In 2013, researchers identified a woman who, 5 or 6 times a day, would experience spontaneous orgasms originating in her left foot. They called her condition, straightforwardly enough, Foot Orgasm Syndrome (FOS). Now, they’re searching for others like her.

At his blog Sex and Psychology, social psychologist Justin Lehmiller writes on FOS and “Mrs. A,” who first sought treatment for her unwanted, foot-borne orgasms “because she found them to be embarrassing and experienced anxiety over when the next one might happen.” Makes sense. As Lehmiller goes on to explain (emphasis added to highlight an interesting neurophysiological connection I never knew about):

In studying her case, doctors learned that Mrs. A suffered a serious infection a few years back and was hospitalized for several weeks. During her recovery, “she complained of strange sensations (tingling, burning feelings) in her left foot.” However, it wasn’t until after doctors tried to treat these unusual sensations with various drugs (including paroxetine or Paxil, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) that she began experiencing foot orgasms.

What the doctors think happened is that her health problems caused degeneration in the nerves of her left foot, and that subsequent nerve regeneration combined with the effects of some of the drugs she was taking may have created some kind of mix-up in nerve signaling. It is also worth noting that the nerves for the foot enter the spinal cord very close to where the genital nerves enter (which may partially account for why we see a connection between orgasms and feet more generally). The doctors suspect that the close proximity of these nerves facilitated a mix-up and led information from the left foot to be “misinterpreted by the brain as being solely information originating from the vagina.”

Based on that hypothesis, Mrs. A’s doctors, led by Dutch neuropsychiatrist Marcel D. Waldingerreport “it was decided to perform an anesthesia of her left S1 dorsal root ganglion (the location at the back where the nerve of the foot enters the spinal cord). After this procedure, the spontaneous foot orgasms had fully disappeared. The phenomenon was called Foot Orgasm Syndrome (FOS).” Their results of their case study were published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Waldinger has since created a website where you can report your own experiences, “If you also experience a sensation of your feet co-occurring with sexual arousal or lubrication or orgasm or ejaculation or erection, or a combination of them.”

[Sex and Psychology via Boing Boing]


Contact the author at rtgonzalez@io9.com. Photo credit Pedro Ribeiro Simões | CC BY 2.0.