Sexual Curiosities: People Who Sneeze Every Time They Orgasm

Scientists and physicians have documented a number of fascinating sexual curiosities over the years, such as people who experience orgasms originating in their feet and men who are allergic to their own semen. One of the more interesting ones I’ve ever come across is a phenomenon known as sexually-induced sneezing, which is exactly what it sounds like. Here's what we know about it.

The first case was documented over a century ago, which involved a man who would sneeze uncontrollably at the mere thought of having sex [1]! Since then, researchers have discovered others with the same experience; however, they have also found some folks who have sneezing fits upon reaching orgasm [2].

Sexually-induced sneezing can affect both men and women. Although we don’t fully understand why it happens, the prevailing theory is that it has a neurological basis. Specifically, it is thought that there is an anomaly in the way some people's autonomic nervous systems are laid out [2]. What we’re talking about here is the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary bodily functions, including breathing, sweating, sneezing, and sexual arousal.

Scientists believe that some people’s “wires” are crossed in this part of the system, which leads their nerve signals to produce unexpected effects. Sneezing during sex is one such possibility—however, it’s worth noting that uncontrollable sneezing has been documented in response to non-sexual stimuli as well, including bright light or a full stomach. Thus, many different “cross-wirings” appear to be possible.

We don’t yet fully know the typical effects sexual sneezing has on the people who experience it, or their partners for that matter. For example, do the symptoms typically lead to avoidance of sexual thoughts or activity?

What we do know is that this seems to be rare. In fact, only a few dozen cases of sexually-induced sneezing have ever been reported in the medical literature.

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[1] Gould, G. M., & Pyle, W. L. (1901). Anomalies and curiosities of medicine. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.

[2] Bhutta, M. F., & Maxwell, H. (2008). Sneezing induced by sexual ideation or orgasm: An under-reported phenomenon. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 101, 587-591.

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