Did I have an orgasm-induced stroke?!
November 11, 2009 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Why did my face go temporarily numb after an orgasm? NSFW.

Last weekend my boyfriend performed oral sex on me for somewhere between 10-20 minutes. Shortly after I orgasmed, my chin, lower lip and left cheek got tingly and went numb for a few minutes. I was trying to smile but couldn't. It was weird.

Some background: I'm a 25-year-old female and completely healthy. I take birth control pills and 20mg of Citalopram daily. My boyfriend and I have been dating long-distance for three months, and our twice-a-month visits are generally 3-times-a-day sex romps (this particular incident was Friday morning, so it was the second or third time we had gone at it). For me, orgasms from oral sex are always the most intense, but this has never happened to me after any kind of orgasm. Prior to this incident I hadn't orgasmed from oral sex in a couple of years, and throughout the rest of the weekend there was nothing was out of the ordinary, sexually or otherwise.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)

This has happened to me both after orgasming and when I am crying really, really hard. I asked my doctor and she said I probably wasn't taking in enough oxygen. I took note and have since realized that I took short, shallow breaths when, getting busy. So, I don't think the tingly face syndrome is a direct result of orgasming, but from not getting enough oxygen.
posted by pintapicasso at 2:08 PM on November 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

Did you perhaps kink your neck or have your head in some odd position as the deed was being done?

I think that something directly physical is more likely the cause of this than something neural-systemic unless you have some sort of weird Bell's Palsy related thing.

Of course, I don't know what I am talking about.
posted by bz at 2:08 PM on November 11, 2009

Any time you have numbness where you cannot smile, you should see a physician. Especially when it's only on one side. Being on birth controls puts you at an increased risk for stroke, and your orgasm could have been completely coincidental.

This could have been a random aberration, but I'd mention it to your GYN on your next visit, and if it happens again, go to emergency care. (Signs of Stroke)
posted by headspace at 2:11 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Face numbness can be a byproduct of breathing too hard or too shallow; hyperventillating, in particular, can cause it, which doesn't help when you're in the middle of a panic attack and feel your lips suddenly go cold.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:11 PM on November 11, 2009

I once had some weird tingly feelings after an orgasm once when I was also taking a lot of Sudafed because of a bad cold. I also talked to my doctor and they said that pseudoephidrine does strange things to your circulation and blood pressure, and that combined with the blood rush of an orgasm just caused that numbness as a temporary thing. She said it wasn't anything to worry about.

What headspace says about talking to your GYN is a good point, still, though; I wasn't on the pill myself, and that is a good point about the Pill causing blood clots in weird places.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:16 PM on November 11, 2009

My upper lip used to go completely numb after orgasm, to the point that I sounded like I'd just been to the dentist if I tried to speak. At the time I was 22, and it went away after a month or so. I think it was just me being over excited or breathing very heavily, because it hasn't happened since. Still, might be a good thing to tell your GP/OB next time to see them.
posted by Pecinpah at 2:17 PM on November 11, 2009

BTW I apologize for accidentally besmirching your lovey's ability to give you awesome orgasm. Having it and then facial numbness may be coincidental, is what I meant to say.
posted by headspace at 2:19 PM on November 11, 2009

Last weekend my boyfriend performed oral sex on me for somewhere between 10-20 minutes. Shortly after I orgasmed, my chin, lower lip and left cheek got tingly and went numb for a few minutes. I was trying to smile but couldn't. It was weird.

Nthing oxygen issues. Do you have arousal flush a lot?
posted by Ironmouth at 2:24 PM on November 11, 2009

This post reminded me of this story on CNN about Transient Global Amnesia brought on by rapid blood flow changes during sex.
posted by cashman at 2:37 PM on November 11, 2009

I often get this kind of numbness in my face if I have been hyperventilating or otherwise not breathing properly for many minutes. Doesn't seem like a stretch to say you were breathing heavily in this particular scenario :)

I wouldn't worry about it unless it happens often.
posted by Herschel at 2:48 PM on November 11, 2009

I agree with bz. Non-orgasmic in nature, but if I tilt my head back too fast and too far, a nerve in my neck goes off and stills and numbs my tongue for nearly a minute; it's almost like having a cramp, but...it's not...because I don't really feel very much. This has maybe happened to me 2-4 times in my life, once during limbo! I've discussed this with a few friends and have been told by some of them that they have a certain nerve or spot that can cause similar strangeness. If you tilted your head or neck a certain way (or, hey, scrunched up your face in ecstasy), you might have hit a nerve.

I wouldn't go so far as to say this was a normal incident, but it might be worth pointing out that many unusual things can occur to people after orgasm, including involuntary trembling or even ear ringing. Neither of those things is particularly "normal," either, but they happen just the same sometimes, to some people. I can attest to ear ringing, which is apparently related to higher blood pressure prior to orgasm.

As others said, oxygen loss might be the culprit, too, but I wouldn't really be worried of any stroke issues. You're 25, and while strokes are not impossible for any age group, it's unlikely that what happened to you was a sign of one, particularly since you fully recovered a few minutes later and had no further trouble. I too would ask a doctor about it (mainly because of your being on the pill), but I wouldn't rush the appointment or run to the emergency room, unless it happens again very soon.

Not that it should be any true consolation, but a quick search for face numbness sex shows that you're not alone. You still don't know what that means, of course, but at a self-proclaimed, healthy 25-year-old, I'd venture to guess it just means you had a really wild orgasm. So, woohoo!
posted by metalheart at 3:01 PM on November 11, 2009

My hands went numb one time, for sexy hyperventilation reasons. It took about half an hour to be able to do anything with them again. Such things have happened to me in the past, but only rarely. Calm down the heavy breathing.
posted by Coatlicue at 3:04 PM on November 11, 2009

My hands also can go numb when I'm hyperventilating during sex. I imagine it's probably a similar effect.
posted by you're a kitty! at 4:47 PM on November 11, 2009

This happens to me all the time during particularly hot sex. You're hyperventilating and, yeah, your head/neck could be in a weird position too. Nothing to worry about. Enjoy!

Oh, and tell your boyfriend. No doubt he'll feel like a manly-man for making you think you had a stroke. :-)
posted by actuallyiam at 4:53 PM on November 11, 2009

My hands and face have also gone numb after receiving oral sex for a long time. Pretty sure it's just me forgetting to breathe and/or breathing quickly and shallowly when I do.
posted by limeonaire at 5:56 PM on November 11, 2009

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