Why Some Men Are Allergic To Sex And Get Sick Whenever They Orgasm

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What Is POIS? Why Ejaculation Harms Some Men's Health

It could mean he's suffering from this rare syndrome.

Nothing is sexier than having a mind-blowing orgasm with your partner, after which he promptly and gracefully removes his penis from your body, and shortly thereafter runs to the bathroom vomiting buckets and proclaiming he definitely has the flu. Am I right, ladies?

No. No, I am not. The last thing you want after a passionate sexual encounter is to see the person you just shared that intimate experience with suddenly developing flu-like symptoms.

The good news is, he may not have a nasty viral infection at all! Instead, he may have a rare condition known as POIS, which means (kind of) that he may simply be allergic to sex!

What is POIS, you ask?

It's the acronym for a condition affecting some men's health that is known as post-orgasmic illness syndrome.

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While semen allergies in women were first identified in 1958, POIS, which is similar but different, wasn't discovered until 2002, when Dutch neuropsychiatrist and Drexel University professor Marcel D. Waldinger conducted a study intended to identify the cause and develop a method of treatment.

A new review undertaken by researchers at the Tulane University Department of Urology found that while scientists remain divided as to the exact nature of of this medical disorder, "POIS negatively affects the life of patients by limiting sexual encounters, dampening romantic prospects, creating internal struggles to avoid eroticism, and affecting patients' schedules."

Some believe men who are affected are experiencing an allergy-like to their own semen once they make direct contact.

As reported by Men's Journal:

“'POIS is not an allergy,' says Waldinger, 'but a systemic auto-immune reaction expressing itself in multiple physical and mental problems.'Both are caused by immune system overreactions, but this means that POIS is triggered by a different mechanism that is harder to pin down."

Others believe the reaction is caused by the rush of hormones that comes with each orgasm.

An article appearing in Science Alert states:

"Another hypothesis is that POIS might somehow result from chemical imbalances in the brain, with the aftermath of an orgasm producing symptoms similar to opioid withdrawal." 

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In other words, these researchers blame the opioid receptors, saying that when these men have an orgasm their bodies might literally not be able to cope with the release of hormones. Just when men were starting to think things couldn't get any worse, am I right?

(Whatever, they still make 33 cents to the dollar more than women do and also, they run the world, so there's that.)

One reason there is so little information currently available on this disorder may be a lack of reporting to physicians by men encountering the symptoms.

According to Reuters, "Post orgasmic illness syndrome is largely unknown among family doctors and experts say many men who suffer the condition feel ashamed about it and confused about what is wrong. Waldinger said while the syndrome is probably rare, it is likely that many men who suffer with it do not know it is a recognized condition and so do not come forward to doctors." 

There have only been approximately 50 known cases to date. In each, the symptoms typically begin developing within 30 minutes following ejaculation.

While some of these — such as congestion, fatigue and itchiness— may seem like little more than uncomfortable hassles, others sound brutal enough to make a man want to give up sex completely. These include "mood disturbances, irritability, memory difficulties, concentration lapses and incoherent speech that can last between two and seven days."

Waldinger's theory that this is a reaction of the auto-immune system is currently the most commonly held belief behind the cause of this syndrome within medical circles, and while as of yet there is no known cure or effective treatment, he believes the treatment method he has experimented with is the reason behind people's confusion between POIS and an actual semen allergy.

"Basically, he injected the men with increasing doses of their own semen in their skin on a regular basis for years, which is almost exactly how doctors treat semen allergies. There’ve also been attempts to reduce symptoms with allergy medications. Yet despite promising results published in a 2011 paper, Waldinger says he’s abandoned this tactic, which he no longer thinks has any real promise, and has no other idea for a cure in sight."

What is clear at this point in time is that more research is needed in order to reach conclusive answers and formulate proper and effective treatment. In the meantime, at the very least men who experience such symptoms can share the existing information with their doctors and take some comfort in knowing that they're not imagining things and they're not alone.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the sex, love, and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr