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)