Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Post orgasmic illness syndrome (POIS), what is it?

There is a general notion that says Health is Wealth, meaning everything possible can be achieved as long as one’s health is good and stable. However in recent times, there seems to be a hike in health problems across the globe with the appearance of very rare and dangerous diseases.

Just the thought of having a common illness is scary enough, not to talk then of those conditions that afflict only a few people. Such diseases are referred to as rare. These conditions often go undiagnosed for years, as doctors might come across only one case (or none at all) during their whole career. A case in time is the Postorgasmic illness syndrome, POIS.

What is POIS?

Postorgasmic illness syndrome otherwise known as POIS is a medical condition in which a man develops flu-like symptoms after ejaculation in the absence of a local genital reaction. The syndrome is thought to be one of the most mysterious diseases ever come across in the medical field. POIS was first identified in a 2002 study by a professor of sexual psychopharmacology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, Marcel D. Waldinger. The condition causes men to experience flu-like symptoms after most or all of their ejaculations. The disease is generally unknown among family doctors and experts say many men who suffer from the condition feel ashamed about it and confused about what is wrong.

Symptoms of POIS

The start of symptoms ranges from immediately to hours after orgasm, and the severity of symptoms can vary. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nasal congestion
  • Irritability or mood disturbances
  • Poor concentration
  • Impaired memory
  • Itchy eyes
  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Sweating
  • Incoherent speech

These symptoms may last between two to seven days before finally going away on their own. It should be noted here that some men with POIS can experience lifelong premature ejaculation. The symptoms of POIS may be generalised, or may gather in certain areas of the body. For example, individual men report their symptoms only affect their head, eyes, nose, throat, or muscles.

What Causes POIS?

The primary cause of POIS is not well understood. According to some scientists, it may be provoked by a semen allergy that causes an immediate hypersensitivity reaction. The Dutch professor Waldinger said while the syndrome is probably rare, it is likely that many men who suffer with it do not know it is a recognised condition and so do not present themselves to doctors.

Diagnosis of POIS

There is normally no agreed diagnostic criteria for POIS. However, one group has come up with five preliminary criteria for diagnosing POIS and they are:

  • One or more of related symptoms
  • Symptoms start manifesting immediately or a few minutes after ejaculation
  • Symptoms occur always or nearly always, for example, in more than 90% of ejaculation events
  • Most of these symptoms last for about 2 to 7 days
  • Symptoms go away on their own with one week

Treatment of POIS

There is generally no standard treatment for POIS, as there is limited information available on its management. However, some men with symptoms of the syndrome have been treated with SSRIs, antihistamines, and benzodiazepines. Furthermore, one study used hyposensitisation therapy to successfully treat two men with POIS. This type of therapy aims to decrease the immune response to an allergen by exposure. The men were injected every two weeks with increasing concentrations of their own semen. Although this therapy did not prevent symptoms entirely, both men reported a gradual improvement of symptoms over the treatment period. Nevertheless, hyposensitisation therapy may not be an option for all men with POIS, as it has been suggested that at least some cases of may not be due to a semen allergy.


It is worth noting that Postorgasmic Illness Syndrome is not a life-threatening condition. Nonetheless, it has a substantial impact on the quality of life for affected men and their partners. The disease’s prevalence is unknown and it is listed as a rare disease by the American National Institutes of Health and the European Orphanet. There is a possibility that a similar disease exists in women, though, as of 2016, there is only one documented female patient.


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