The following article about Post-Orgasmic Illness Syndrome (POIS) by Andrea Downey appeared in The Sun on November 29, 2017. (Keep reading after the article).
BOYS, do you get a stuffy nose, fatigue and the sweats after you’ve had sex?
No, it’s not because your performance was so mind blowing your body couldn’t cope – you could actually be allergic to sex.
That’s right, post-orgasmic illness syndrome (POIS) is an actual medical condition.
The rare condition causes flu-like symptoms to start immediately after you have, ahem, finished.
It was first documented in 2002 and there have been more than 50 cases recorded worldwide – but it could be even higher if men have not heard of the condition before.
A recent paper from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans noted: “POIS is a rare condition that is under diagnosed and under-reported.
“Further studies are warranted to investigate the prevalence, pathophysiology, and treatment of this debilitating condition.”
Men who suffer from the condition can experience extreme fatigue, weakness, a fever or sweating, mood changes or irritability, problems concentrating, a stuffy nose and itching eyes after getting down and dirty.
They may occur within seconds, minutes or even a few hours after ejaculation.
And they can last as long as two to seven days.
While the symptoms of the condition are widely recognised, the cause of them is not.
The most commonly held belief is that the flu-like symptoms may be caused by a semen allergy which causes an immediate immune reaction.
A semen allergy is an allergic reaction to a protein found in a man’s ejaculate.
It mostly affects women but has been known to affect men too.
Another theory is that some men may have a disorder affecting their endogenous opioid receptors – the most common being endorphins.
Their body is unable to cope with the amount of endogenous opioids being released when they have sex.
As the cause of the condition is not known treating it can prove difficult.
Some men have been treated with antihistamines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and benzodiazepines.
One study has used hyposensitisation to treat two men by decreasing their allergy response through exposure – in other words the more they ejaculated the lesser their symptoms became.
The treatment did not cure their symptoms entirely, but they did ease up over time.
Until the exact cause of the condition is known a cure cannot be found.
Now, it might seem like an allergy you’d be prepared to live with – after all a stuffy nose is worth a toe-curling orgasm, right?
But it can have huge impact on a man’s love life and even stop him having sex entirely.
Experts from Tulane University also noted the condition limits sexual encounters, can ruin an man’s chance at romance and can even cause them to completely avoid anything that turns them on.
That’s certainly not something you’d be willing to give up.
There are few stories here.
You might be wondering why we are highlighting this story on RxISK since it doesn’t appear to be an adverse drug effect. There are three reasons:
Firstly, for anyone with Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD), Post-Finasteride Syndrome (PFS) or Post-Retinoid Sexual Dysfunction (PRSD) who is researching their condition and trying to find answers, it may be helpful to explore other unusual sexual conditions in case they offer a potential lead that might not otherwise have been considered. Current opinion is that an autoimmune response may be behind POIS.
Could the same be true of PSSD and similar conditions? It’s worth thinking about.
Second, it would be interesting to know if anyone has ever developed POIS after using a medication, or if anyone with PSSD, PFS or PRSD has experienced similar flu-like or cognitive symptoms after orgasm. Our interest in POIS comes from several reports to us that look like POIS beginning after isotretinoin or SSRIs.
The third reason is to look at the way the issue has been reported. News coverage of POIS in recent weeks has stemmed from a newly published paper from Tulane University, as mentioned by The Sun. It’s a review article which means it isn’t a new study, but it brings together and examines all of the existing medical literature on the condition. It was published in the journal, Sexual Medicine Reviews, and was authored by Nguyen, Bala, Gabrielson and Hellstrom.
A quick google search shows that this new paper about POIS was reported by a variety of media outlets including:
…and a number of foreign language media outlets including Huffington Post Greece.
The news stories highlight the fact that this is a serious condition that isn’t well known. Prevalence is difficult to estimate because the condition is under-reported. It can have a serious effect on people’s lives and more research is needed to better understand the physiology of the problem and to find treatments.
This probably sounds very similar to anyone involved with PSSD. You might be wondering what would have happened if the paper from Tulane University had been about PSSD instead of POIS, and whether it would have received the same level of media attention.
Well, there is no need to wonder.
Three of the four authors from the POIS paper published another paper 3 months earlier, about PSSD. Like the POIS paper, it was also a review article and was published in the exact same medical journal – Sexual Medicine Reviews.
A quick google search reveals that it received no media attention at all, apart from appearing in a news item listed on the website of the journal’s parent organisation.
It looks like the media have an auto-immune response to anything that might be caused by a drug. Mention a drug and they come down with a bad case of Man Flu. There were several lurid reports about PGAD – before the link to medication began to become more obvious. None that make a link to the SSRI or related drugs you might be taking.
We need the media to Man Up.
Meanwhile, as far as we know, every primary care doctor on the Isle of Man has now heard of PSSD and PGAD.
It also looks like a large number of pharmacists in Western Australia have had or soon will have the message.