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Understanding the Sexual Headache and How to Get Rid of Coital Cephalalgia

One partner is experiencing a sexual headache while the other partner watches in concern

Medically Reviewed By:

Mary K. Polinard, BSN, RN, CNOR

Some people joke about using the excuse of a headache to avoid sex, but a sexual headache is a legitimate medical condition that affects many individuals when engaging in sexual activity. The condition is called coital cephalalgia, and it most often occurs right before, during, or after an orgasm. Oftentimes, these headaches are nothing to seriously worry about and pass quickly. However, it’s possible they could indicate a more serious blood flow problem that could impact the brain.

Here is some information about what coital cephalalgia is, what causes this type of headache during sex, what the symptoms are, and how to find relief from those symptoms.

Why a Sexual Headache Occurs

Many different types of physical and strenuous activity can trigger headaches, including sex that leads to orgasm. This is because sexual excitement can bring on throbbing in the neck and head with varying degrees of pain. These types of headaches typically come on suddenly and build up intensity slowly over time. Men are more likely than women to experience sexual headaches. However, anyone who commonly experiences migraines is more at risk of experiencing coital cephalalgia as well.1,2

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What a Headache During Sex Could Mean

A headache during sex could be a primary headache disorder that is not connected to any more serious medical condition at all. However, a sex headache could also be a sign of an intracranial aneurysm, which is a widening in the wall of an artery of the head. It could also mean that a person is having a stroke, experiencing symptoms of coronary artery disease, having inflammation from an infection, or bleeding into an artery that leads to the brain.2

Symptoms of a Sexual Headache

A sexual headache can feel like a dull ache in the head and neck that worsens as sexual excitement builds up. It can also present itself as a sudden headache that is throbbing and intensifies right before or during an orgasm. Because sexual headaches feel differently in different individuals, they are often mistaken for other headache conditions. The headaches typically last only a few minutes and occur in clusters over the course of several months before clearing up for a year or longer. For some, this type of headache may only ever occur once.2

How to Get Rid of Coital Cephalalgia

Anyone who experiences a headache during sex that does not go away on its own with at-home treatment may want to consult a physician. This is especially true for a person who experiences a severe sexual headache for the first time. A physician may take an MRI or CT scan of the brain to rule out the possibility of a more serious condition.1,2

For future prevention, it may help to take a more passive role during sexual activity and approach sex in a more relaxed way.2

Vanquish® is indicated for tension headaches. If you have a cluster headache, sinus headache, migraine headache or any other type of headache you may want to consult a doctor.

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References for Understanding the Sexual Headache and How to Get Rid of Coital Cephalalgia

1. American Migraine Foundation. Primary headache associated with sexual activity (Orgasmic and Pre-orgasmic Headache). Retrieved on August 26, 2019 from https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/orgasmic-pre-orgasmic-headache/.
2. Mayo Clinic. Sex Headaches. Retrieved on August 26, 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sex-headaches/symptoms-causes/syc-20377477.

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