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