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Sudden Amnesia After Vigorous Sex

Sudden Memory Loss

OK, I don’t normally share secrets of my intimate private life with the public. But—you know me—wherever there is a lesson to be gleaned and it does somebody some good, somewhere, then I’m right there.

A few weeks ago I had an alarming episode that doctors call “transient global amnesia” (TGA). It’s sudden but temporary memory loss following some strenuous or stressful event. In my case it came on after passionate sex with my beloved wife.

All of a sudden, I couldn’t remember what we were doing or why. I knew who I was but wasn’t sure about the lady with me! For several hours I was quite confused about recent events and couldn’t get a grasp on things. I remember shopping at the local supermarket but not what we bought.

It may result from the deactivation of the brain's temporal lobes and/or thalamus (the part of the brain that serves as a center for the relay of sensory information). Usually occurring in otherwise healthy persons, TGA triggers memory loss from external stresses such as strenuous exertion, high levels of anxiety, sexual intercourse, immersion in hot or cold water, and other similar conditions.

It was quite scary for me but absolutely frightened Vivien out of her wits. She assumed I had had a stroke or some serious event and from the first imagined that she’d lost me, for good. I kept saying "Goodbye!" and "I love you!", just in case these were the last few moments of my life.

Hours later my memory came back and although I am still a little vacant about those few hours (I can remember maybe 60%), my considerable intellectual powers are not diminished in the least.

In fact the curious thing is there is almost never any residual damage. What’s more it’s rare to experience this TGA more than once; certainly 3 times maximum in a lifetime. Only 3% of people who have a TGA will ever get it again.

There are no ethnic associations or inherited conditions associated with TGA. Men experience the condition more often than women. In addition, the occurrence of this type of amnesia rarely happens before middle age, with about 12 out of 100,000 people ever experiencing the condition before age 50. The most likely ages in which to experience TGA are the 50s and 60s. I’m 65 next birthday (and feel around 30 years old).

So if anything like this has happened to you, be comforted. If it happens to you in the future (the majority of my subscribers are Boomers, or at least in the 50+ band)—don’t panic! You won’t know what hit you; but your spouse, friends or loved ones can be re-assured that it’s not serious.

Only thing is, it could be a stroke or embolus. So being seen in ER or by an emergency physician is still a good idea.

Anyone who quickly goes from normal awareness of unfolding reality to confusion about what just happened requires immediate medical attention. If the person experiencing memory loss is too disoriented to call an ambulance, call one yourself.

Although transient global amnesia isn't harmful, there's no easy way to distinguish the condition from the life-threatening illnesses that can also cause sudden memory loss. In fact, sudden amnesia is much more likely to be caused by a stroke or a seizure than by transient global amnesia. A medical evaluation is the only way to determine the cause of sudden memory loss.

Doctors base a diagnosis of transient global amnesia on the following signs and symptoms:

  1. Sudden onset of memory loss, verified by a witness
  2. Retention of personal identity despite memory loss
  3. Normal cognition (ability to recognize and name familiar objects and follow simple directions, for example)
  4. Absence of signs indicating damage to a particular area of the brain (limb paralysis, involuntary movement or impaired word recognition, for example)
  5. Duration of no more than 24 hours
  6. Gradual return of memory
  7. No evidence of seizures during the period of amnesia
  8. No history of active epilepsy or recent head injury

[list from the Mayo Clinic website]

I hope this re-assures many people that fit and well human beings, with competent minds, can have what appears to be a disaster unfold and yet it is 100% survivable and without residual damage.

Still, it gave me a glimpse of what Alzheimer’s must be like. Don’t want to go there. Take your coQ10 and omega-3s.

Oh, and look out for my new brain-saver “Brain-Zoom”. It’s formulated by me especially for Boomers and those who want to keep a clear mind and go on living to the max right until their last day on Earth!

So it please God.

[read a news story about transient global amnesia - transient global amnesia]

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