Any type of sexual activity that leads to orgasm can trigger sex headaches.
Abrupt-onset and slow-to-build sex headaches can be primary headache disorders not associated with any underlying condition. Sex headaches that come on suddenly are more likely to be associated with:
- A widening or bubble in the wall of an artery inside your head (intracranial aneurysm)
- An abnormal connection between arteries and veins in the brain (arteriovenous malformation) that bleeds into the spinal fluid-filled space in and around the brain
- Bleeding into the wall of an artery leading to the brain (dissection)
- Coronary artery disease
- Use of some medications, such as birth control pills
- Inflammation from certain infections
Sex headaches associated with loss of consciousness, vomiting, stiff neck, other neurological symptoms and severe pain lasting more than 24 hours are more likely to be due to an underlying cause.
April 02, 2015
- Cutrer FM, et al. Cough, exercise, and sex headaches. Neurology Clinics. 2014;32:433.
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- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Jan. 19, 2015.
- Cutrer FM. Primary headache associated with sexual activity. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 19, 2015.
- Headache: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/headache/detail_headache.htm#142883138. Accessed Jan. 19, 2015.
- Bartleson JD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 23, 2015.