It might sound absurd enough to be a joke, but some men really are allergic to their own semen. “In medical terms, this is known as postorgasmic illness syndrome (POIS),” says Bayo Tojuola, a board-certified urologist in Houston. “It usually involves experiencing flu-like symptoms shortly after each ejaculation — symptoms can set in anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours afterward. On average, symptoms begin to set in 64 minutes after ejaculating and they get worse for two days before they begin to resolve. The most common symptoms involve concentration difficulties, fatigue, feeling feverish, being quickly irritated and having headaches.”
“We have no sense of the overall prevalence of POIS among men, but it’s thought to be quite rare,” Tojuola continues. “I’ve seen two or three case reports on this emerge over the last decade or so, as well as one larger study that had a sample of 45 men. The larger study revealed that about half of the men reported that they remembered having POIS symptoms since the time of their very first ejaculation; the other half seemed to develop the allergy later in life.”
Furthermore, according to Tojuola, scientists have confirmed that this isn’t an allergy to sex or to a partner’s body fluids. “It is indeed an allergy to one’s own semen,” he explains. “When men with POIS masturbate or have sex without ejaculating, they don’t experience any symptoms at all.”
Scientists aren’t sure, however, what causes this. “We just know that some component of the semen is triggering a serious immune response in these guys,” explains Tojuola. “Fortunately, medical treatment is possible.”
In fact, according to Tojuola, a recent study found that immunotherapy is highly effective and can reduce POIS symptom complaints by 60 to 90 percent. “The treatment involves injecting small doses of a man’s own semen under his skin on a regular basis in an attempt to make his body less sensitive to it,” Tojuola says.
Of course, there has to be a “happy ending.”