Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.See all posts »
Ciguatera and Sex
It was reported this spring that ciguatera fish poisoning has been linked to pain during sexual intercourse. Despite the sensational coverage that this announcement received by the press, the phenomenon has been known for quite some time. It is indeed a fact that a person affected by ciguatera fish poisoning may suffer symptoms of pain during sex. These symptoms include painful ejaculation in men, and a burning sensation during and after (for up to 3 hours) intercourse. What was interesting about this most recent report, which was generated by observations made in North Carolina, was quantification of the duration of the uncomfortable symptoms. One male reported that his symptoms lasted a week, and two of the women said that they were affected for a month. The fish implicated in this particular cluster of cases was amberjack.
Treatment for ciguatera fish poisoning is for the most part supportive, although certain drugs are beginning to prove useful for aspects of the syndrome. An example is intravenous mannitol for abnormal nervous system behavior or abnormal heart rhythms. These therapies must be undertaken by a physician. Prochlorperazine may be useful for vomiting; hydroxyzine or cool showers may be useful for itching. There are chemical tests (such as Cigua-Check® Fish Poison Test Kit) to determine the presence of ciguatoxins in fish, but there is not yet a specific antidote.
Preview the Annual Meeting of the Wilderness Medical Society, which will be held in Snowmass, Colorado July 24-29, 2009.
Tags: ciguatera, ciguatera fish poisoning, painful sex, wilderness medicine, outdoor medicine, healthline
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