What is Postorgasmic Illness Syndrome?

What is Postorgasmic Illness Syndrome?

Postorgasmic illness syndrome (POIS) is a rare condition that causes symptoms after ejaculation. Though treatments for POIS exist, recommendations are limited due to a lack of studies and unclear syndrome causes.

In order to be diagnosed with POIS, a patient must experience consistent symptoms post-ejaculation that last for 2-7 days, as well as spontaneous relief. Symptoms can include headache, foggy head, flu-like symptoms, muscle tension and weakness, extreme fatigue, concentration difficulties, burning eyes, sore throat, and congested nose, among others.

A recent study aimed to understand POIS better by examining patient experiences, treatments, and the validity of diagnostic criteria and symptom clusters. Data was collected for this study from patients at a neurourology center who were diagnosed with POIS.

The data included information about the patients such as their age, medical history, and existing health conditions. It also included aspects of symptoms, like when they started, their nature, and their duration. Any additional tests that were conducted on the individuals and their outcomes were documented as well.

Primary POIS was differentiated from secondary POIS if the symptoms started with one’s first ejaculations, as opposed to being acquired later in life (secondary POIS). Lastly, the data documented the patients’ attempted treatments and their respective success rates.

In the end, 37 men with POIS were included in this study. The men had an average symptom onset at age 23.6, seeking consultation at 33.6 years. Symptoms occurred about 1 hour 22 minutes after ejaculation, lasting for 4.7 days on average.

Forty-six percent experienced primary (lifelong) POIS symptoms, while 54% developed symptoms later in life (secondary POIS). Common comorbidities included allergies, migraines, and anxiety-depressive disorders.

Most patients met diagnostic criteria, with “general” symptom and “head” symptom clusters being prevalent. (General symptoms include fatigue, problems with speech, palpitations, concentration difficulties, etc., and head symptoms include headaches, fogginess, and pressure in the head).

Treatments among the participants varied, with antihistamines and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) showing efficacy. Some patients exhibited abnormalities in hormonal blood tests and autonomic tests (tests designed to determine how well the body regulates its internal organs).

This study was one of the largest cohort studies on POIS. It explored detailed symptom clusters, their course, tests, and treatments. Predominant clusters were general and head symptoms, aligning with prior studies. Unlike initial descriptions of POIS, this cohort showed fewer local allergic reactions and flu-like symptoms. Some unusual complaints from this cohort included abdominal and pelvic pain post-ejaculation.

At this time, the cause of POIS is still unknown. However, experts have a few different ideas of what could cause it, including being very sensitive to semen, a problem related to the body’s immune response, or a problem with the nervous system. Some believe psychological factors or issues with hormones could also play a role.

Ultimately, the results of this study underscore the complex, multifaceted nature of POIS. Further research could help scientists and health care professionals to better understand and manage this rare and disabling condition.

For more information on this topic, please read these publications from the ISSM Journals: The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Sexual Medicine Reviews, and Sexual Medicine Open Access:

Analysis of the Symptomatology, Disease Course, and Treatment of Postorgasmic Illness Syndrome in a Large Sample

Post-Orgasmic Illness Syndrome: A Review


Chea, M., Teng, M., Chesnel, C., Lagnau, P., Amarenco, G., & Hentzen, C. (2023). Postorgasmic illness syndrome: one or several entities? A retrospective cohort study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 20(12), 1407–1413. https://doi.org/10.1093/jsxmed/qdad139

Other Popular Articles

What Is Jelqing, and Does It Actually Work?

The term “jelqing” refers to a set of penis stretching exercises that some believe can make the penis bigger. Although the practice has gained attention and popularity in blogs and internet forums in recent years, there is no scientific evidence that it is an effective way to permanently increase the size of one’s penis. In fact, in some cases, jelqing may actually cause damage to the penis, so it is a good idea to get all the facts before setting off to try it.

What Is Sensate Focus and How Does It Work?

Sensate focus is a technique used to improve intimacy and communication between partners around sex, reduce sexual performance anxiety, and shift away from ingrained, goal-oriented sexual patterns that may not be serving a couple.

What Is the Average Penis Size?

If you have ever wondered how your penis compares to others in terms of size, you are not alone. Many men are curious to know how their penises stack up compared to the average. Unfortunately, general curiosity can sometimes give way to full-on obsession and anxiety about penis size. This can be an unhealthy and often unnecessary fixation, especially because most men who think their penises are too small have perfectly normal-sized penises.

What Is Edging and Why Do People Do It?

Edging is the practice of stopping sexual stimulation before reaching orgasm to prolong a sexual experience. The term stems from the concept of approaching the metaphorical “edge” of orgasm but stopping before going over the edge.

Can Sex Reduce Menstrual Cramps?

The SMSNA periodically receives and publishes ‘guest editorials.’ The current article was submitted by Mia Barnes, a freelance writer and researcher who specializes in women's health, wellness, and healthy living. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine.

Having sex while you experience menstrual cramps is healthy and can provide significant benefits. While it might not be the first activity that comes to mind when your PMS or period cramping begins, many people enjoy sex to reduce menstrual cramps, experience increased pleasure and benefit from other advantages. Learn more about having sex while menstrual cramps are happening and how it can help your body.

Can Sex Throw off Your Vaginal pH Balance?

The SMSNA periodically receives and publishes ‘guest editorials.’ The current article was submitted by Mia Barnes, a freelance writer and researcher who specializes in women's health, wellness, and healthy living. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine.

Your vagina is a pretty powerful organ. It is a pathway for menstrual blood and babies. It also is a main player in sexual intercourse. You might hear about your vagina’s pH and worry that yours is at risk. Here’s what to know about vaginal pH, including the impacts sex could have.

Find a Provider

Find a provider who specializes in sexual medicine in your area.