When you put the words "headache" and "sex" together it usually means you, or your partner just aren’t in the mood (or really do have a headache). But sometimes, headaches are a result of having sex. Also called, orgasmic headache or orgasmic cephalgia, sex headaches often occur just before or during orgasm. They are more common in men than in women and are more common in those who suffer from migraines.
When the headache starts prior to orgasm, it usually builds throughout arousal. When the headache occurs at orgasm, it usually strikes very quickly - a sharp pain in the back of your head just above your neck. For many, the headache lasts anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, however, some men do report it lasting for several hours.
Scientists aren’t sure what causes these headaches but there are two possible explanations. One is that the muscles in the neck quickly tighten during orgasm and this causes the pain. The other is that there is a sudden increase in blood pressure during orgasm and that is what causes the pain. Usually, this type of headache is not dangerous, however, an aneurysm or internal hemorrhage can cause the same symptoms and you should talk with your doctor to rule these out.
The sex headache can be a one-time thing or can last several weeks or months before finally going away. It is most common when men are between the ages of 20 and 25 years old and then again from 35 to 45 years old.
What You Can Do
While scientists aren’t sure exactly what causes an orgasmic headache, there are some things you can do:
Have more foreplay. Sex headaches tend to appear if you quickly reach orgasm, possibly because of the jump in blood pressure. When you take things slower, you won’t have that spike in blood pressure and it can lessen sex headaches.
Take ibuprofen about 30 minutes before having sex. Some research shows that being proactive and taking an ibuprofen before having sex can reduce the pain associated with this type of headache.
Change sexual positions. If your favorite sexual position puts undue stress on certain parts of your body, such as your shoulders and neck, try experimenting with other positions to see if the pain goes away.
Talk to your doctor. Some prescription medications, such as beta-blockers, have been found to reduce the frequency and intensity of the headaches.
Make lifestyle changes. If your pain is caused by stress or tightening of neck muscles, regular exercise and stress-reducing strategies, such as meditation or yoga, might help.
Talk to your partner. To avoid your partner being offended if you turn away, quickly end your lovemaking or are wary of having sex, tell your partner what is happening.
The best course of action is to talk with your doctor to make sure there isn’t any underlying medical reasons for your pain. If you lose consciousness, become nauseous or vomit with the pain, seek immediate medical help.
"Can Sex Give You a Headache?" 2012, July 19, Madeline Haller, MensHealth.com
"Orgasm and Headaches," Updated 2010, Feb 2, Dr. David Delvin, NetDoctor.com
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.