Headaches can be used as a reason to postpone sex, “not tonight honey, I have a headache.” However, in rare circumstances, sex can be the cause of a headache. These sex headaches happen moments before or at the peak of sexual excitement, the orgasm. They can happen during solo sex or sex with a partner.
Sex-related headaches are more likely to occur in people who experience migraines and tend to affect more men than women.
This article will clear up some of the confusion about what a sex-related headache is and how to get relief.
What Is a Sex Headache?
Sex headaches are a very rare occurrence, afflicting 1% to 6% of the general population.
This headache can occur right before or immediately after orgasm and last anywhere from one hour to 24 hours. The pain varies from mild to severe, according to American Migraine Foundation (AMF).
These headaches can be a symptom of another health ailment such as a tumor or a stroke, but other times they're not related to anything definitive.
Sex Headaches in Men
Men are about four times more likely than women to experience sex headaches.
There are a few types of sex headaches that people experience:
The orgasm headache may start with a dull ache in the head, neck, and jaw that intensifies with sexual excitement and concludes with a sudden and severe headache at the point of orgasm.
Sexual Benign Headache
The sexual benign headache is a response to an increase in blood pressure during sexual activity. The pain may start around or behind the eyes. It usually lasts a few minutes, but can last for hours.
The headache is usually made worse by movement and can have similar symptoms to a migraine, such as sensitivity to light and nausea.
Causes and Risk Factors
According to the American Migraine Foundation, the pre-orgasmic or organismic headache is a “primary” headache, meaning that it isn't caused by another condition or disorder.
In very few instances, people who experience sex headaches may have a serious underlying condition, such as bleeding around the brain (hemorrhage) or are at risk of stroke.
Much like other genetic conditions, some studies show that sex-related headaches can run in families. Knowing your family history for all sorts of health conditions can be an important part of learning about your own health issues.
People who are overweight or have high blood pressure are at a slightly higher risk of these headaches.
It's best to have a doctor examine you and perform tests to rule out anything unusual.
If you're experiencing sex headaches, your healthcare provider may order blood tests and a CT scan or a MRI to make sure there are no other underlying causes for your symptoms.
Treatment may depend on the type of headache that you have.
- Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs: OTC pain relievers like ibuprofen can help manage headache symptoms.
- Indomethacin: This nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) requires a prescription and can be taken prior to sexual activity. Side effects include the risk of fatal heart attack or stroke.
- Propranolol, metoprolol, or nadolol: These are beta-blockers that lower blood pressure and require a prescription. Side effects include rash, blurred vision, insomnia, hair loss, muscle cramps, and fatigue.
Ironically, sexual activity may also relieve the searing pain you're feeling after the last orgasm.
How Can I Prevent a Sex Headache?
These types of headaches come on suddenly. There are no known prevention methods. If someone who gets migraines is also experiencing sex headaches, they should avoid known migraine triggers such as alcohol, caffeine, and irregular sleep schedule, and artificial sweeteners.
Sex headaches can occur right before orgasm or right after orgasm during solo sex, or sex with a partner. They may be sporadic and not occur during every enounter. People who are susceptible to migraine headaches are also at risk for sex-related headaches. Men are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience a sex headache.
There are some medications available that you can be prescribed to take before sexual activity to offset a headache.
A Word From Verywell
Sex is heart-healthy and good for overall emotional and physical health.
However, a sex-related headache can be painful and scary. If sexual activity causes pain like severe headaches during or immediately after orgasm, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider right away to rule out other conditions.
Your provider will ask you questions to learn more about your symptoms and how often these headaches occur to determine the root cause. They may ask if you get migraines or if other family members experience these types of headaches.
If sex headaches occur with some frequency, it might be a good idea to keep a journal of dates and times of these occurrences.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can sex cure a headache?
Yes. In some cases, sexual activity that leads to an orgasm can alleviate a headache. In other cases, it can make it worse. It depends on the individual.
What types of sex headaches are there?
An orgasm headache may start with a dull ache in the head, neck, and jaw that intensifies with sexual excitement and concludes with a sudden and severe headache at the point of orgasm. A sexual benign headache is a response to an increase in blood pressure during sexual activity.
What home remedies are there for headache relief?
Try keeping the lights dim, drinking water, and taking OTC pain relievers like ibuprofen to treat a headache.
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