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Achoo, Baby: The People Who Sneeze or Sniffle When They’re Aroused

For most people, being turned on is demonstrated via hardness or wetness. But for those with honeymoon rhinitis or sexually induced sneezing, it’s a feeling best conveyed with snot

The human body has an infinite variety of weird, sometimes unexplainable quirks. While there are some that many people share — like contagious yawning or sneezing when you look at the sun — others materialize as rare, hard-to-understand conditions. Two of these are the closely related phenomena of “honeymoon rhinitis” and “sexually induced sneezing.” Those who suffer with the former experience a sudden blocked nose during sexual intercourse or arousal, while those with the latter condition sneeze whenever they engage in or even think about sex.

According to Wikipedia, honeymoon rhinitis — which is genetically determined and can affect any gender — is caused by erectile tissue in the nose, which “may become engorged during sexual arousal, as a side effect of the signals from the automatic nervous system that trigger” genital arousal.

As both conditions could seem made up — or be mistaken as symptoms of something else like hay fever or the common cold — many people who have honeymoon rhinitis or sexually induced sneezing don’t even know it’s a thing. Furthermore, per a 2021 report, although people may suffer with either condition for their entire lives, “patient reticence about mentioning bizarre and embarrassing symptoms to their clinician results in under-reporting.”

Luckily, forums like Reddit exist, where those seeking answers to their unusual sex problems can find other, just-as-bewildered, sufferers and put a name to their arousal-induced stuffy nose. For those who have no sexual-nasal connections — and those who do, but have no idea WTF is going on — a few pseudonymous redditors have shared what life with honeymoon rhinitis or sexually-induced sneezing is actually like. So, grab your allergy tablets, and read on.

‘Whenever I Randomly Sneeze, My Wife Jokingly Accuses Me of Rubbing One Out’

Toby, 49, Chicago: Immediately after ejaculation, I sneeze — at least twice, but sometimes up to four or five times. Occasionally, though rarely, I’ll get a runny nose. It’s all over within a minute or two, but has been happening for as long as I can remember. I forget about it until it happens, but when it does happen, I feel oddly self-conscious. Even though my wife thinks it’s cute, I feel kind of weird about it. It’s not uncomfortable, and really has no impact on arousal, but I’d choose not to sneeze if possible.

I always thought it was a quirk I had that was unique to me, but a few years ago, I started to look it up when it came to mind during non-sexual situations. That’s when I discovered that I wasn’t alone — but there wasn’t a lot of info online about the condition. It wasn’t until I stumbled across a Reddit post that I learned it had a name.

Sometimes if I don’t sneeze — which is super rare — I’ll pretend as if I found a cure, so I can jokingly suggest we have sex again to test out my hypothesis “for science.” And whenever I randomly sneeze, my wife jokingly accuses me of rubbing one out (it does happen when I masturbate).

I’ve never found any way to consistently prevent sneezing, so at this point I just roll with it and make the best of the situation. It seems like my case is minor, and my wife and I usually have a giggle about it and then just go to sleep.

‘It’s the Worst When I’m on Top in the Cowboy Position, Since Gravity Makes the Dripping More of an Issue’

Vanessa, 27, Washington, D.C.: My main symptom is a stuffy, runny nose. It’s not so much sneezing as it is a steady, continuous drip that I can’t really make go away, and it starts up pretty much as soon as I’m making out and getting in the mood.

It took me a while to figure out it happened to me, because I had several sexual partners in a row that I wasn’t really into. When I’m not into it, there’s obviously a variety of physical arousal symptoms that don’t take place — including, for me, not having a drippy nose. So I didn’t realize until my current partner, who I enjoy sex with, that it was directly correlated to my arousal. In fact, for a while, I was convinced that I was always just coming down with a cold because I couldn’t find another explanation for why I suddenly had a runny nose while fucking. I thought maybe I wasn’t aware of my cold symptoms until I was up close and personal with someone.

It makes me incredibly self-conscious. It’s much worse when I’m on top in the cowboy position, since gravity makes the dripping more of an issue, and my face is in my partner’s face. It’s less of an issue when I’m giving head, since sloppy liquid is sort of expected, when I’m on my back, since gravity is on my side in that position, or when we’re in doggy style, since my face is a little more hidden. Therefore, it affects what positions I want to be in — although I conceptually enjoy cowgirl, it’s hard to relax and get into it when you’re trying to hide a stuffy, dripping nose. Doggy, missionary and reverse cowgirl work best for me.

Still, so far, my partners have either not noticed or not commented. I might bring it up soon to see what my current partner says, but I’m a little shy about pointing out something embarrassing. Being naked and vulnerable is already often stressful — especially if you struggle with confidence — and honeymoon rhinitis doesn’t help. 

I guess the only advice I can share — to myself and to others — is to remember that if you’re already getting down and dirty, one extra bodily liquid shouldn’t be a major deal.

‘I Sneeze Loudly Twice. Not Once, Nor Three Times — Exactly Two Sneezes’

Miguel, 30, Spain: I have the less severe sexually induced sneezing, rather than full-blown honeymoon rhinitis. It happens both when I think about sex, and when I’m relaxed and my mind is devout of thought — something that usually happens when I’m about to go to sleep. It doesn’t happen if I’m walking on the street and see a hot lady, or if my friends induce me to think about sex, or now, since I’m aware that I’m thinking about it. I need to be distracted to some degree to avoid it happening.

As for what happens, I sneeze loudly twice. Not once, nor three times — exactly two sneezes. It’s always a clean sneeze, with no mucus involved. I’d say I’m on the lower scale of the condition, so I’ve never felt like I have a problem. But I’ve always thought that I’m weird, or that I can’t “control” myself, since I can’t avoid sneezing the moment the conditions are met.

I’ve never thought about telling anyone this — my partners over the years have just thought that I caught colds very often. After learning that there are more people out there who share this quirk, I explained it to my current girlfriend, who thought it was a mix of cute and arousing, since it’s somewhat an equivalent of morning wood.

I don’t think there are many misconceptions to have, as it’s something so obscure. But having it really makes you you realize that humans are weird and, when it comes to sex, all kinds of strange things can happen.