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Pon farr

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Vorik-blood-fever

Ensign Vorik during pon farr.

The pon farr is a Vulcan time of mating and the rituals following it are shrouded under a veil of mystery and secrecy. It is considered to be a very private matter within Vulcan society, so much that only a handful of Starfleet doctors have ever handled it. Amongst themselves, Vulcans find it inappropriate to involve themselves with another's pon farr. (TOS: "Amok Time"; VOY: "Blood Fever")

Biology of pon farr

During pon farr, adult Vulcans undergo a neurochemical imbalance, that takes on a form of madness (culminating in the plak tow). A Vulcan could die within eight days if their pon farr isn't satiated. (TOS: "Amok Time"; VOY: "Blood Fever") Vulcan males (and females, according to T'Pol) experience pon farr every seven years of their adult life. (TOS: "The Cloud Minders"; Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; ENT: "Fallen Hero")

The imbalance during pon farr can be transferred to others via a telepathic mating bond. It can also be transferred to other species during the same telepathic bond. (VOY: "Blood Fever") Certain microbes have also been known to trigger pon farr prematurely. (ENT: "Bounty")

Also during this period, the cortical levels rise and fall, as the brain's regulatory system appears to shut down when serotonin levels become unbalanced. (VOY: "Blood Fever")

Vulcan females also endure pon farr. Normally, their hormones and endorphins rise to dangerous levels. Like males, females must mate or otherwise receive treatment to survive. (ENT: "Bounty")

Rituals surrounding pon farr

During the ancient, pre-Surak times, Vulcans typically killed to win their mates. After the Time of Awakening, the koon-ut-kal-if-fee was adopted, and many Vulcans became telepathically bonded at youth. (TOS: "Amok Time") In the early stages of mating, Vulcans generally touched fingers before touching their faces together. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock) There were three options open to Vulcans that usually ended a pon farr: (VOY: "Blood Fever")

  1. Taking a mate
  2. Participating in a kal-if-fee
  3. Intensive meditation

Notable pon farrs

T'Pol

In 2153, Subcommander T'Pol of Enterprise underwent pon farr after exposure to an unusual microbe. She was confined to Decon and treated by Doctor Phlox. Her premature pon farr ended when the microbes were eliminated. (ENT: "Bounty")

Lieutenant Commander T'Pol of the ISS Enterprise underwent pon farr at some point before 2155. She was assisted through this period by Commander Charles Tucker several times. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")

It seems likely that both the mirror and regular T'Pol have the same pon farr cycle. Assuming females go through a seven-year cycle, T'Pol's pon farr would likely have occurred between 2150 and 2151.

Spock

On stardate 3372.7, Spock had his first pon farr during the USS Enterprise's five-year mission. At the time, Captain James T. Kirk was under direct orders from Starfleet to proceed directly to Altair VI for an inauguration ceremony, with no time to stop off at Vulcan, but after coaxing Spock into telling him what was happening to him, Kirk took Spock to Vulcan anyway, knowingly risking his career. Spock invited Kirk and Doctor Leonard McCoy to attend his koon-ut-kal-if-fee ceremony.

At the ceremony, hosted by Vulcan Ambassador T'Pau, Spock's betrothed, T'Pring, claimed kal-if-fee and chose Kirk as her champion, in a move calculated to ensure that she would have her desired mate, Stonn, regardless of the outcome of the fight. During the fight, McCoy dosed Kirk with a neural paralyzer, and Spock seemingly killed Kirk, breaking his plak tow. When he returned to the Enterprise, intending to immediately surrender himself to the authorities, Spock was delighted to find that Kirk was alive and well after all. (TOS: "Amok Time")

On stardate 8210.3, the regenerated but mindless body of Captain Spock experienced the pon farr on the planet Genesis. Lieutenant Saavik was present and assisted Spock through this time. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

There is a discrepancy between Spock's first pon farr and the nominal definition. Spock was in his thirties (at least) when he underwent pon farr in "Amok Time". He speculated that his "Human blood" might spare him having to undergo it at all. However, on the Genesis planet, young Spock underwent pon farr while apparently in his teens (which would be correct according to the definition, just after the onset of puberty).
The unstable nature of the ongoing Genesis effect on the planet might explain the discrepancy, or the cycle might start seven years after the onset of puberty, which would push his age into the late teens or early twenties.

Tuvok

Tuvok went through pon farr in 2304. He took his mate T'Pel at this time. (VOY: "Ex Post Facto", "Flashback")

Tuvok and T'Pel conceived Asil following his eleventh pon farr. (VOY: "Alice")

Assuming the standard seven-year cycle, Tuvok's first pon farr must have been decades prior to his marriage in 2304. It likely occurred in 2275, 2282, or 2289.

In 2370, Tuvok underwent pon farr. He informed Kathryn Janeway that he was suffering from Tarkalean flu.

On stardate 54238.3, Tuvok began the early stages of another pon farr. Since he was stranded aboard the USS Voyager in the Delta Quadrant, return to Vulcan was impossible. He intended to control his pon farr with a combination of disciplined meditation and specially prepared medication. His neurotransmitters did not absorb the medication, and The Doctor was not present to prescribe an alternative. Tom Paris designed a hologram of T'Pel to handle the situation. Tuvok once again claimed to be suffering from the Tarkalean flu. (VOY: "Body and Soul")

The cycle seems to be off by three or four years. If the 2304 date for pon farr (established in "Alice" and "Flashback") is correct, then Tuvok would have undergone pon farr in 2374. However, this assumes that pon farr occurs with a frequency of exactly seven years. The few years' difference could have been made up by fourteen cycles of accumulating rounding errors.

Vorik

On stardate 50537.2, Ensign Vorik of the USS Voyager underwent his first pon farr. Due to the Voyager's presence in the Delta Quadrant, he was unable to return to Vulcan. He declared koon-ut-so'lik, a marriage proposal, to B'Elanna Torres, in order to gain a mate.

Vorik was injured unconsciously attempting to form a telepathic mating bond with Torres. While in sickbay, The Doctor determined that Vorik was undergoing pon farr. Vorik noted his intention to satiate his needs through meditation. He was confined to his quarters and wore a cortical monitor.

After discovering from Tuvok that Torres had also undergone pon farr, Vorik had trouble maintaining his composure. The Doctor began administering medication to control Vorik's serotonin levels. The Doctor also designed the holographic T'Pera to serve as Vorik's "self-healing" technique.

The Doctor declared Vorik cured of his pon farr when his cortical levels nearly stabilized following mating with T'Pera. This was a ruse, however, in order to transport to the planet and attempt to mate once more with Torres.

After disabling communications, Vorik arrived at the planet. After witnessing Torres' intention to declare Tom Paris as her mate, Vorik declared koon-ut-kal-if-fee. Torres chose herself as champion and the kal-if-fee was officiated by Tuvok. Vorik was knocked unconscious by Torres and his pon farr ended. (VOY: "Blood Fever")

Sek

Sek, child of Tuvok, underwent pon farr between 2371 and 2374. His mate conceived a child, T'Meni from this union. This news was delivered to Tuvok in 2374 on board the USS Voyager via the Hirogen communications network. (VOY: "Hunters")

Background information

Pon farr was also mentioned in "Gravity" and "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy".

In one draft of the script for the film Star Trek, screenwriters and producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman made a reference to pon farr. "We [...] thought we should save it instead," the writers said of the reference. (Star Trek Magazine issue 149, p. 13)

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