Sex headache is also called coital cephalgia, orgasm headache or primary sexual headache. They can happen to both women and men. Although the exact cause of sex headaches are unknown, but they could be a form of exertion or exercise headache. They could also be due to muscle tension or high blood pressure. Anyone prone to getting headaches during or just after a vigorous workout may also be prone to sex headaches.
There are three types of sex headaches: early coital cephaligia which tends to stop during orgasm; orgasmic coital cephalgia which occurs just before or during orgasm; and late coital cephalgia which can happen hours after the sex act and can last for days. “Migraines For Dummies” (Wiley Publishing; 2003) recommends that any headache or migraine that goes on longer than 72 straight hours is a medical emergency.
Another theory for the cause of sex headaches is the intense muscle tension that happens during sex, especially around the neck and head muscles. This constant tightness, coupled with highly physical nature of the sex act, may trigger nerves to send pain signals to the brain.
After sex is complete, pain tends to quickly go away in the first two types of sex headaches. The National Headache Foundation recommends massage of the neck and shoulders before or during sex to help the headache sufferer and to take a painkiller before the sex act.
Rise in Blood Pressure
Sex gets the blood pounding, which is not always good for a person’s blood pressure. This may contribute to sex headaches, but only rarely. Some people still have their headache even long after their blood pressure returns to a normal rhythm. Some people may even have migraines which usually affects only one side of the head and can be accompanied by nausea, dizziness and sensitivity to lights and sounds.
But many people with migraines or other types of headaches take blood pressure medication as a preventative. These medications include beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers. Although these medications are not approved for treating headaches or migraines, they are often prescribed off-label for that treatment. The National Headache Foundation suggests that people with predictable early coital cephaligia or orgasmic coital cephalgia talk to their doctors about blood pressure medications.
The most severe type of sex headache is late coital cephalgia, where sufferers often have to be hospitalized. There could be an internal injury to the spine that was suffered during the sex act. Stroke may have developed. Also, some people may get temporary amnesia or become far more confused than normal. This needs immediate hospitalization.
“Migraines For Dummies.” Diane Stafford & Jennifer Shoquist, MD. Wiley Publishing; 2003.
Patient UK. “Primary Sexual Headache.” http://www.patient.co.uk/showdoc/40001768/
National Headache Foundation. “Not tonight dear, I have a headache.” http://www.headaches.org/blog/?p=236