When Sex Makes You Sick: Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome

Most people enjoy having sex, but for a small group of men, the very act of having an orgasm can make them sick.

Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome

This condition was first discovered about a decade ago and is relatively rare, causing some doctors to question whether it's psychological in nature.

Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome (POIS) closely mimics the flu, causing the fever, runny nose, and deep exhaustion. The discomfort usually starts after ejaculation and can last for as long as a week.


A researcher from Utrecht University in the Netherlands studied this illness and believes that it stems from a male's autoimmune response to his own semen. This fact lends important credence to a health complaint that, in the past, was easily dismissed by physicians and caused real embarrassment for victims.

Treatment Options

The researcher believes that the best way to treat the problem is to use autoimmune therapy to build up tolerance. This works by exposing men to tiny doses of their own semen, eventually building up to larger amounts to desensitize the immune system and prevent the allergic response.

To test this approach, the scientist tried treating two men with semen allergies with this method. Both men were tested after one year of treatment, and again at three years, to see if their tolerance to semen was increased. In each case, significant improvements were seen. This finding was included in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in January 2011.

What this Means for You

If you're a male who experiences flu-like symptoms every time you engage in sexual intercourse or masturbation, you'll need to talk to your doctor to confirm whether you could have Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome. While the conversation may be tricky to begin, it will be worth the effort to get to the bottom of the problem, especially since an allergy to semen can be effectively treated.

Other Potential Triggers

Keep in mind that semen isn't the only potential allergen you could come in contact with. For instance, some men and women can experience a rash with itching and burning skin as the result of an allergy to personal care products and lubricants. You could also experience nasal allergies from a fragrance or hair product your partner wears.

Your allergist can help you explore your specific situation and other potential causes in order to determine exactly what's to blame for your symptoms and come up with the best strategy on how best to resolve the issue.


"Semen allergy suspected in rare post-orgasm illness." Reuters. Reuters, 17 Jan. 2001. Web, 7 Feb. 2011.

Waldinger, Marcel D., Meinardi, Marcus M.H.M., Schweitzer, Dave H.  "Hyposensitization Therapy with Autologous Semen in Two Dutch Caucasian Males: Beneficial Effects in Postorgasmic Illness Syndrome (POIS; Part 2)." The Journal of Sexual Medicine. DOI: 10.1111/j. (Jan. 2011). Web, 7 Feb. 2011.