We asked a sexologist if the theory about sneezing and orgasms was true -- here's what she said

Woman sneezing. Photo: Getty Images

There’s a theory that if you sneeze six or seven times in a row, the sensation can be like a mild orgasm.

We decided to do a little digging and while we discovered a few forum threads and blog posts where people swore it was true, there was no scientific research to back up their claims.

There were, however, other curious instances involving sneezing and “sexual ideation” — orgasms.

One interesting case was a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association of 1972, describing a 69-year-old man who complained of severe sneezing immediately following orgasm.

Hypothesized parasympathetic summation as a trigger for sneezing. Image: JRSM 2008.

It’s the wrong way around, but still suggests a connection between the two. And it was researched by surgery registrar Mahmood F Bhutta and consultant psychiatrist Harold Maxwell in a paper submitted to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 2008.

The pair surmised that a “mechanism of parasympathetic summation” was the cause, and that this mechanism may also account for other reported unusual causes of sneezing, such as exposure to light and fullness of stomach.

Still, this doesn’t explain the theory that sneezing multiple times can feel just like an orgasm.

So we reached out to sexologist Vanessa Thompson from The University of Sydney and asked her whether this was true and if not, why the myth persists.

Here’s what she said:

This myth commonly does the rounds and people say that sneezing a certain number of times in a row is equivalent to an orgasm.

The number of times you are supposedly required to sneeze varies. I think for some people sneezing might feel good but for most it is plain annoying. The couples I see are arguing about who has to, rather than who gets to, clean the sneeze-inducing dust ridden corners of the home. I don’t think this would be the case if sneezing was remotely like an orgasm.

I also don’t think any of my clients that wanted more sex would be too impressed or satisfied if I suggested they take up sneezing to compensate for their lack of sex.

Sneezing and orgasms both produce feel-good chemicals called endorphins but the amount produced by a sneeze is far less than an orgasm and there is no cumulative effect with sneezing so no amount of sneezing is going to feel like an orgasm. If sneezing was the equivalent to orgasms I imagine we would see a lot more pepper sales and a lot less brothels.

The other thing that sneezing and orgasms have in common are that they are both involuntary reflexes.

While sneezing is not really like an orgasm, sneezing can be brought on by sexual arousal in some people. This is believed to be as a result of crossed wires in the autonomic nervous system. The nose surprisingly also contains erectile tissue which may become engorged when someone is sexually aroused thus triggering a sneeze or two.

Unfortunately consecutive sneezes won’t leave you feeling like you’ve had an orgasm but you may want to check with your doctor about allergies.

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