Woman massaging her partner's head in the comfort of their home

Headaches Caused by Sex: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

It’s true: “I have a headache” isn’t just some cliché excuse for not being in the mood. Headaches caused by sex are a very real thing, and can happen in the middle of sex, during climax, or right afterwards. Some people notice a slow, dull ache building around their neck and up the back of their head, and for others, the headache is sudden and severe just before or during orgasm.

In general, post sex headaches aren’t a serious threat to your health, but they can certainly become a big nuisance when it comes to your love life. At the same time, there is a chance that these headaches are indicative of a bigger health problem — so you should definitely inform your doctor about them.

But first, let’s break down some of the basic facts and potential causes you should know about about in case you, or your partner, are experiencing headaches caused by sex.

1. Symptoms

Most commonly, sex headaches fall into one of two different categories:

  • A dull ache in the head and neck that intensifies as sex progresses
  • A sudden and intense headache after sex, possibly occurring just before or after orgasm

The duration of these headaches also varies. Some headaches caused by sex only last for a minute or two, while other people might suffer them for hours on end.

Similarly, the frequency of this condition changes on a person-by-person basis; for some, the headaches will appear in clusters over a period of months, or years, while other people might only experience them once or twice (or, if they’re lucky, never) in their lifetime.

2. Causes

Post sex headaches and mid-session irritations can be caused by any type of sexual activity that causes arousal and stimulation. The exact reason for these headaches isn’t known for certain, but many doctors theorize that they are caused by a sudden rise in blood pressure, which occurs during sex in the build-up to climax.

It should also be noted that there’s no evidence showing that headaches caused by sex are more common in people who have a general condition of high blood pressure. In fact, sex headaches have been more commonly cited amongst younger males, who usually have lower blood pressure — so the whole thing remains a bit of a mystery.

Just like the common variety, post sex headaches tend to be more common among people with high stress levels due to busy everyday and professional lives. It’s not uncommon for these stress levels to come to a head during intercourse.

3. Treatments

An intense headache after sex (or during) may only last for a very short period, therefore no medication is needed. But if that pain continues to linger for hours on end, you might require some form of medication.

If you reach this point, you should absolutely consult your primary physician for advice on safe medication — and to rule out other underlying causes that could potentially be more harmful to your health.

But there are some simple steps you can take on your own to try and relieve the pain.

  • Relaxing and having a short rest with a cold compress on your head can help.
  • You should also make a conscious effort to remain as relaxed and calm as possible during sex to try and prevent these headaches from happening in the first place.
  • Rather than rushing towards an orgasm and tightening up your body, try to slowly build towards a climax and let go of the built-up tension in your body.

If the headaches are so severe that they are affecting the quality or your life, then your doctors may prescribe a beta-blocker drug that has the effect of lowering blood pressure, slowing your pulse, and helping to reduce anxiety. If the headaches are really bad and last for a long period of time, then your GP may refer you to a neurologist for further investigation.

Headaches caused by sex can last a couple of minutes, however, for some people the pain can linger for hours. The more serious it is, the sooner you should consult a doctor to rule out a more serious condition. Remember: safe sex goes beyond condoms — so make sure you’re looking out for your overall well-being!

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