Orgasm Headache

Imagine you are in the heat of the moment; then suddenly you feel severe throbbing in your head and around your eyes as you’re about to orgasm. The pain lasts for several minutes, or maybe it lingers for a couple of hours. These headaches can happen during masturbation or partnered sex. These headaches are usually harmless, and a person can often treat them with over-the-counter pain medications. Unlike migraine headaches, orgasm headaches do not usually occur with nausea or sensitivity to light or sound. They tend to feel like a tension headache with a dull pain in the head and neck that builds up as you become more sexually aroused, leading to a painful headache.

What do they feel like?
  • intense
  • explosive
  • like a clap of thunder
Type and causes:

A sexual benign headache happens because the increase in sexual excitement causes the muscles to contract in your head and neck, resulting in head pain. An orgasm headache, on the other hand, occurs because of a spike in blood pressure that causes your blood vessels to dilate. Movement makes orgasm headaches worse.

Who are more prone to sex headaches? Men are more likely to have orgasm headaches than women?

If your orgasm headache is accompanied by more severe problems, such as a stiff neck or vomiting, it could mean you are dealing with more serious health issues. Seek medical attention ASAP. Your doctor will determine the best course of treatment after identifying the root cause. 

What treatment options are available?

Treating your orgasm headache will depend on the cause. Sex headaches usually aren’t associated with an underlying condition, so taking a pain reliever should be enough to ease symptoms. Your doctor may also prescribe daily or as-needed medication to prevent the onset of sex headaches.

In some cases, head pain during orgasm may indicate a serious issue. If your sex headache is accompanied by neurological problems such as a stiff neck or vomiting, it could mean you’re dealing with:

Your doctor will determine the best course of treatment after identifying the root cause. This may mean starting or stopping medications, having surgery, draining fluids, or undergoing radiation therapy.

When to see your doctor:

Orgasm headaches are normal and usually nothing to worry about. However, a sex headache can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying condition. You should see your doctor if it’s your first-ever sex headache or if it begins abruptly.

You should also see your doctor if you experience:

Visiting your doctor will help you rule out or begin treatment for any serious issues.

How are sex headaches diagnosed?

Although an orgasm headache is usually nothing to worry about, you should still make sure there isn’t anything more serious going on.

After assessing your symptoms, your doctor will perform a series of tests to rule out any neurological issues. They may perform a:

  • MRI of your head to exam the structures within your brain
  • CT scan to look at your head and brain
  • MRA or CT angiography to see the blood vessels in your brain and neck
  • cerebral angiogram to exam your neck and brain arteries
  • spinal tap to determine whether there’s bleeding or infection
Outlook:

An orgasm headache often doesn’t last long. Many people only experience a sex headache once and never again.

Unless there’s an underlying issue, an orgasm headache won’t put you at risk for any complications. Your sex life can continue as it normally would as long as you take your medications to treat or prevent headaches.

On the other hand, if there’s an underlying condition, long-term treatment may necessary. Your doctor is your best resource for information, so talk to them about what you can expect in the short and long term. They can guide you on any next steps

Can you prevent sex headaches?

If you have a history of sex headaches but don’t have an underlying condition, your doctor may prescribe a daily medication to help prevent future headaches.

Other than taking medication, there isn’t much you can do to prevent an orgasm headache. You may be able to avoid one if you stop having sex before you climax. You could also take a more passive role during sex to help prevent or ease the pain of a sex headache.

 
References:
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324719
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Sex headaches.
mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sex-headaches/symptoms-causes/syc-20377477
Primary headache associated with sexual activity (orgasmic and pre-orgasmic headache). (2016).
americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/orgasmic-pre-orgasmic-headache/
Sexual benign headaches. (2007).
headaches.org/2007/10/25/sexual-benign-headaches/
https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sex/orgasm-headache#risk-factors
4.3: Primary headache associated with sexual activity. (n.d.).
https://www.ichd-3.org/other-primary-headache-disorders/4-3-primary-headache-associated-with-sexual-activity/
Allena, M., et al. (2010). Focus on therapy of the Chapter IV headaches provoked by exertional factors: Primary cough headache, primary exertional headache and primary headache associated with sexual activity.
https://thejournalofheadacheandpain.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1007/s10194-010-0261-9
Frese, A., et al. (2007). Headache associated with sexual activity: Prognosis and treatment options.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=17919305
Margo, K. (n.d.). Case studies in headache: Headaches with sexual activity.
https://headaches.org/2009/04/06/case-studies-in-headache-headaches-with-sexual-activity/
Other primary headache disorders. (n.d.).
https://www.ichd-3.org/other-primary-headache-disorders/4-3-primary-headache-associated-with-sexual-activity/
Primary headache associated with sexual activity (orgasmic and pre-orgasmic headache). (n.d.).
https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/orgasmic-pre-orgasmic-headache/
Sexual benign headaches. (n.d.).
https://headaches.org/2007/10/25/sexual-benign-headaches/
Utku, U. (2013). Primary headache associated with sexual activity: Case report.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5586787/
Written by Annamarya Scaccia — Updated on September 18, 2018
ttps://www.medicalnewstoday.com/reviewers/nancy-hammond-md
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/authors/lana-burgess 
Photo credit: Anthony Tran

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