One out of every 360 cases of headaches falls into the category of coital cephalgia, otherwise known as sex headaches. This type of headache can occur during sex or masturbation, most especially during orgasm. While this type of headache is quite rare, it occurs in men more than it does in women. The headache itself is benign and usually is a standalone symptom; however, there are cases where coital cephalgia is actually a symptom of an underlying condition, therefore it should not be ignored.
The Occurrence of Sex Headaches
Sex headaches may be experienced during sex or masturbation, during orgasm, or soon after performing any sexual act. The headaches usually start as a dull ache at the base of the skull and often, the headache progresses and moves up to the frontal lobes. The pain with coital cephalgia differs depending on what type it is. It could be a dull, short-lasting pain during the sex, a sudden sharp pain during orgasm, or post-coital headaches that could last up to 24 hours after having sex. Some people experience it once and it may take years for it to happen again. In cases where it happens often, then it might mean that there’s some underlying condition that’s causing the headaches.
Coital cephalgia can be considered an exertion headache or a headache related to overexertion and exercise. The exact cause of coital cephalgia has not been identified yet; however, it is attributed to the rise in blood pressure and tension in the muscles experienced during sex. As the blood pressure increases, the pressure in the head also increases, causing the dull pain felt on the base of the skull. Although it is rare, headaches experienced during and after sex may be a symptom of something worse. Aneurysms, tumors, meningitis, strokes, bleeding in the skull, and several endocrine disorders can also trigger sex headaches. In cases where doctors suspect any of the serious illnesses to be the trigger of the headache, an MRI or CT scan may be ordered to determine if it is indeed a symptom of something more dangerous.
Prevention of Headaches Associated with Sex
Similar to most headaches, preventing it from happening is better than trying to relieve the pain; however, in this case the only way to prevent the headaches from happening is to abstain from sex or masturbation entirely. It sounds like a simple solution, but not many are willing to give it up. Another possible solution for people who experience coital cephalgia is to take on a more passive role or position during sex. If the headaches happen often, but aren’t related to any underlying illness, doctors may prescribe preventive medication like beta blockers such as Propranolol to be taken before having sex.
Treating this type of headache is much simpler than trying to stop it from happening. Taking pain relievers or analgesics containing caffeine may help, as does applying cold compress to the affected area or resting in a quiet and dark room.
Most of the time, the first time you experience coital cephalgia is also your last; however, if it happens quite often and the sex headaches become more severe, it is best to see your doctor immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.
If you’re experiencing any type of headache pain, schedule an appointment with one of our headache specialists and doctors immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.