[Two Pronged] Does my boyfriend have post-orgasmic illness syndrome?

[Two Pronged] Does my boyfriend have post-orgasmic illness syndrome?
'Sometimes, he asks if we can abstain from sex for a while because he hates the feeling of getting sick after we make love'

 Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.

Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,

I’m writing to ask you about POIS (post orgasmic illness syndrome). I think my boyfriend has this. Every time we make love, he immediately feels flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle pains that last for a week.

It’s debilitating on his part as because he’s feeling really ill, he can’t go to work anymore and it caused him his job. Sometimes, he asks if we can abstain from sex for a while because he hates the feeling of getting sick after we make love. I thought I may have been the problem, if he’s allergic to my fluids, but we tried one time to just make out, and he ejaculated by himself, only to have the same outcome.

We conclude that every time he jacks off whether thru sex or just masturbation, he gets sick.

I love him so much and I want to help him get thru this. Can you give us an advice? Have you encountered such case?

Please keep me anonymous.


Loving Girlfriend

Dear Loving Girlfriend (LG),

The internet is both boon and bane. It is a boon because it makes an almost infinite amount of information available with just a few keystrokes. It is a bane because it is very difficult sometimes to determine how accurate that information is. This is particularly the case with medical matters where diagnosis by internet is prevalent and every Tom Dick and Harry now feels he’s a medical expert. I mention this because your email implies that you have not resorted to a medical professional for diagnosis and possible treatment.

Presuming however that your boyfriend (let’s call him Bill) does indeed suffer from POIS, I can imagine the anguish that you both must feel given this rare disease’s symptoms and the steps necessary to eliminate them. Having to choose between ejaculating and a week’s flu (among other things) must be taxing indeed.

While the immediately obvious solutions of timing sexual activity to say vacations or abstaining totally are scarcely attractive options, it seems that there are some remedies which have had a degree of success, namely SSRIs, antihistamines, and benzodiazepines. Needless to say, professional diagnosis is recommended since a) these may not be appropriate in Bill’s case and b) some other drug might be deterimental.

There is another more esoteric possibility, details of which are set out in the book The Tao of Love and Sex by Jolan Chang. The author asserts that there is a clear distinction between orgasm and ejaculation and that one can train oneself to enjoy orgasms without ejaculating. Indeed, he goes on to maintain that one of the secrets to good health in old age is to limit, if not eliminate, one’s ejaculations. It is worthy of note that in addition to advocating male restraint, the Tao also advocates the importance of female pleasure.

If you and Bill were to embrace this philosophy, it is entirely possible that Bill would have no further problems and your joint sex lives would be significantly improved.

All the best,

JAF Baer

Dear LG (Loving Girlfriend),

Thank you very much for your letter and thank you too, Mr Baer, for coming up with these two wonderful ideas that I feel bear repeating:

Jolan Chang’s book, The Tao of Love and Sex: The Ancient Chinese Way to Ecstasy, is an exceptionally well written book that my UP graduate students learned lots from (or so they reassured me). As Mr Baer suggests, Bill might want to incorporate these principles, but always with the relevant (required) experts around.

You need a bio/genetic/medical and not merely a psychosocial perspective to deal with POIS. True, POIS has many psychological repercussions (one beautiful one is the realization that you “love him so much and I want to help him get thru this”); however POIS seems more like it has an overwhelmingly biogenetic, rather than a psychosocial source.

In other words, please explore/examine/RESEARCH more on your boyfriend’s condition because research, patience, grit and the right blend of people is what you will need to help alleviate his symptoms.

I would start with this and take it from there.

It suggests contacting advocacy organizations, clinical trials, articles published in medical journals, a tertiary university or medical center because these centers tend to see more complex cases and have the latest technology and treatments, contacting national or international specialists, and also Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome (POIS) Forum

In addition to the meds Mr Baer mentioned, options include the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) just prior to and for a day or two after ejaculation, and/or hyposensitization therapy (decrease the immune response to an allergen by exposure, and is based on the theory that POIS is caused by an allergy to one’s own semen). This is the reason Bill should explore the possible repercussions should he try out Professor Cheng’s advice. There are still other treatment options available.

POIS is not life-threatening, thank gods and goddesses. However, the decrease in sexual activity, the necessity for planning each encounter or suffering not only physically but also in other ways (NB: Bill’s job loss), exploration of avenues you strongly feel might be THE solution, only to find that they are not, can leave one debilitated and depressed.

What might help? Not only realizing but then also accepting that there will not be THE one and only perfect solution that alleviates symptoms immediately, and completely and totally free of pain. Like the rest of life you are grateful for a lot of things that you wish could be better but are not, yet you accept them anyway.

Bill and you have a lot of researching to do and hypotheses to test. But with enough grit and grace, discipline and determination, love and humor, your tomorrows can be better than today.

Good luck,

MG Holmes

– Rappler.com

Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email twopronged@rappler.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.

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