Sexual Health Overview (cont.)

Is it true that sex can actually give some people a headache?

Yes, it's true. Medically, the condition is known as coital cephalalgia, and surprisingly, it affects men more often than women -- surprising because in general women get more headaches than men. While no one is certain what's behind the problem, some say it may be related to the sudden change in blood flow and subsequent drop in blood pressure following orgasm. Others contend it may be the result of a release of adrenaline that floods the body during periods of intense sexual activity. While some folks can have sex headaches for several weeks followed by permanent remission, for others the problem may come and go indefinitely, or sometimes be present with every sexual encounter. Although you might not suffer from migraine headaches, sex headaches are thought to be chemically related and frequently respond to similar treatments. One word of caution: Don't assume that a headache you experience after sex is a sex headache. Experts say sometimes benign lesions in the brain or aneurysms (a blood vessel disorder) can also cause headaches after sex. To rule out such problems, don't diagnose yourself -- see your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Sexual Problems Overview. Sexuality and Information Council of the United States: Fact Sheet on Sexuality in Middle and Later Life. "The Too Fast Lane," MedicineNet.com. "Impotence: Signs and Symptoms Index," Medicine.com. "Erectile Dysfunction," Medicinenet.com. "Sexual Dysfunction in Women: What Can I Do If Sex Isn't Working For Me?" FamilyDoctor.org. WebMD Reference in collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic: "Sexual Health: Vaginal Infections." Priapism, The Cleveland Clinic web site. "Curvature of the Penis," Medline Plus web site. "Penis Pain", Medline Plus.org Medical Encyclopedia. Sexual Pain Disorder, MedicineNet.com. WebMD Reference in collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic: "Sexual Health: Female Pain During Sex." WebMD Feature: "A Woman's Guide to Revving Sex Drive." "Drugs That May Cause Impotence," MedlinePlus.org. WebMD Medical News: "Orgasm Can Bring Headache." WebMD Medical News: "Headaches After Sex." Retrograde Ejaculation, Medical Encyclopedia, MedlinePlus.org.

Reviewed by Debbie Bridges, MD on March 12, 2010

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Last Editorial Review: 3/10/2010