While much of the world is dusting off their barbeque and digging out their shorts, a fair number of us are bracing for the oncoming onslaught of pollen and ridiculously overpriced antihistamines. But fear not, there's a study that suggests there might be a low-cost, easy, and even enjoyable way to ease your hayfever symptoms."
Scientists from Tabriz Medical University in Iran suggest that sex and masturbation could be used to help hayfever sufferers with stuffy noses and congestion. Writing in the obscure journal Medical Hypothesis, they argue that male ejaculation causes nasal blood vessels to constrict, loosening up space in the nose and allowing easier breathing.
“Ejaculation can be used as a potential treatment of nasal congestion because its emission phase provides a sympathetic stimulation and subsequent vasoconstriction and nasal decongestion,” Dr Sina Zarrintan, the study author, writes in a 2008 study.
"According to the current idea, sexual intercourse or masturbation is proposed in the cases of nasal congestion in mature men," the study concludes. “It can be done time-to-time to alleviate the congestion and the patient can adjust the number of intercourses or masturbations depending on the severity of the symptoms.
Bear in mind, the publication isn't your typical peer-reviewed scientific journal. According to its own description: “Medical Hypotheses will publish papers which describe theories, ideas which have a great deal of observational support and some hypotheses where experimental support is yet fragmentary.”
In other words, they haven't tested out the ideas with experiments, evidence, or any other form of proof.
That said, the idea isn’t completely crackpot crazy. It’s possible that doing a few push-ups may help to unblock a congested nose a bit. This is because a stuffy nose is often caused by the inflamed nasal tissue, not just mucus. An intense burst of exercise will pump blood into your muscles, causing blood vessels in your nasal mucosa to constrict.
"Membranes in the nose have an abundant supply of arteries, veins, and capillaries, which have the ability to expand and constrict," according to the California Sinus Centers. "Normally these blood vessels are in a half-constricted or half-open state. But when a person exercises vigorously, hormone (adrenaline) levels increase. Adrenaline causes constriction of the nasal membranes so that the air passages open up and the person breathes freely."
Presumably, a quick flutter of sexual exertion has a similar effect to a few press-ups. It isn't quite clear where the ejaculation part comes into it, but there you go.
So, check it out for yourself. Next time the sun is pouring down and you feel your nose start to clog, try out Dr Zarrintan's hot tip (or just do 10 push-ups, if it's more convenient).