Post-orgasmic illness syndrome (POIS)

Post-orgasmic illness syndrome (POIS) is a rare problem whereby upon orgasming, a person experiences flu-like symptoms. The orgasm can be with a partner or on your own, and the symptoms can start immediately – within minutes – or hours after orgasm, and can last for days.

Typically symptoms disappear within a week. Men suffer POIS more often than women, but it can happen in anyone. The symptoms of POIS can be quite debilitating and cause the avoidance of sexual relationships.

Waiting until you can – effectively – come down with the flu after having sex or mastubating puts a bit of a damper on it.

Classifications of POIS

There are two classifications of post-orgasmic illness syndrome: primary and secondary. As in all classifications in medicine, primary means you’ve always had it since it was relevant (in this case since you started having orgasms) or secondary, where it developed over time.

There is no known cause and no treatment, and nobody really knows how many people have this condition. Theories include an allergic-type reaction or an autoimmune response.

Available treatments include symptom management, such as antihistamines to control allergic reactions, a form of antidepressant (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs) or benzodiazepines.

Symptoms of post-orgasmic illness syndrome

  • Feeling tired
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Moody
  • Irritable
  • Fever – hot or cold
  • Watery, itchy eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Blocked nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Muscle soreness
  • Trouble concentrating

A proper diagnosis will be required, however you’re largely on your own when it comes to managing your symptoms.

Seek help from your doctor for at least a diagnosis, and to eliminate anything more serious, and then start the hard yards on figuring out, with the help of whatever healthcare professional you choose, how to get rid of it.

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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)