Sex headaches are headaches brought on by sexual activity — especially an orgasm. You may notice a dull ache in your head and neck that builds up as sexual excitement increases. Or, more commonly, you may experience a sudden, severe headache just before or during orgasm.
Most sex headaches are nothing to worry about. But some can be a sign of something serious, such as problems with the blood vessels that feed your brain.
There are two types of sex headaches. The most common variety:
The other variety of sex headache:
Most sex headaches last about 30 minutes. Others may linger for a few hours. Many people who have sex headaches will experience them in clusters lasting a few months, and then go for a year or more without any sex headaches.
When to see a doctor
Any type of sexual activity that leads to orgasm — including masturbation, oral sex and intercourse — can trigger sex headaches.
Slow-to-build sex headaches
Abrupt sex headaches
Other causes that have been associated with sex headaches include:
Sex headaches can affect anyone. But risk factors for these headaches include:
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by first seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to a neurologist. Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For headaches associated with sexual activity, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment whenever you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
A less invasive version of this test uses MRI or CT, instead of threading a catheter through your blood vessels.
Treatments and drugs
In some cases, your first sex headache may also be your last one. And many sex headaches last for such a short period of time, the pain is gone before any pill you take can work. Because of reports that engaging in sex soon after experiencing a sex headache can cause even worse pain, you may be advised to refrain from sexual activity until your last headache has completely resolved.
Sometimes sex headaches can be prevented by stopping sexual activity before orgasm. Taking a more passive role during sex also may help.
Last Updated: 2010-02-20
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