Fainting after an orgasm can be scary. In most cases, it is not the orgasm itself that causes a person to faint, but the circumstances surrounding it. Low blood sugar, intense sex, fatigue, and even anxiety may trigger fainting. People who pass out after an orgasm usually do not need to worry.
Fainting has many benign causes and is not usually a major cause for concern.
However, as several serious heart conditions may cause fainting episodes, it is important to see a doctor to discuss fainting. Anyone who hits their head when they faint, faints multiple times in a row, or cannot stay awake will need emergency medical care.
In this article, we discuss seven possible reasons why a person might faint after orgasm and suggest tips that may help.
In some cases, a person may be able to determine the cause of fainting after an orgasm by considering what they were doing before they fainted, as well as how they felt. A person who engaged in long and exhausting sex is more likely to hyperventilate or be hungry or thirsty, while a person who feels anxious about sex may faint from breathing issues or anxiety itself.
Vasovagal syncope is the most common type of fainting. It happens when a person’s blood pressure suddenly drops, temporarily depriving the brain of oxygen, and it results in the person falling unconscious.
It occurs when the vagus nerve, which regulates heart rate and blood vessel constriction temporarily loses normal regulation due to overstimulation. As a result, the blood vessels widen, blood pressure drops, and the person faints.
Many factors can cause this type of fainting, including:
- standing up too quickly
- anxiety, such as anxiety about masturbation or sex
- sudden trauma
- caffeine or alcohol
After an orgasm, a person may lie down or feel a rush of emotions that increase the risk of vagus nerve overstimulation. If a person uses drugs during sex, these may also play a role.
Although most people do not need treatment for vasovagal syncope, it is a good idea to see a doctor so that they can rule out other possible causes.
Hyperventilation during an orgasm or intense sexual activity can reduce the amount of oxygen flowing to the brain, which may cause a person to faint.
People who feel anxious about sex may also hyperventilate during an orgasm or shortly afterward. Once a person’s breathing returns to normal, the risk of fainting passes.
Hunger and thirst
Sometimes, sex or masturbation can temporarily distract a person from other physical needs, such as water and food. Intense sexual activity is a lot like aerobic exercise, also increasing a person’s need for water and oxygen. So, if a person does not drink enough water, they can become dehydrated and even pass out.
Sexual pleasure may likewise distract a person from their hunger. Low blood sugar can cause fainting. The risk of fainting is higher in people with certain medical conditions, including those with diabetes on blood glucose-lowering medications.
Stress and anxiety
While an orgasm itself might be pleasurable, the sensations surrounding it might not be. Some people feel anxious or ashamed about sex.
Anxiety and stress can cause fainting in several ways. A person might hyperventilate, depriving the brain of oxygen. Anxiety may also cause vasovagal syncope, which causes a sudden drop in blood pressure. In some cases, anxiety may distract a person from their basic need for food or water, causing hunger- or dehydration-related fainting.
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) causes too little blood to flow back to the heart when a person changes position, often when going from sitting or lying down to standing. Similar to vasovagal syncope, it can cause blood pressure to drop very low suddenly.
Following an orgasm, POTS can happen when a person stands, or if they changed position frequently or quickly during sex. Most people with POTS do not have an underlying medical condition, but some may have heart arrhythmias or circulation disorders.
Heart health problems
Rarely, fainting may warn of a problem with the heart or the circulatory system. Some health issues that may cause a person to pass out after orgasm include:
A person’s risk of a serious heart problem is higher if they:
- are 70 years of age or older
- have a family history of heart disease
- have a family history of sudden death
- have risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol
- experience dizziness or fainting after exercise
Some people deliberately pass out during an orgasm or attempt to induce feelings of dizziness that lead to fainting. People may refer to this as autoerotic asphyxiation.
People do it by trying to cut off their supply of oxygen or decrease blood flow to their brain. It is extremely dangerous and can even be lethal.
After fainting, the following may help:
- focusing on slow, regular, deep breathing
- talking to another person, which can help ease anxiety and normalize breathing
- drinking a glass of water and consuming salt
- eating a small, nourishing meal or drinking a smoothie to elevate blood sugar
It is also advisable to call a doctor. Fainting does not usually mean that a person has a serious medical condition, but it is important to talk to a doctor anyway. A doctor can usually determine over the phone whether there is an emergency. In some cases, the doctor may recommend coming in during the next few days for testing.
People who feel dizzy or as though they are going to faint should sit or lie down to reduce the risk of injury. If possible, they should tell someone else what is happening so that they can monitor the person and call for help if necessary.
Some people find that elevating the legs above the head helps. Drinking water, eating, and deep breathing may also prevent fainting.
Other strategies may also work, depending on the reason for fainting. For instance, people who experience anxiety-related dizziness may prevent fainting by tensing up the legs, which can improve blood flow to the brain. Tensing or locking the legs, however, may make other causes of fainting worse. A doctor can offer advice on the best prevention strategy.
People who faint for the first time should call a doctor. Individuals with a history of fainting should call a doctor if:
- their pattern of fainting changes
- a doctor has advised them to call about additional fainting episodes
- they have other symptoms, such as heart palpitations
A person will need emergency care if they:
- hit their head very hard after fainting
- lose consciousness for more than a few seconds
- have intense chest pain
- faint multiple times in a row
- feel confused, and food and water do not improve the symptoms
Fainting can be scary, especially following a moment of intense pleasure. However, fainting following an orgasm is not usually a cause for concern.
Most people who faint after an orgasm will not do so again, and there is no reason to avoid sexual activities or masturbation.
Talking to a doctor can provide clarity and peace of mind if the cause is benign. If the cause is serious, prompt treatment is important to prevent worsening symptoms and further complications.