Sneezy After Sex? You Could Have Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome

By Patrick Morgan | January 20, 2011 2:00 pm

If you experience feverish, burning-eyed orgasms, don’t rejoice–you should probably consider visiting your doctor. Scientists believe such flu-like symptoms arise when men are allergic to their own semen.

It’s called post orgasmic illness syndrome (POIS). Although the term has been around since 2002, researchers led by Marcel Waldinger, a professor of sexual psychopharmacology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, have for the first time shown that some men suffer from a semen allergy. Such men, after ejaculating, not only have burning eyes and fever-like feelings that can last for a week, but also feel as tired as post-marathon runners and have noses that run faster than Usain Bolt.

In one study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine this week, the researchers pricked the skin of 33 POIS-diagnosed men with their own diluted semen, and discovered that nearly 90 percent of them had allergic reactions as a result. As Reuters reports:

“These results are a very important breakthrough in the research of this syndrome,” Waldinger said in a telephone interview. He said the findings “contradict the idea that the complaints have a psychological cause” and show that an auto-allergic reaction to semen is the most likely cause.

Another study by Waldinger published in the same journal outlines a promising treatment for those afflicted by semen allergies: hyposensitization therapy. As part of this therapy, men were injected with their own semen in evermore concentrated strains over the course of three years, which the researchers found gradually reduced their post-orgasmic symptoms. This treatment also paves the way for wonderfully awkward conversations opening with the words, “So, my doctor gave me my semen shot today…”

With publishing this research, the scientists hope that the public–including doctors–becomes more aware of POIS, making it easier for men (who are already known for shying away from doctor visits) to approach their physicians if they think they’re suffering from it. But until this semen syndrome becomes more well known, I wouldn’t suggest calling in sick from work because of it–that is, unless you’re comfortable explaining to your boss that today’s sick leave stems from last night’s orgasm.

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Image:  Wikimedia Commons / Bobjgalindo

  • Brian Too

    There’s a big logical problem here.

    OK, so posit that men can be allergic to their own semen.

    How then are they not suffering these symptoms all the time? The semen is in their gonads at all times. Inside their bodies! Yeah it’s assembled from components into ejaculate (if I remember correctly), but it should still be triggering major ongoing suffering.

    I call B.S. on saying that the sufferers are only exhibiting symptoms post-orgasm. Or more correctly, that if such symptoms are only present then, they cannot be a result of an allergic reaction. Something else must be going on.

  • Dunbar

    The testes, among several other places (, is normally not visible to the immune system. Also, they’re having allergic symptoms– therefore, it isn’t a great leap of faith to consider that they are having allergic reactions.

    I haven’t read the paper but did they consider the possibility that they might be allergic to their partner? I seem to recall some hilarious (after a fashion) research on oral sex and pre-eclampsia. Also, do these symptoms arise after masturbation?

  • Dunbar

    ah I answered my own question. Never mind.

  • Vincent Marcus

    I’ve had POIS for four years now and it’s ruined my life even caused me to drop out of college. I’m kind of skeptical of the theory that it’s autoimmune in nature. I think it could also be caused by an imbalance in hormones or neurotransmittors caused by or excacerbated by orgasm.

    I feel the title of this article is misleading since most POIS sufferers have debilitating mental fog and exhaustion and/or physical pain and exhaustion. (Sneezing isn’t a common symptom of POIS although eyeburning is).

    To Dunbar: The symptoms of POIS are caused by both masturbation and sex. All that is needed is ejaculation even nocturnal emissions cause symptoms. However in some cases orgasm without ejaculation (achieved via surgery or drugs) causes no symptoms.


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