The sexy secret that could lie in a sneeze

Pa,John von Radowitz
Saturday 20 December 2008 01:00
Comments

The next time someone in the room sneezes, you might want to wonder what exactly is on their mind after researchers found evidence that in certain people sneezing can be triggered by sexual fantasy.

Dr Mahmood Bhutta, an ear, nose and throat specialist at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, launched the study after seeing a patient who suffered "uncontrollable" sneezing fits every time he had a sexual thought.

"We thought this unusual and performed a literature search of the topic," he wrote in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Together with colleague Dr Harold Maxwell, Dr Bhutta found that typing the words "sex", "sneeze" or "sneezing" into Google produced a surprising number of hits.

"Although internet reports do not give us an accurate incidence, our findings do suggest that it is much more common than recognised," wrote Dr Bhutta and Dr Maxwell.

Sneezing usually occurs in response to nasal irritation, triggering a reflex that expels air at speeds of over 90 miles an hour. Eyebrow plucking can also provoke sneezing by stimulating the trigeminal nerve, which produces sensations in the face.

But other more puzzling sneezing triggers are also known, said the researchers. One was the "photic sneeze reflex" – an apparently inherited sneezing reaction to sunlight, which affects almost a quarter of the population. More rare were cases of people from the same family sneezing after meals.

Dr Bhutta said he believed sneezing when thinking about sex probably ran in families too. He added: "I think this reflex demonstrates evolutionary relics in the wiring of a part of the nervous system, the autonomic nervous system... Sometimes the signals in this system get crossed, and I think this may be why some people sneeze when they think about sex."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in