Dr. Smartass

The Weird and Wild World of Sex-Induced Amnesia

Those awkward morning-afters aren’t only because of alcohol. Dr. Smartass pulls back the covers on a real medical condition that causes your brain to blank after you boink.

By (@doctorsmartass)

November 9, 2009

Got a question for Dr. Smartass? E-mail doc [at] esarcasm.com.

Dr. SmartassEver woken up to realize there’s a lovely lady in the bed next to you — and you have no idea how she got there? No need to be embarrassed, my virtual disciples; we’ve all been there. And it turns out alcohol may not be the only explanation.

From my inbox:

Dear Dr. Smartass,

Why would I wake up with a girl and not remember doing her at all? I know I was drunk, but shouldn’t I be able to recall at least some of it? Bogus.


Ry-Ry, you dirty devil, you. On the upside, at least the naked creature next to you was in fact a woman, not a wildebeest. Not that your dear Dr. Smartass has ever experienced such an occurrence (I have no idea how Hershel from IT got undressed and into my bed last month, but I swear to God nothing happened).

Now, certainly, alcohol can affect your ability to remember an encounter — and, let’s face it, when said encounter likely lasted only 47 seconds, it isn’t exactly tough to forget.

Sex AmnesiaBut, my dear Ryan, there is a possibility your booze isn’t to blame. First, there’s the obvious explanation of self-denial: If, for example, you woke up with a hairy IT guy sprawled out across your bed, you might suppress any memory of what happened so you could avoid dealing with it. (Just a random example there — nothing I’ve ever encountered personally.) And then there’s the really odd explanation.

It’s something called transient global amnesia, casually referred to as sex-induced amnesia. People actually black out following an orgasm and forget everything that happened leading up to it. The amnesia can be triggered by things other than below-the-belt explosions, but the ol’ moan-and-groan is the most common culprit.

“One of the things people have done to look at transient global amnesia is to look at frequency of various precipitants, and sex always comes out as one of the most common,” explains Dr. Louis Caplan, a Harvard neurology professor and sex blackout expert (a title your own Dr. S is currently working to obtain).

Now, Ry-Bear, you didn’t tell me your age. If you’re under 50, the odds of your case being sex-induced amnesia are low. Even so, it might be a better excuse to give to that nude beauty next to you — after all, no one wants to hear “I only boinked you because of the booze.”


When you wake in the morning and feel a deep fright,
Just thinking about what you two did last night.
If you really don’t know how her sheets got so wet,
Then tell her, “So sorry, sometimes I forget.”

Until next time,

Dr. Smartass

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