During sexual activity a woman may develop an air embolism that can be fatal.


Most occurrences have been reported with orogenital sex during pregnancy or shortly after delivery. Other occurrences include:

(1) oro-vaginal insufflation of crack cocaine

(2) autoerotic activity (with a foreign object acting as a piston)

(3) foreplay (with the partner's finger acting as a piston)

(4) vaginal intercourse (with the penis acting as a piston)

(5) attempted abortion by syringing



(1) sudden event (cardiac arrest or stroke)

(2) during sexual activity

(3) exclusion of alternative explanations


Early diagnosis can be lifesaving. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be beneficial if available.


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