What Are Orgasm Headaches and Why Do They Happen?
Orgasm headaches, also called sex headaches, are more or less what it says on the tin: a headache that can happen suddenly as a person orgasms, immediately after, or at the beginning of sexual arousal, increasing in severity as they become more and more sexually excited.
Some people who experience these headaches may do so infrequently. However, others may have repeated and consistent episodes that can make sexual activity difficult and painful to partake in, and may even be a sign of a serious underlying health problem.
Symptoms and causes of orgasm headaches
There are two main types of orgasm headaches—ones that build slowly and ones that occur suddenly and severely. The former typically begins as a dull ache in the head and neck, which continues to get worse the more sexually excited you get, peaking in severity at orgasm. The other, more common type manifests as a sudden and severe throbbing in the head and neck immediately before and/or during sexual climax. Some people experience a combination of these two types of orgasm headaches.
While these headaches typically last from several minutes to half an hour, some people may experience lingering pain for hours or even days. The Mayo Clinic reports that sufferers typically have orgasm headaches in clusters over the course of a few months, and then go a year or more without having another. Some people may only have a single cluster of orgasm headaches in their lifetime. The condition is more prevalent in men than in women.
In most cases, orgasm headaches aren't caused by anything serious and will go away on their own. However, research indicates some instances of orgasm headaches could be connected to stroke, coronary artery disease, certain medications (including birth control), inflammation from infection, intracranial aneurysm, internal bleeding and more. Be sure to tell your doctor right away if you experience an orgasm headache, so that possible serious health problems can be ruled out, especially if the headache was long-lasting or accompanied by vomiting, stiff muscles or loss of consciousness.
Learning to cope
There's nothing like a severe headache to kill the mood. Thankfully, there are ways you can cope and regain power over your sex life.
If a medical evaluation has determined that your orgasm headaches are not caused by a serious underlying condition, you can rest easy knowing for most people the headaches dissipate after a few months. During this time, you might try being intimate with your partner without reaching the point of orgasm. That may not seem like an ideal solution, but it could be a great opportunity to focus on giving pleasure to your partner and emphasize intimacy itself.
However, if the headaches hang around too long or you just want to avoid them in general, there are treatment options available.
There's nothing to be ashamed of: Your doctor has heard it all before and will have advice and medication that will help get you back to headache-free orgasms.
Once you've been cleared of other potential health problems, your doctor may recommend you take daily or intermittent preventive medication. Individuals with frequent or prolonged episodes are sometimes prescribed beta blockers—the type of medicine often used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease and migraines. These medications are taken daily and can prevent headaches altogether.
Intermittent medication options include indomethacin, which is an anti-inflammatory drug, or a triptan, which is a class of drugs used to treat migraines. These medications are meant to be taken occasionally and are most effective when taken about an hour before sex. Orgasm headaches caused by an underlying condition can often be cured by addressing the primary cause.
Many people miss out on effective treatment and necessary health screenings due to their embarrassment at having orgasm headaches in the first place. However, there's nothing to be ashamed of: Your doctor has heard it all before and will have advice and medication that will help get you back to headache-free orgasms.