After Orgasm: A Range of Reactions

After Orgasm: A Range of Reactions

Orgasm is sometimes described as an out-of-the-body experience. We’d add that it’s a full-body experience, too. Think about the body parts involved: Your eyes see your partner’s smile; your skin receives touch. Your brain sends signals through your nervous system, telling your genitals to start getting ready for the main event. Your blood pumps harder. Your breathing quickens. And then, if things go as planned, you and your partner climax – sometimes together, but more often separately.

Given what happens to your body during orgasm, it’s probably not surprising that body it can respond in a variety of ways afterward. Such responses can be pleasant, like intimate pillow talk with your partner. Or they can be painful, like getting a sex headache.

Sometimes, people report unusual events during or after orgasm, like hallucinations or temporary hearing loss. There is even a story of orgasms starting in a woman’s left foot!

Below are some of the things that can happen to you after an orgasm. Keep in mind that all orgasms can be different. And no two people experience orgasm quite the same way.

  • Bonding with your partner.  At orgasm, the body releases a hormone called oxytocin, which is sometimes called the “love hormone.” When this happens, partners tend to feel especially close. (Touch can trigger the release of oxytocin, too.)
  • Better sleep. Another hormone the body releases during orgasm is prolactin, which can make you drowsy. Women might get a double benefit here – estrogen released during orgasm can be good for sleep, too.
  • Post-sex blues. Have you ever felt inexplicably sad or irritated after sex, even if it was a pleasant encounter? You might be experiencing postcoital dysphoria (PCD) – the “post-sex blues.” This condition affects women who may feel more emotionally sensitive after bonding with their partner during intercourse. However, doctors aren’t sure of the exact cause.
  • Sex Headaches. Some people develop severe headaches during sexual activity, especially after orgasm. Generally, sex headaches are not serious, but if you get them, talk to your doctor. They can be managed with medication.
  • Postorgasmic illness syndrome (POIS). Men with POIS experience flu-like symptoms, like fatigue, fever, and nasal congestion, for a few days after they ejaculate. POIS is rare. Scientists aren’t exactly sure what causes it, although some believe it’s an allergic reaction to semen.
  • Sneezing. For some, just thinking about sex triggers a fit of sneezing. For others, it occurs after orgasm. Either way, scientists don’t know why it happens. One possible explanation is a disconnect in the autonomic nervous system, which controls functions we don’t necessarily think about, like breathing and digestion, as well as sneezing and sexual response.
  • Seizures. Also known as orgasmolepsy, seizures following orgasm are rare, but do happen.

If you are concerned about of these post-orgasm feelings or events, don’t hesitate to discuss them with your doctor.


Tanner, Claudia and Alexandra Thompson

“Eight weird things that can happen after you climax - including an orgasm in your FOOT, hallucinations and sneezing!”

(May 30, 2017)


Hillin, Taryn

“Why do some people sneeze when sexually aroused?”

(January 4, 2016)

The Guardian

Randerson, James

“Sneezing uncontrollably after sex may be more common than realized”

(December 19, 2008)

Braca, Nina

“7 Weird Things That Can Happen After You Orgasm”

(June 19, 2017)

Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine

Bhutta, Mahmood F. and Harold Maxwell

“Sneezing induced by sexual ideation or orgasm: an under-reported phenomenon”

(Full-text. December 1, 2008)


Rettner, Rachael

“Woman's 'Foot Orgasm' Is First Known Case”

(June 28, 2013)

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

“Postorgasmic illness syndrome”

(Last updated: June 19, 2017)

You may also be interested in...

Other Popular Articles

What Is Jelqing, and Does It Actually Work?

The term “jelqing” refers to a set of penis stretching exercises that some believe can make the penis bigger. Although the practice has gained attention and popularity in blogs and internet forums in recent years, there is no scientific evidence that it is an effective way to permanently increase the size of one’s penis. In fact, in some cases, jelqing may actually cause damage to the penis, so it is a good idea to get all the facts before setting off to try it.

What Is the Average Penis Size?

If you have ever wondered how your penis compares to others in terms of size, you are not alone. Many men are curious to know how their penises stack up compared to the average. Unfortunately, general curiosity can sometimes give way to full-on obsession and anxiety about penis size. This can be an unhealthy and often unnecessary fixation, especially because most men who think their penises are too small have perfectly normal-sized penises.

What Is Sensate Focus and How Does It Work?

Sensate focus is a technique used to improve intimacy and communication between partners around sex, reduce sexual performance anxiety, and shift away from ingrained, goal-oriented sexual patterns that may not be serving a couple.

What Is Edging and Why Do People Do It?

Edging is the practice of stopping sexual stimulation before reaching orgasm to prolong a sexual experience. The term stems from the concept of approaching the metaphorical “edge” of orgasm but stopping before going over the edge.

Can Sex Reduce Menstrual Cramps?

The SMSNA periodically receives and publishes ‘guest editorials.’ The current article was submitted by Mia Barnes, a freelance writer and researcher who specializes in women's health, wellness, and healthy living. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine.

Having sex while you experience menstrual cramps is healthy and can provide significant benefits. While it might not be the first activity that comes to mind when your PMS or period cramping begins, many people enjoy sex to reduce menstrual cramps, experience increased pleasure and benefit from other advantages. Learn more about having sex while menstrual cramps are happening and how it can help your body.

Can Sex Throw off Your Vaginal pH Balance?

The SMSNA periodically receives and publishes ‘guest editorials.’ The current article was submitted by Mia Barnes, a freelance writer and researcher who specializes in women's health, wellness, and healthy living. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine.

Your vagina is a pretty powerful organ. It is a pathway for menstrual blood and babies. It also is a main player in sexual intercourse. You might hear about your vagina’s pH and worry that yours is at risk. Here’s what to know about vaginal pH, including the impacts sex could have.

Find a Provider

Find a provider who specializes in sexual medicine in your area.