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Sex

Have you ever cum so hard you lost your hearing?

By Maya Khamala

Have you ever come so hard you went a little deaf? Possibly your ears rang too. Temporarily, I mean? Maybe you lay there, panting, hands clutching head, unable to hear your own “oh my gods” or your lover’s postcoital sweet nothings.

For some people, the post-orgasmic experience includes a temporary loss of hearing and/or tinnitus (a ringing in the ears). And, contrary to popular belief—judging from reams of anecdotal evidence, anyway—this is a fairly common phenomenon (among men and women both, but particularly among women). That said, we may never know just how common, unless a population study is undertaken, because, thus far, no one’s done that. While here are thousands of scientific papers about hearing loss and tinnitus, and hundreds of papers on the female orgasm, there is virtually nothing out there drawing connections between the two. 

It’s worth mentioning that hearing isn’t the only sense that people have been known to lose after orgasm. According to one study, about 1.2% of sexually active people experience a condition known as orgasm synesthesia, which involves seeing colors, tasting flavors, and experiencing scents at orgasm. Much like sex-related hearing loss, there’s been close to zero research on the causes, but sex researcher Nicole Prause ventures a guess, describing how “shifts in brain state appear to occur to allow the orgasm experience to happen before the orgasm actually occurs.” In this state, the brain may lose control over sensory areas, preventing us from filtering out visual signals and other stimuli.

Hmmm, I suppose I could buy that. But let’s delve a little deeper into the connection between sex and hearing loss, shall we?

What science says about sex-induced deafness

Lack of research aside, ear, nose, and throat surgeon Dr. Eric Levi has a couple of theories about what’s making some people partially deaf post-climax. The first, he says, could be a factor of “the sudden reduction in heart rate” which follows orgasm, contributing to “sudden pressure changes in the middle ear and reduction of blood flow to the inner ear.” His second hypothesis involves the specific parts of the brain directly affected when approaching climax.

“…the change in the activity of the temporal lobe after orgasm results in a change in auditory perception,” he posits, discussing how the temporal lobe, which is responsible for hearing and other sensory association, gets ‘switched off’ at this stage of arousal. “This may result in some people having a change in their threshold for experiencing tinnitus,” he explains, adding, “the release of chemical endorphins may also change the activities of the neurotransmitters in the brain, causing a change in sensory perception.”

When asked if he could prove his hypotheses, Levi has responded, “To prove these two hypotheses, I will need to do immediate hearing tests with and without comparable stimulus after orgasm. I will also need to do angiographic vascular studies of vessels of the middle ear and inner ear, barometric pressure studies of the middle ear, MRI and functional PET scan studies of the brain, as well as serum studies of hormone levels in the blood before, during, and right after orgasm. You can imagine how challenging that would be. Suffice to say, I am happy to deduce the association of hearing loss and tinnitus with orgasm based on first principles of physiology.”

Writer and satirist Robert Cormack puts a different spin on it, (which, I must admit, I find amusing, and somewhat convincing):

“Since sex doesn’t typically require hearing (I’m talking physiologically), the blood vessels constrict, allowing blood to rush to regions like your vagina or muscles. The better the orgasm, the more blood you need in these areas. That’s a long way from your ears, obviously, and what blood stays behind, tends to be concentrated in your prefrontal cortex. This is the thinking centre, which is already trying to decide what you’re doing after sex (food, walking the dog, telling your kids you don’t scream for no reason at all).”

What to do if it happens to you

Most people who experience temporary deafness after sex are dealing with 5-10 minutes’ worth of silence and/or ringing. While some enjoy the experience, recognizing it as a temporary indicator of great sex (I’m not actually saying quality of sex has anything to do with it, though), others find it concerning—disturbing, even. While most seem to agree that the temporary hearing loss and tinnitus associated with sex is nothing to worry about, always listen to your gut: if the loss of hearing is prolonged, painful, or in any way setting off alarms, there is no reason you shouldn’t consult a doctor to make sure there’s nothing else going on with your inner ear.

Personally, I’m a strong believer in the link between emotional intuition and health, so never ignore that inner voice.

And for all of those not concerned about hearing loss after sex: I sincerely hope it is, in fact an accurate measure of the mind-blowing greatness of your session. Get it.

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