Why does my stuffy nose clear up when I'm sexually aroused?

So I’ve got a cold. I haven’t taken any medication, and my nose is stuffed up and I can’t breathe a whiff of air though it. Blowing it doesn’t help. However…when I get sexually aroused, the stuffiness almost immediately disappears, and stays unclogged for the, er, duration of the subsequent act. Then, within about five to ten minutes the stuffy nose seems to come back with a vengeance, just as blocked up as before.

What’s going on, and is this ability to unstuff noses without drugs marketable?


pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry, yes.

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Sideffects: erection of genital tissue, may cause pregnancies in women, don’t drive a vehicle while under the influence of Prescription Playboy ™.

Not a physician, but the physical, umm, issue, would seem to be a vascular one, with the help of a hormonal surge. In the,umm, tremendous event of erection, your body directs it’s inflammatory mechanisms to support the yee-ha of incoming stimulus. Only so much work a body can do in a short space of time.

Don’t tell the Viagra Spam Nation; they don’t need another selling point…

I have chronic allergic rhinitus. I’ve noticed similar things. Not so much with sexual arousal in particular but with any important and vigorous activity. When my nasal passages really want to, they are actually quite able to refrain from annoying the hell out of me by sneezing and itching and running. Which just annoys me: if this is so, then for &%^&'s sake, nasal passages, why itch, sneeze etc at all, huh? Hmmm?

There is a known connection between the sinuses and sexual arousal, though it’s more likely to get stuffed up.

Also see http://www.formyhealth.com/vasomotor_rhinitis.htm

I’ll back this up. Many’s the meetings/interviews/whatever important business function where I’ve been worried about sneezing and sniffling through it. Then I turn ‘on’ for the event and later I realized it didn’t trouble me at all.

In this case I believe we may be observing a natural adrenergic effect. While you’re on “fight or flight” mode, one of the many effects is constriction of peripheral blood vessels and reduction of secretions. (It’s also why Sudafed-type decongestants tend to make people jittery, and the now-retired PPA-type decongestants were actually used as OTC “speed” and diet pills: the effects mimic a stimulant.)

In the specific case of our respiratory passages, evolution seems to have favored being able to temporarily stop filtering or flushing out allergens and viruses (the reason for the sneezing, running, tearing, and swelling) on behalf of freer airflow when a situation of actual or impending crisis or vigorous exertion demands more oxygen to the bloodstream. Ideally when you blood gets pumping somewhere where it can do more important work, it should not pool in your nostrils – but, as RealityChuck points out, it sometimes works the exact opposite way. Intelligent design, schmelligent design, really, these bodies are one big kludge…

Well, finally, I can actually look forward to catching my next cold.

An astonishingly informative post, JR. Thank you.

My wife has a very similar response. The Big O brings on a bad case of runny nose. I always hypothesized that just as the mucous membranes in other parts of the body undergo vascular congestion during sexual arousal and then get back to normal after orgasm, the mucous membranes in her sinuses and nose are doing the same thing.

I believe that I have read that the nasal passages are made of tissues that are similar to erectile tissue, and when the proper messages are sent to the body’s erectile tissue, it engorges - wherever it is. My wife and I both know that sexual arousal can often lead to a temporarily stuffy nose. xo C.