Death during consensual sex

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Death can occur during consensual sex for a number of reasons, generally because of the physical strain of the activity, or because of unusual extenuating circumstances. There are various euphemisms for death during sex, including "dying in the saddle" or the French "la mort d'amour".[1] Sex is associated with a variety of benefits and also risks. Deaths during consensual sex only account for approximately 0.6% of all sudden deaths. Numerous notable cases of individuals dying during or from sex have been recorded and reported including a President, a Prime Minister, and a Pope.

Health and physiology[edit]

Sexual intimacy, as well as orgasms, increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, also known as "the love hormone", which helps people bond and build trust.[2][3][4] Sexual activity is also known as one of many mood repair strategies, which means it can be used to help dissipate feelings of sadness or depression.[5] A study of 3,500 people found that "sex helps you look between four and seven years younger".[6]

A 2011 meta-analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that each additional hour of sexual activity per week resulted in an increased risk of 2-3 myocardial infarctions and one sudden cardiac death per 10,000 person-years.[7] Sexual intercourse can also trigger a subarachnoid hemorrhage via the Valsalva maneuver.[8][9] A 2011 meta-analysis published in Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men who were unfaithful were significantly more likely than those who were faithful to experience severe or fatal cardiac events during sex.[10] Basilar artery dissection has also been reported in connection with sexual activity, though most coital cephalalgia is benign in nature.[11]

Deaths during consensual sex only account for approximately 0.6% of all sudden deaths.[9][12] Viagra, although generally considered to be a safe drug, has been linked to sudden cardiovascular death during sexual activity among elderly or otherwise infirm men.[12] The majority of deaths due to cardiovascular causes during sex do occur in males.[13] A number of deaths during consensual sex have been linked to the use of other prescription or recreational drugs, such as cocaine.[14]

The heart condition endothelial dysfunction is a contributing cause to both atherosclerosis and erectile dysfunction.[15] Because of the link between these conditions, rates of coronary heart disease are higher among patients with erectile dysfunction.[15] One treatment for erectile dysfunction is cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, which enable patients to resume having sex despite having a cardiac condition, by lowering blood pressure.[15] These drugs, including sildenafil, inhibit the action of the phosphodiesterase, allowing for a higher concentration of cyclic GMP in the penis when it is physically stimulated. Cyclic GMP is a second messenger in the nitric oxide pathway, responsible for erections via the vasodilating function of nitric oxide.[16] Sudden cardiac death can be caused by myocardial ischemia, and the physical activity of sexual intercourse in patients with coronary artery disease can result in myocardial ischemia.[15] The phosphodiesterase can act as a potentiator for other drugs which lower blood pressure and which could be used to treat heart conditions, and so may be contraindicated to prevent negative health consequences.[17]

Notable or unusual deaths reportedly from consensual sex[edit]

This list only contains deaths, whether intentional murder or accidental death, which occurred during or directly due to consensual sex—not non-consensual sexual acts, such as rape.
Pope John XII (d.964), who may have died during consensual sex with a mistress

See also[edit]


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  11. ^ Delasobera, B. Elizabeth; Osborn, Scott R.; Davis, Jonathan E. (July 2012). "Thunderclap Headache with Orgasm: A Case of Basilar Artery Dissection Associated with Sexual Intercourse". The Journal of Emergency Medicine 43 (1): e43–e47. doi:10.1016/j.jemermed.2009.08.012. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
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