Q. I sometimes experience bad headaches during sex. Should I be worried and is there anyway to prevent them?
A. Although sex is often perceived to be a tension reliever because the aftermath of an orgasm leaves a person feeling relaxed and somewhat sedated, sex can result in the wrong kind of fireworks for some people. A small percentage of people, an estimated 1 percent, experience headaches during or after sexual activity. These headaches are also known as "orgasm headaches" or "coital headaches."
Men seem to get sex headaches up to five times more frequently than women, according to the Encyclopedia of Neurological Sciences, although it's an ailment that’s tough to get accurate stats on because doctors may not routinely ask about it and patients may keep quiet because they’re embarrassed to mention sex. A 2003 study in the journal Neurology surveyed 51 patients who had been diagnosed with sex headaches and found that they tended to occur mostly in men, peaking during the early 20s, or in the late 30s and early 40s.
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The Encyclopedia of Neurological Sciences describes three types of sex headaches:
This is said to be similar to a tension headache, and starts with a dull ache on both sides of the head that intensifies during sex. A possible cause is involuntary muscle spasms that can occur during sex.
This severe and throbbing ache occurs right before, during or after an orgasm and is the most common headache associate with sex.
This headache occurs after an orgasm, sometimes arising immediately and sometimes having a delayed onset, but worsening when a person stands up.
Headaches are simple to recognize but hard to diagnose, and are sometimes super-tough to treat. That’s because there are so many potential causes. Sex, like exercise, is a form of physical activity, and headaches while working out are surprisingly common. I wrote about exercise headaches here.
The most common treatment is pain-killers. So if sex headaches are common, you should discuss medical options with your doctor. And if you suddenly start getting them or have a change in the pattern of headaches you get, you should consult with your doctor in case they are signs of an underlying medical condition.
With all headaches, spotting the triggers — and avoiding them — can help. I wrote about which foods and drinks might cause a headache to kick in here. If there is any sign that you have a headache looming, then refraining from sex may also help.
More from MSN Health:
- Suffering from Chronic Migraine? Try These Prevention Tips
- The Pill-Free Headache Fix
- 7 Pains You Shouldn't Ignore
- Is My Headache Related to Sinus Problems?
- Bing: Home Headache Remedies
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