Monday, 22 Dec, 2008 Science

Sneezing May Be Triggered by Sexual Fantasy


If you hear someone sneeze you may think about what is on the mind of that someone, since recently researchers unveiled that sneezing in some people can be produced by sexual fantasy. Such a surprising find was made by Dr Mahmood Bhutta, an ear, nose and throat specialist at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

The researcher carried out his study after observing a patient who had "uncontrollable" sneezing fits each time he had a sexual thought.

The results of the study were published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. In the article Dr Mahmood Bhutta wrote: "We thought this unusual and performed a literature search of the topic."

Both Dr Mahmood Bhutta and his colleague Dr Harold Maxwell, noticed that Google produced a huge number of results after they typed the keywords "sex", "sneeze" or "sneezing," reported The Independent.

"Although internet reports do not give us an accurate incidence, our findings do suggest that it is much more common than recognized," scientists wrote.

Experts say that sneezing is a result of nasal irritation, which triggers a reflex that pushes out air at speeds of more than 90 miles an hour. Sneezing can also be triggered by eyebrow plucking through the stimulation of the trigeminal nerve.

Scientists said that there are also other puzzling sneezing triggers such as the "photic sneeze reflex," which is an inherited sneezing response to sunlight. Such reaction on sunlight affects about 1/4th of the population. There's also a rare condition when members of the same family sneeze after meals.

According to Dr Bhutta, there is a probability that people from the same family may sneeze if they think about sex. He added that this reflex shows evolutionary remnants in the wiring of a part of the human nervous system.

"Sometimes the signals in this system get crossed, and I think this may be why some people sneeze when they think about sex," said the researcher.

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