Here’s Why You May Feel Nauseous After Sex, According to Ob-Gyns

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Even with the best sexual aftercare, nausea after sex is a very real phenomenon. According to Shieva Ghofrany, MD, FACOG, a board-certified ob-gyn and advisory board member for PS’s Condition Center, while it’s not necessarily common to feel nauseous after sex, it’s also not unheard of. The issue is that there’s isn’t much research on the topic, so it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason behind this phenomenon. That said, if your stomach feels unsettled after sex, it’s important to get to the bottom of it. Thankfully, there are a few common factors that experts believe may be contributing to nausea after sex, including cervical stimulation and painful intercourse. Ahead, we asked MDs to break down the existing research and explain why you may feel nauseous after sex. Read on to see what they had to say about potential causes, helpful treatments, and when to consider seeking additional medical care.

Why Do I Feel Nauseous After Sex?

Nausea after sex can occur for a number of reasons, from cervical stimulation to sexual aversion disorder. Here are some of the most common culprits, according to ob-gyns.

Cervical Stimulation

One of the most likely reasons for nausea after sex has to do with the cervix — the gatekeeper between your vaginal canal and your uterus. Dr. Ghofrany notes that the cervix has many nerve endings, including the vagus nerve, which is responsible for regulating internal organ functions such as digestion, heart rate, and certain reflexes like coughing and vomiting. This means that cervical stimulation during sex can sometimes cause complications.

“Contact with your cervix during sex, or cervical stimulation, can create a vasovagal response in which your blood pressure and pulse drop,” says Lauren Streicher, MD, an ob-gyn and medical director of Northwestern Medicine’s Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause. Certain sex positions or deep penetration may exacerbate this cervical stimulation and make your nausea worse. “The pain that sometimes occurs with penetrative sex, for certain people, can cause a vasovagal response with nausea,” Dr. Ghofrany explains, noting that pain should always be evaluated. Your cervix also changes throughout your cycle, dropping lower during your period, which may make you more susceptible to nausea after penetrative sex.

Post-Orgasmic Illness Disorder

If your symptoms expand beyond nausea, you may be dealing with post-orgasmic illness disorder. “It’s described as a flu-like state,” says Sarah Cigna, MD, MS, FACOG, IF, assistant professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and director of the SAGA (Sexual Health and Gender Affirmation Center). Symptoms include headaches, nausea, and extreme fatigue following an orgasm, all of which can last anywhere from 2-7 days. “It’s very disabling, so these patients, they’ll often avoid sexual activity completely,” Dr. Cigna says. We still don’t know exactly what causes this condition, but treatment may include hormone modulators or beta-blockers.

Painful Sex

Painful sex could be the result of an underlying health condition, but it can also contribute to nausea. “Women with endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease may experience painful intercourse,” Dr. Streicher says. Other factors that may play a role in painful sex and nausea include vaginal or cervical infections and fibroids, which are noncancerous growths in the uterus. Dr. Ghofrany adds that intense uterine contractions (as a result of orgasm) can also increase the likelihood of painful sex and nausea — as can lack of foreplay before sex. Regardless of the exact reason, “If you experience any type of intercourse that is painful, you should see a gynecologist,” Dr. Streicher says.

Hyperventilation

Dr. Ghofrany says it’s possible the way you breathe could make you feel sick after sex. “[Nausea] can also occur due to hyperventilation from the breathing pattern that can precede an orgasm,” she says. On a related note, slow, deep breathing can help relax the vagus nerve (which we know is also tied to post-sex nausea).

Sexual Aversion Disorder

If you consistently feel nauseous after sex, it’s also important to know about potential psychological factors. “The most common reason for nausea after sex would be from a physical trigger,” Dr. Ghofrany explains — namely trauma. “People who have had sexual trauma in the past may experience nausea, even in the absence of a currently traumatic sexual experience,” Dr. Ghofrany says More rarely, nausea is a symptom of a psychological condition known as sexual aversion disorder. “We don’t know how often it occurs in women, but we know that it can stem from past sexual trauma, or being brought up in a very religious atmosphere where sex was ‘bad,'” Dr. Streicher says. The DSM defines sexual aversion disorder as the extreme avoidance of all sexual contact with a partner, causing distress or interpersonal difficulty. Treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy or anxiety medication can help, so always discuss any specific concerns with your doctor for the best medical advice.

How to Treat Nausea After Sex

According to the experts, the best way to treat nausea is to figure out the root cause. For example, Dr. Ghofrany explains that if you’re experiencing nausea after sex due to a vasovagal response from cervical stimulation, then ensuring adequate hydration and steady blood glucose levels may help reduce symptoms. Likewise, if uterine contractions are contributing to nausea and discomfort, taking NSAIDs before intercourse may help with “spasm-like” pain. Still, every person and situation is unique, so for the best personalized medical advice, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Generally speaking, Dr. Ghofrany recommends seeking medical attention for any type of pain associated with sex. This can help protect you from more serious complications like infections, pelvic masses, or pelvic inflammatory disease. Additionally, if your nausea persists even after trying to address potential triggers, it’s always a good idea to discuss with your doctor.

— Additional reporting by Chandler Plante

Emily Shiffer is a freelance writer living in Pennsylvania. She is a former online staffer at Men’s Health who currently writes about the latest health and wellness trends for POPSUGAR.

Chandler Plante is an assistant editor for POPSUGAR Health & Fitness. Previously, she worked as an editorial assistant for People magazine and contributed to Ladygunn, Millie, and Bustle Digital Group. In her free time, she overshares on the internet, creating content about chronic illness, beauty, and disability.

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