Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome - why hasnt any professional looked into this seriously?

Submitted by Defsync on
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Books on the psychology of intimacy seem somewhat irrelevant when there are conditions such as Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome that are completely unknown to the medical community. How can one even begin to discern the psychology of sex when there is physiological conditions resulting from a simple orgasm that almost no doctors or researchers have any answers for? To me it seems similar to diagnosing someone with schizophrenia as "being possessed with spirits" instead, when in reality the schizophrenia is leaving holes in their brain that can be observed under a microscope.

So you have millions of couples who have sex, and any number of them could have POIS on some level, that affects their cognitive and emotional state on a physiological level, but the modern medical community has skipped over the reality of this physiological condition for the length of medical history. You have some reference based in ages old spiritual theology. Some monk, somewhere, realized that some feel negative effects after orgasm, but without the education of modern science, attributed it to some metaphysical condition.

This really pisses me off. Seriously. How medically advanced can we be when one of the most common physiological interactions between a women and man who are intimate is little understood physiologically? Instead billions are poured into "erectile dysfunction" medications. Hey, you got to research where the money is, right? Gotta love that.

I do apologize, but without anyone clearly understanding POIS, or the causes, or having the ability to measure its level of severity in a human being, I believe any psychological interpretation of the physiological neurological effects that occur after sex in human beings is relatively irrelevant and cannot be accepted as accurate.

As a sufferer of severe POIS, this is just my opinion, and of course it is probably jaded by the fact that after decades and billions of dollars, there isnt a doctor in the world who really has a clue about how to properly treat or cure this condition.

Thanks for sharing your frustration

Personally, I think humanity is just at the crest of the "orgasm-cures-all-our-problems" wave. It was a necessary wave, in my view. That is, I'm glad Kinsey (wrongly, as it turned out) insisted that "orgasm is a harmless outlet" and filled the textbooks of our sexologists with his assumption. That way we could all thoroughly test his theory...to the max!

That's showing us what moderation never would have - because moderation produces very few observable symptoms...other than creeping habituation between most lovers.

The "proof" of the truth is that symptoms after orgasm increase with the frequency of climax and intensity of stimulation...as the neurochemistry is starting to reveal. As soon as scientists really start looking for the clues, there will be even more proof of the reality.

The reality is that orgasm itself IS a harmless, delicious outlet, but the neurochemical cycle after it simply isn't. The hangover is pronounced in some, subtle in others, but always there...even in those who don't notice it. And it can change our perception toward our lover...and drive emotional distance. That sucks, given how healthful close, trusted companionship and affectionate touch are.

The interesting thing is that the benefits of cultivating sex more carefully...to gain its energetic gifts and intimacy health benefits...has been known for thousands of years. It's the last 60 years that are the blip on the screen. I believe things will turn around rather quickly once psychologists break free of their textbooks and face the facts.

Anyway, great to have you here. Feel free to blog your experiences.

experiences of POIS

I think saying things like "The reality is that orgasm itself IS a harmless, delicious outlet, but the neurochemical cycle after it simply isn't." is somewhat irresponsible (for lack of a more polite word, i do not want to be offensive), since it implies knowledge of the orgasm that no one in the medical community has yet. We have no idea yet how it completely works, all the reactions that occur, how all of the physiological tissues are affected... A lot of educated guesses, but nothing concrete. POIS, or negative physio effects from an O may not even involve any neurochemicals or endorphins at all and be an auto-immune reaction, or a physiological condition that occurs because we are missing a tissue structure in our brain, or because of a gene mutation we are missing an enzyme, or a part of the cell structure in our synapses, etc.

"That's showing us what moderation never would have - because moderation produces very few observable symptoms" In a christian based society where sex has been taboo for the majority of modern humanities existence, there could be a large percentage of people afflicted with POIS at some level. It's not that such symptoms would not be observable, it's that most of the people aren't open-minded enough to such a possibility that an O can have negative affects on them. Just like at one time ppl thought the earth was flat, or that it was okay to enslave another race, etc.

"The interesting thing is that the benefits of cultivating sex more carefully...to gain its energetic gifts and intimacy health benefits...has been known for thousands of years." It is safe to say that the majority of people who have O receive some sort of benefit, be it a relaxation effect of the biochemical processes involved, as a potent tool for meditative focus, or as specific biochem reactions that promote beneficial physiological effects. At the same time, it is also safe to say that even in a person who does not suffer from POIS, it may cause normally imperceptible negative affects as well. How do we know that a person doesn't suffer ~5% cognitive or memory recall loss from an O? No tests have ever been done to prove that it doesn't, although such a small % conclusion may be difficult to truly measure. Or how do we know that by not having an O, after a month, a person's cognitive or memory recall arent increased by a significant measure?

Most people probably wouldnt care about small % such as those. People eat poorly, smoke, drink, dont exercise, and live their lives as they wish with damaging habits, often quite happily. So maybe in a healthy person the physiological affects arent important.

blog about my experiences... i'll summarize: im completely abstinent. To have even one O under any circumstance, results in a severe loss of cognitive processing and memory recall. The best way I can describe this is, take a task you've done before. Now, after an O, your brain is knocked down many IQ levels to where that same task takes you 3 times longer to complete. Anything you do mentally is greatly affected. And nothing you can do changes that until days have passed, and your mental capacity returns to normal.

It means if I want to hold down a job, I cannot have any O's. Many jobs before I have had an O and the following day my boss asks what the @#$#@ is wrong with me, am I on drugs, why am I screwing up with tasks I've done a thousand times before, etc. And naturally, because the loss in my mental capacity is so severe.

It means I dont get to have a girlfriend or a wife, because in reality there aren't any that dont want to have intercourse at some point.

It means I have had to learn lucid dreaming (the ability to control one's dreams) in order to prevent nocturnal emissions. On top of that, to guarantee 100% ZERO emissions while I sleep, I take 2.5mgs of Flexeril (a low dose of a common muscle relaxer) at night, that deadens the nerves enough to ensure that success rate.

It means my eyes have been opened to how little the medical community really knows about the human orgasm, to the possibility that POIS may afflict countless tens of thousands of people on some level, that many people may incorrectly attribute psychological reasons behind problems in their relationships where sex occurs, that are actually the result of one of the partners suffering from POIS.

POIS afflicted me from the very first O on forward, unfortunately it has always been there.

Of the people who can have O's without any negative effects, I am rightly jealous =)

Wow

That's an impressive story.

I've got ADD, and on my worst days I can go through an entire day and get NOTHING done, on the job or otherwise. Unfortunately, I haven't found a reliable cure for the problem, although avoiding orgasms seems to help. (I've consistently avoided orgasms for a year now, although I've had a few dream orgasms.)

You said "It means I dont get to have a girlfriend or a wife, because in reality there aren't any that dont want to have intercourse at some point."

One of the things promoted by this site is karezza - making love without orgasm. Maybe that would work for you. You show your location as NW Ohio. Maybe there are some lurking women on this site who will get in touch with you. Wink

Also, check out celibatepassions.com, a free dating site for people who choose to be celibate for a variety of reasons.

Also, do a Google search for forums dedicated to asexuals. Those people seem to be pretty normal in most ways - they fall in love, get married, enjoy touching, cuddling and so on, some of them even have kids or want to have kids - they just have no interest in the sex act itself. So that might be another avenue for you to explore.

Good luck! Welcome to this site!

i wish =)

One of the things promoted by this site is karezza - making love without orgasm

I wish that were an option =)

However whatever chemical that causes that "feel good" sensation at the same time it causes you to involuntary contract the pubococcygeus muscle, is what causes my POIS. This means even stimulation without an O even causes POIS symptoms, tho much less than from a full-on O.

My current theory is this has to do with the histamine released from the mast cells in the genitalia that are supposedly responsible for the involuntary contraction of smooth muscle tissue during orgasm. Me thinks the histamine is causing the symptoms because my brain is unable to remove it through methylation of the histamine molecule and then oxidizing the result (which is how yer brain gets rid of histamine). The 3rd known Histamine receptor in the brain mediates the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. I think perhaps I have a deficiency in not histamine-N-methyltransferase (methylates histamine) but diamine oxidase (oxidizes the result), so the histamine is turned into N-methylhistamine and then collects in great quantities causing the POIS, until it's finally oxidized properly after 4-5 days. If I wasnt first being methylated, I believe my symptoms would be more like an allergic reaction, with more physical reactions rather than mostly cognitive. Of course I am no doctor, and this is just from my own research in a desperate attempt to find an answer. THere is a forum for POIS sufferers, the only one in the world where we gather and research and collect information in hopes of finding a cure for POIS.

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=6576.new#new

I'm always curious about

the science. I don't really know much about the brain's Histamine system, but your theory on your POIS symptoms raises a few physiological questions.

1) The Histamine released to cause smooth muscle contraction should stay localized. Are you saying it circulates and possibly cross the blood brain barrier? Or does contraction of genitalia smooth muscle activite the CNS histamine system.
The second choice would make physiological sense. The first doesn't make sense, as a large mount of histamine in circulation would cause anaphylaxis symptoms, and it would not be specific to one type of histamine receptor in the brain.

2) Just a note -The PC muscle is a skeletal muscle. It's activated by acetylcholine, not histamine. An erection of course involves smooth muscle and histamine, so both types of muscle may contract simultaneously. The rhythmic contractions of orgasm are due to the PC and associated skeletal muscle.

It's all very interesting.

(At least) two kinds of feel-good sensations

I've observed two kinds of feel-good sensations associated with sex. One is the feeling of penetration, felt on the surface of the penis. The other is the feeling of orgasm, and getting close to orgasm, which is felt in the region near the prostate.

It's possible to have the first kind of feelings without the second. Now, if the second type of feeling, let's call it the pre-orgasmic feeling, is the result of histamine release, or a certain threshold amount of histamine release, and you can avoid getting those pre-orgasmic feelings, then maybe karezza could be an option. It seems easy enough to test, without a partner: just masturbate gently, staying clear of the pre-orgasmic feelings, and see if you still get POIS.

And if karezza is not an option, there are still the asexual and other celibate women out there...

If even the arousal that comes from getting close to a woman is too much for you, you should be aware that extreme sensitivity to arousal with a "new" woman is normal, and quickly diminishes (within days) for some guys. So if you just persevere, you may be able to get past those obstacles and have a satisfying relationship with an asexual or celibate woman.

P.S. It occurs to me that a cure for POIS might also be sought after by normal people. Imagine: Harmonia, a different kind of "morning after" pill - banishes those post-orgasmic hangovers!

"If even the arousal that

"If even the arousal that comes from getting close to a woman is too much for you" no, that is fine =) In fact I've been working with this nice girl at work who wears pink-grapefruit perfume (makes me hungry for fruit cocktail jeez) and because of our work we brush up against each other occasionally =)

its the genital sensation that results in the contraction of the PC muscles, that causes a problem, even if there is no release of fluid.

but here's the other side.... maintaining 100% abstinence is uhm well not altogether easy. Entertaining even thoughts of intimacy or being non-sexually intimate could quite possible drive me insane, let alone messing around with other forms of non-sex sex =) and also make it difficult to maintain that level of celibacy, which is utterly important for me, especially if I want to do my best at my job.

Thanks for the details

Your insights are very interesting, and we'd agree with much of what you say about how widespread the phenomenon probably is. Thanks for being polite Wink , but, actually, I don't think it was irresponsible of me to point out that there's a cycle after orgasm. That much IS, definitely, known. There's a cycle that is at least 7 days long after ejaculation, and possibly as long as 15 days based on rats, and I'd be happy to supply the medical abstracts. Moreover, a psychiatrist in NYC has shown that it has unwelcome neurochemical aspects (as he affected it with psychotropic drugs). http://www.reuniting.info/science/sex_and_depression_in_the_brain_if_not...

That said, you're right that it would be nice to know more about the neurochemcial dominoes that make up the cycle, whatever its length. Although I think the cycle will have recognizable events in most of us, I think it will be slightly different for each person, and even each orgasm...it would require a fractal measurement. I think this research is coming, and I hope my book will help speed it along.

Have you read this book by a man about the joys of sex without orgasm? You may find it inspiring. It's reproduced in full here: http://www.reuniting.info/karezza_method_lloyd A friend was here for dinner last weekend. He gives workshops, and there was a gay guy in his workshop who spent years participating in the bath house promiscuity scene. It was his whole identity...and then he got prostate cancer. He's now grateful for the disease because he had to learn another form of intimacy...sensual touch without orgasm. To his surprise, he loves it.

Random thoughts

Since you can find an endocrinologist to discuss your other theories with, I'll share what I believe everyone needs...because it's my nature to cluck like a mother hen. Smile

You are a pair-bonding mammal...unlike, for example, a bonobo chimp. This means your nervous system is set up to benefit from close, trusted companionship in a mate. (Chimps, and we, get similar rewards from bonding with troop or tribe.) One of the neurochemicals that seems to account for both the desire to bond, and the benefits from bonding, is oxytocin. (It also does a lot of other stuff.) Without the right balance, we feel restless...as if something is wrong. This is a signal from our nervous system to meet our fundamental needs.

Oxytocin has been shown to reduce withdrawal symptoms and drug use in addicted mice. There are more and more studies about its possitive effects on humans, too. For example, warm touch lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and increases oxytocin in couples...and more so in men than women.

Here's my theory. Your nervous system is hungry for this type of healthy touch, which really needs to be daily...even for a short time...to give you the most benefits. When you get near a source of this contact (even in your dreams), your system sets off a huge spike of dopamine (a YESSS!!!). When dopamine goes too high, it then plummets (which we think is a big part of the hangover after orgasm - have you read these articles? http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200908/orgasm-... or http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200908/the-pas... ?). Dopamine is behind sexual arousal and all addictions. This drop after the peak has been seen in drug users, too.

Moreover, without contact, you're not getting the oxytocin that would somewhat mute the effects of fluctuating dopamine. You just get sent on another pointless roller coaster ride, with a nasty hangover.

Now, let me jump to the experience of Gary and me when we first got together. We decided to try the Exchanges (a program of nightly affection, which doesn't call for intercourse until week three). Gary was restless for about three nights. I was, too. Fortunately we were giggling and snuggling so much that the restlessness was bearable.

But here's the amazing thing. Around day three, our nervous systems calmed down. The attraction between us was just as strong, but that hyper dose of honeymoon neurochemistry eased. We could sleep. We still felt great...but not as jittery and more peaceful. In other words, our chemistry had shifted.

This shift still continues, for all I know. It turns out that the more oxytocin produced, at least in some circumstances, the more nerve cell receptors for it sprout on nerve cells. This makes a positive feedback loop, where affection becomes even more soothing and beneficial over time. Certainly Gary's chronic depression and alcoholism have gone...and after eight years, we're pretty optimistic.

See these remarks by a husband who actually noticed this beneficial feedback from daily affection: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200909/the-laz...

So here's my suggestion. If you care to try a completely different approach...next time you have a vacation, receive a daily massage...for at least five days. (You may be able to do a trade with a massage therapist for some of it.) You may find your system backfires at first, but keep going. See if you begin to come back into balance.

It may be that a sweetheart IS the solution to your problems, and that the seeming barrier in your nervous system is more of a veil than a brick wall.

Oxytocin, cytokines

I appreciate that feedback =) I would like to note Oxytocin is regularly released as a gastric emptier as part of normal digestive processes. I notice this greatly after eating large meals, it's easier for me to relax in a chair, and I can feel my muscles much more relaxed. So, at one point I ruled out Oxytocin (or a lack of it, that I dont have) as a possible culprit in my POIS.

I am able to achieve much of the same amount of relaxation one gets from a good massage through audio-led meditation. "It may be that a sweetheart IS the solution to your problems, and that the seeming barrier in your nervous system is more of a veil than a brick wall." Heh I have had more than a few girlfriends and even a wife at one point in an attempt to use "love" and "bonding" as a possible solution, but they were all to no avail =( I even spent 4 years in the marine corps infantry, hoping the incredible amount of exercise would have some positive affect, it didnt =P

However, I am kinda thrilled today, because I came across something new:

I was listening to NPR today about chemo-brain (info here: http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default.asp?page=40136)

symptoms:
* Memory loss – forgetting things that you normally remember
* Difficulty thinking of the right word for a particular object
* Difficulty following the flow of a conversation
* Trouble concentrating or focusing on one thing
* Difficulty doing more than one thing at a time (multi tasking)
* More difficulty doing things you used to do easily, such as adding up in your head
* Fatigue (tiredness and lack of energy)
* Confusion
* Mental fogginess

Okay why am i mentioning this, one of the POIS sufferers on the Naked Scientist forums mentioned cytokines... the doctor in the NPR interview said that most of the of the people who exhibit these symptoms post-chemo have high level of cytokines in their blood. And they dont know yet why the cytokines could be the cause.

The Cytokines in chemo-therapy result from an auto-immune response. Maybe for some of us the POIS is a auto-immune reaction triggering large amounts of these cytokines to be released. Once I have the health insurance again, I am definitely doing to get this panel done (there exists a Cytokine panel of blood testing that can be done: http://www.lef.org/Vitamins-Supplements/ItemLCCYT/Cytokine-Panel---IL1b-...) after a few O's (god that will be a crappy week at work lolz =)

Even in healthy males, studies (like this one: http://content.karger.com/ProdukteDB/produkte.asp?Aktion=ShowAbstract&Ar...) have shown that an O causes an immuno-reaction by the human body.

Hmmm...

Glad you have a new lead. Since you probably haven't poked around much on this site, you may not realize that sex with orgasm delivers two sets of subconscious messages. Sexual satiety sets off a hangover (which you know all too well). Non-goal-oriented affection actually soothes the nervous system.

I was suggesting the latter...not just "a girlfriend or wife," with whom you presumably had orgasmic sex, and likely did not conduct a daily "affectionate touch" program...especially given how wiped out you are after orgasm. While meditation is great...it's not human touch.

Also, as a non-scientist, I didn't realize that the *same* neurochemicals typically do lots of very different jobs in the body. Oxytocin does lots of different things depending upon the activities of other neurochemicals, and which nerve cell receptors are "open for business" in the brain or out in the body. Oxytocin doesn't automatically do *all* those things though.

Similarly, you could inject vasopressin in the brain in the right spot and strengthen a male's desire to protect his mate...but in the gut that same neurochemical is solely related to diuretic effects (if I remember rightly). So the situation is infinitely complex. In other words, what oxytocin does in your gut is pretty much irrelevant to it's ability to soothe certain parts of your brain.

Interesting abstract you shared about sex and the immune system. It made me think of how too much sex depresses the immune system of this little Australian animal:

Males of the furry little marsupial species (Antechinus stuartii) are so preoccupied with copulation that they destroy their own immune systems, and die of various diseases at the conclusion of mating season. When scientists furnish the animals with some artificial will power by tempering their male sex hormones, their immune systems keep them in working order.

Maybe your body is defending you against such a danger. Wink

Pois.

I've suffered from pois for6 yrs now it started ever since i took some enlargement pills ordered from the internet. I had 2 pills a day for ONLY 2 WEEKS every pill everyday when i took them i felt all the symptoms of pois and now six years later i still feel the same symptoms everysingle time i orgasm or even if i dont orgasm i imediately get mild symptoms.

I think it could of given me nero toxicity. Anyway I am going to go see a neurologist mabye the specialist can help somehow. It is very saddening and i struggle with work everweek. I am ever so scared of nocturnal activities while i'm asleep because the very next day at work is a struggle. It takes around 5 days to completly dissapear.
I have had to stop doing the things i Love, like for instance horse riding, i was going to lessons to become a jumper but pois has stopped me from going back because of cognitive problems every DAMN WEEK when POIS starts.
I hope a cure or some type of control of it from medical help comes quickly because it feels like life isnt worth living because we cant do normal things like everone else can and live a normal life of hobbies and adventure like going to horse riding lessons, or owning a business.
There are cases already of people comitting suicide from this pois problem. Only because no one can help us. The only people we can turn to for help are the doctors, but they them self dont know shit and can't help us either.
If humans can succeed in brain surgery cure cancers even control to certain dagrees and help Aids victims. Surely doctors and scientists can pull their finger out and help us millions of people in every country who suffer from POIS.
Regards MR Jeffery. Have a nice day. :) :(

*sigh*

I'm sorry to hear you're having trouble. It's true that doctors have a bit of catching up to do about POIS. For those who don't know what it is, see this: http://www.reuniting.info/science/post_orgasmic_illness_syndrome

I hope you find relief, too. And I'm very sorry that you felt the need to try those drugs. I fear that both men and women are getting very false impressions of normal human genitalia, thanks to the Porn Phenomenon.

I'm curious, why do you have weekly ejaculations? Are they nocturnal emissions or deliberate?

Do you have a sweetheart? My thought is that a few weeks of bonding behaviors might help regulate your brain again. http://www.reuniting.info/lazy_way_to_stay_in_love But you'd both have to be willing to avoid climax and really focus on nurturing each other. Have you tried daily meditation? There are some here: http://www.reuniting.info/favorite_meditations Research is showing surprising benefits from daily mindfulness meditation.

I've enabled you to blog, so feel free to share more of your thoughts and feelings.

*big hug*