sexual act with a woman. I usually sneeze two to three times when it happens.

  • Rich

    So, there are many times that this happened to me. It is was what seemed random thoughts of sex, but when I started to keep track, it is usually when I have a sexual thought that is not preceded by others. When a suggestive comment is said by me or another person, I can sneeze… or when my partner “suggests” that there be a little “sumpthin, sumpthin” {SNEEZE!} only once. Then that cat-is-outta-da-bag… she knows I am aroused. she hit the cord.

  • MrChris

    I am 47 years old. About 10 years ago I noticed I would get nasal congestion followed by about half a dozen sneezes after I would climax. My wife always thought stirring up dust mites in the bed sheets from our activities was the cause. I might have agreed with her were it not for the fact that it also happens when I’m in the shower (wink, wink).

  • Matthew

    I discovered this when I was about 14 and I am now 34. If I come in contact with my wife it does not happen. If I think sexual thoughts when I am alone or if I feel like I have to sneeze and the urge is about to pass, I will think a sexual thought and it will trigger a sneeze. I actually was just thinking about an old girlfriend and it triggered 5 sneezes in a row. It cannot be a casual thought though. It only will happen if I really think about a detailed sexual act, usually something along the lines of fantasy, I will definitely sneeze every time. The first time it happened, I was 14 and I was thinking about my babysitter and I sneezed. I really never thought anything about it. I soon realized that every time I thought about a detailed sexual act with her, I would sneeze. I told my best friend about it around a year later and he just laughed. We joked about it over the years but i have sneezed ever since. It is so strange but again, it only happens if I think about a very detailed sexual act but I also think it happens a little more frequently as I am now getting older. If this happens with anyone else, you are not alone. It’s so funny but it’s true. It been happening with me for 20 years. LOL!

  • Brad

    I sneeze after orgasm and also from bright lights. Always have. Strange and interesting.

  • Michelle

    My husband is like Mark. He sneezes after orgasm and after a very filling meal. It seems to be getting more consistent. When we were first married it would only be once in a while – typically after a very long session. Now it’s practically every time : a dozen or so house-shaking sneezes.

  • Tony

    This phenomenon only started occuring after mt 65th B’day. Wierd stuff. Must have something to do with seratonin levels. hmmm?

  • Anrotas30

    …I am not the only one? I thought its because i am Greek! I have noticed that i feel always a tickling over my nose near the “third eye” ! Did you?

  • Mamacat0831

    I was telling my sister tonight that I do this and she didn’t believe it and had never heard of it… My gyno told me it was more common than thought but I’ve never heard anyone else claim that it happened to them so I have kept it quiet.  I do it anytime I have a provocative thought that is really good.  Never during sex, orgasm or afterwards.

  • Sympathic

    Glad to see I am not alone and have sympathy for all! I have always in my adult life sneezed when walking outside into bright sun, my father had the same issue. I never had the issue with sneezing after orgasm until after I retired at age 62, 3 years ago. about 2 years ago it started and continues that as soon as I orgasm I start to sneeze, it doesn’t matter where I am, as soon as I start to approach orgasm I feel the sinuses start to fill.
    It has become a joke with the wife and I but is something that I could do without :)

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Discoblog

Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »