Sick after orgasm – that’s how dangerous POIS is

Fever after sex? Bitter reality for some men. An allergy to your own sperm is that dangerous

an hour’s nose begins to run, shortly after the headaches start and after a day following the fever. This is not how it should go for men after sex. But it’s not a made-up story: for some men, this is exactly what happens – every time after orgasm and ejaculation. We are talking about the “Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome” (POIS). Put simply, this means an allergy to one’s own sperm. But what is this disease all about?

What is POIS?

“With this syndrome, those affected get sick after orgasm and ejaculation,” says Christian Wülfing, chief physician of the department for urology at the Asklepios Klinik Altona. The “Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome” is a type of flu that occurs after men have sperm – regardless of whether they have had sex or have masturbated. The disease is extremely rare: “Very few urologists have ever experienced this in a patient,” emphasizes Wülfing. According to vague estimates, 0.25 to 1 percent of the population could suffer from it.

What are the symptoms of a semen allergy?

The disease feels like the flu for those affected, says Wülfing: Patients describe flu-like symptoms – from sweating and chills to fever and nausea. Some also feel weak and have headaches, as is the case with the flu.

“In the men examined, the symptoms appear in the first hour after orgasm and last 2 to 7 days,” says Wülfing. When the disease first occurs in men is still unclear. However, some patients report that they already felt the symptoms while masturbating as adolescents.

What are the effects of a semen allergy in men?

It is important to emphasize again: the symptoms only appear after a sperm effusion. So if you can’t orgasm, the syndrome won’t happen either. However, it is precisely this knowledge that leads many men to avoid behavior. “The men affected often adapt their sexual behavior and may also lose the desire to orgasm,” says the expert.

Many of those affected are also less sexually active and relationships also suffer. “The illness has a major impact on self-esteem. It can almost feel like a punishment to get the ‘flu’ after an orgasm,” said Wülfing.

The flu-like symptoms are not life-threatening, but the syndrome can have consequences, especially if the illness lasts for several days, for example for the job or the partnership.

What are the causes of an allergy to your own sperm?

“It is still not known exactly what causes this disease,” says Wülfing. Because there is a lack of empirical values ​​and comprehensive examinations because the disease is so rare. There are now a number of theories that describe possible causes.

  1. Autoimmune disease: the immune system reacts to the body’s own tissue: In a Dutch study, 45 POIS patients were examined to determine the possible cause of the disease. 33 of the subjects underwent an allergy test. The result: 29 of the men had reddened skin after the skin prick test with their own sperm. This suggests an autoimmune disease. “In an autoimmune disease, the body acts against its own components,” says urologist Wülfing.
  2. Allergic reaction to one’s own sperm: Since the symptoms only appear after a sperm effusion, it is reasonable to assume that it is an allergic reaction. “If it really is an allergy to one’s own sperm, the allergic reaction should take place shortly before the seminal fluid emerges in the tissue of the urethra,” says the expert.
  3. Psychological causes: “In another thesis it is assumed that the POIS has psychological causes,” says Wülfing. Because many affected men show signs of depression. Researchers asked themselves the classic “chicken-or-egg” question: Did the psychological problems or the POIS come first? However, according to the Dutch study, this thesis is largely refuted.

What therapy options are there for POIS patients?

The rarity and lack of examinations make treatment very difficult. “There are currently no real treatment options for those affected,” says Wülfing. However, there are some approaches that have already shown success with some of those affected. In treatments with a desensitization , as it is also used in patients with a pollen allergy, the symptoms were alleviated by 60 to 90 percent. Men are injected under the skin once a month with their own semen in a low dose. The therapy lasts about 15 to 31 months.

Another treatment option: “Treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs such as diclofenac was investigated ten years ago – and gave those affected an improvement of up to 80 percent,” says Wülfing. However, it has not yet been adequately tested whether it also achieves the desired effect in most men.

“One patient reported that his symptoms eased during his wife’s pregnancy. Therefore, it was considered whether it could have something to do with the hormone progesterone,” says the expert. The hormone is increasingly released during pregnancy. In theory, treatment with the hormone could therefore be a therapeutic approach.

What should I do if I have symptoms of a semen allergy?

Even if it is a very rare disease: do not hesitate to see a doctor. It is best to see a urologist directly if you have had flu-like symptoms after an orgasm for a long time. Far too few men do that: “I assume that there is a higher number of unreported cases with this syndrome because many men are ashamed of their symptoms,” says the urologist. It is therefore important to seek treatment. Because only with many examinations on patients can progress in research be made.

Conclusion: Affected men with POIS have a high level of suffering

The disease is very humiliating for patients: a “flu” after every orgasm, hardly any therapy options and sex life is impaired. But hope is not lost: some treatments have shown success in the past. If you have flu-like symptoms after sex or masturbating, don’t hesitate to see a urologist. Because the more men seek treatment, the sooner scientists can develop antidotes.

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