Postorgasmic Illness Syndrome (POIS) in 45 Dutch caucasian males: clinical characteristics and evidence for an immunogenic pathogenesis (Part 1)

J Sex Med. 2011 Apr;8(4):1164-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.02166.x. Epub 2011 Jan 17.

Abstract

Introduction: Postorgasmic illness syndrome (POIS) is a combination of local allergic symptoms and transient flu-like illness. In this study, the investigators propose five preliminary criteria to establish the diagnosis.

Aim: To describe the clinical details in 45 males being suspected of having POIS and to test an immunogenic hypothesis as the underlying mechanism of their presentations.

Methods: Forty-five males were studied according to standardized protocol, including neuropsychiatric and medical sexological evaluations; their complaints were categorized using their own words, and their self-perceived intravaginal ejaculation latency time (IELT). Skin-prick testing with autologous diluted semen in 33 men were also performed.

Main outcome measures: Clinical features of POIS including self-perceived IELTs and the results of skin-prick testing with autologous diluted seminal fluid.

Results: Of the 45 included men, 33 subjects consented with skin-prick testing. Of them, 29 (88%) men had a positive skin-prick test with their own (autologous) semen, and four had a negative test. In 87% of men, POIS symptoms started within 30 minutes after ejaculation. Complaints of POIS were categorized in seven clusters of symptoms, e.g., general, flu-like, head, eyes, nose, throat, and muscles. Local allergic reactions of eyes and nose were reported in 44% and 33% of subjects, a flu-like syndrome in 78% of subjects, exhaustion and concentration difficulties in 80% and 87% of subjects. Of all subjects, 58% had an atopic constitution. Lifelong premature ejaculation, defined as self-perceived IELT < 1 minute, was reported in 25 (56%) of subjects.

Conclusions: The combination of allergic and systemic flu-like reactions post-ejaculation together with a positive skin-prick test in the majority of males underscores the hypothesis of an "immunogenic" etiology of POIS, e.g., that POIS is caused by Type-1 and Type-IV allergy to the males' own semen, as soon it is triggered by ejaculation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Ejaculation*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Male
  • Men's Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Self Concept
  • Self-Assessment
  • Semen*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Syndrome
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Immunoglobulin E