Is Sneezing Really Like Having A Mini Orgasm?

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
Among all of the sex myths that exist, one of the most ridiculous is the idea that every time someone sneezes, they're actually having a mini orgasm. After all, if sneezing really was like having an orgasm, allergies wouldn't be so annoying.
But most myths start with at least a little bit of truth and it's not that hard to understand where the sneeze = orgasm idea came from. "People are tempted to compare sneezing and orgasm, because both are a brief release," says Claudia Six, PhD, a clinical sexologist and relationship coach.
An orgasm is a release of pent up tension in your muscles (and of feel-good chemicals in your brain), and a sneeze is also a release of tension. When something irritating finds its way into your nose, nerve endings send a message to your brain. The message then tells your abdominal and chest muscles to contract so that your lungs can send a powerful burst of air through both your nose and mouth, therefore forcing the irritating particles out. When it's over, your chest and abdominal muscles relax, which causes a feeling of release that's (kind of) similar to the release you get from an orgasm.
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But that's where the similarity between sneezes and orgasms end, Dr. Six says. And there's one huge difference that makes orgasms way better than sneezes: The release of happy chemicals.
Sneezing and orgasms both produce endorphins, which make your body feel good, but the amount of endorphins released by a sneeze is significantly less than the amount released by an orgasm, sexologist Vanessa Thompson told Business Insider. That's perhaps where the other portion of the sneezing/orgasm myth comes in. People say that if you sneeze a certain number of times in a row, it'll feel like an orgasm. The number switches depending on what version of the myths you've heard. Sometimes it's seven, or eight, or ten, but the number doesn't really matter, because it's not true. "There is no cumulative effect with sneezing, so no amount of sneezing is going to feel like an orgasm," Thompson says.
Still, there is a small connection between sneezing and sexual arousal. In 2008, ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon Mahmood Bhutta published a case study in which he examined people who had uncontrollable sneezing fits whenever they were aroused. It's a rare condition, but Bhutta theorized that some people have crossed wires in their autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary things like breathing and lubrication, or erections when we're sexually excited. In some people, the signals that tell your body that you're aroused and the signals that tell your body to sneeze somehow get mixed up, but Bhutta still isn't sure why.
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So, yes, there is a little bit of truth in the myth that sneezing and orgasms have a connection. But, it's certainly not the case that a sneeze is just a mini orgasm. Think about it this way, Thompson says: If sneezing could really feel like having an orgasm, grocery stores probably couldn't keep pepper on the shelves.
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