There are two types of sex headaches. The most common variety:
- Gives no warning and occurs within a few seconds of an orgasm
- Is often described as throbbing or stabbing
The other variety of sex headache:
- Often begins as a dull ache on both sides of the head
- May cause tightening of the neck and jaw muscles
- Builds gradually over a matter of minutes before an orgasm
- Intensifies as sexual excitement increases
Most sex headaches last at least several minutes. Others may linger for a few hours. Many people who have sex headaches will experience them in clusters over a few months and then go for a year or more without having any sex headaches.
When to see a doctor
Sex headaches aren't usually a cause for concern. But consult your doctor right away if you experience a headache during sexual activity — especially if it begins abruptly or it's your first headache of this type.
Apr. 24, 2012
- F Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Jan. 31, 2012.
- Headache: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/headache/detail_headache.htm#142883138. Accessed Jan. 31, 2012.
- Preorgasmic headache. International Headache Society. http://ihs-classification.org/en/02_klassifikation/02_teil1/04.04.01_other.html. Accessed Jan. 31, 2012.
- Orgasmic headache. International Headache Society. http://ihs-classification.org/en/02_klassifikation/02_teil1/04.04.02_other.html. Accessed Jan. 31, 2012.
- Lange SE. Primary headache disorders in the emergency department. Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal. 2011;33:237.
- Wong WS, et al. The ''other'' headaches: Primary cough, exertion, sex and primary stabbing headaches. Current Pain and Headache Reports. 2010;14:41.
- Pascual J, et al. Orgasmic headaches: Clinical features, diagnosis and management. Headache. 2000;40:491.
- Pascual J. Other primary headaches. Neurologic Clinics. 2009;27:557.
- Bartleson JD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 14, 2012.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.