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You might think that an incredible romp between the sheets would be an unforgettable experience. But research shows that sometimes it’s exactly the opposite. Mind-blowing sex, it turns out, can literally blow your mind -- specifically, your memory.
Though it sounds like something you’d find on soap operas or Grey’s Anatomy, research in The Journal of Emergency Medicine shows that award-worthy rolls in the hay have been known to trigger temporary amnesia.
Take the case of a 54-year-old woman who showed up at the emergency room with her husband, unable to remember the past 24 hours. She was also having trouble forming new memories. What she did know: Her memory had gone blank shortly after having sex with her husband. Cases of transient global amnesia are rare, striking about 5 people per 100,000 each year. But in people over 50, whom it most often strikes, that number is 23 cases per 100,000 people. To put that number in perspective, that’s nearly 16,000 cases in the U.S. annually.
Sex isn’t the only extracurricular activity that can cause sudden, temporary amnesia. Other physically strenuous activities can trigger the condition, too. Researchers aren’t completely sure why it happens, but believe it has something to do with faulty valves in the neck’s jugular vein. When pressure in the abdomen builds, as from lifting weights, taking a poop, or any other bearing-down activity, including sex, it may push blood back up into the neck. If the valves don’t shut properly in the neck veins, it can allow blood back into the brain, and possibly trigger transient amnesia.
Researchers have also found that in women, emotionally charged episodes, such as anxiety, may also trigger the condition.
The condition most often affects people in their 50s and 60s, and most people who experience it will only have it once in their life. People with transient global amnesia usually experience the anterograde kind, meaning they have trouble forming new memories. Others, like the 54-year-old woman, may also have retrograde amnesia, which means they can’t remember things from their past.
The good news is the memory problem usually clears up within a matter of hours. MRIs show no damage to the brain and its sufferers appear to have no lingering side effects.
Still, for people who experience it, transient global amnesia can be a terrifying ordeal. Sudden memory loss can also be a sign of a stroke. So if your brain should go all hazy after a romp in the hay, don’t assume it’s the result of your husband’s or boyfriend’s masterful techniques. You can thank him later for the mind-blowing orgasm, once you remember who he is again.