Seasonal allergies suck. What’s worse? Being allergic to your orgasms.
Yup, if afflicted with post-orgasmic illness syndrome (POIS), your sperm can give you flu-like symptoms.
POIS is a supremely rare condition—only 60 reported cases—that develops seconds, minutes, or hours after orgasm and can last up to a week. Symptoms may include fatigue, weakness, headache, fever, mood changes, memory or concentration problems, a stuffy nose, sore throat, and itchy eyes.
One study published in the journal Urology Case Reports followed the treatment of a 27-year old man with POIS. Post-ejaculation, the man had a cough, runny nose, and hive-like rash on his forearms.
“Because of the distressing nature of his symptoms, he actively avoided any sexual activity or romantic relationships,” says lead researcher Andrew Shanholtzer, medical student at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in Michigan.
It’s likely this allergy stems from infection or injury to the testicles which leads to super small amounts of sperm leaking into your bloodstream, Shanholtzer says.
“There are special cells called Sertoli cells that nurture and surround sperm and keep it isolated from immune cells,” he says. “When the Sertoli cells are damaged, the sperm is exposed to the immune system for the first time and the immune system attacks the sperm like it is a virus or foreign bacterium.”
Lucky for this young man, researchers found fexofenadine—an antihistamine—as an effective treatment for up to 90 percent of his symptoms.
While there is no known single most effective therapy for POIS, Shanholtzer has high hopes for this allergy med.
“Fexofenadine is a relatively safe, inexpensive, and well-tolerated medication,” he says. This result will, “hopefully be replicated in future patients.”