Dr. Dean

Why Does My Wife Pass Out During Sex?

Posting Date: 02/17/2000

E-mail question: My wife and I are newlyweds. When we have sex, my wife often passes out for 5 to 20 seconds. Sometimes she's out for as long as 45 seconds. This occurs after she has several orgasms that are very close together.

My wife says she enjoys herself, but I'm worried. Is this bad for her? By the way, there is no auto-asphyxiation strangulation involved.

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Dr. Dean: I was going to ask you if any choking is going on. Auto-asphyxiation means she is choking herself rather than your doing it. Do not play around with that in either form, please. Asphyxiation during sex causes hundreds of accidental deaths each year. In the chapter on sex in my book "Eat, Drink, and Be Merry," I stress the importance of communication and sex education in preventing these tragedies.

Her passing out concerns me. One possible cause that would be easy to remedy is that she may be holding her breath. Going through physical gymnastics, whether sexual or weight lifting or whatever, while holding one's breath strains the blood vessels and raises the blood pressure. You might talk to her about trying some deep breathing exercises.

Another possibility is that a certain combination of activity and respiration is increasing her abdominal pressure and compressing the venous return to her heart, depriving the heart of enough blood for a few beats.

She should probably talk to a doctor about the phenomenon, to make sure that it isn't anything serious.