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Identifying & Treating Sex- and Orgasm-Related Headaches

Posts about sex-related headaches are among the most frequently read and commented upon on The Daily Headache. Want more information about these headaches? Here are two must-read articles:

Preorgasmic and Orgasmic Headaches Are Not Migraine explains primary sexual headache (PSH), which are headaches that accompany sex but are not related to a headache disorder like migraine or cluster headaches, and describes treatment.

Sex as a “Cure” for Migraine or Cluster Headache? What’s the Deal? shares the statistics on sex decreasing or increasing migraine or cluster headache pain.

Only your doctor can determine whether your sex- or orgasm-related headaches are a primary disorder or part of another headache disorder. Whether you have experienced headaches in the past or not, it is important to see a doctor to get the correct diagnosis and treatment.

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Prevention of Headaches or Migraines Triggered By Sex or Orgasm

Having a headache or migraine triggered by sex or an orgasm is a pretty cruel emotional injustice. Fortunately, preventing a sex-induced headache or migraine is surprisingly simple. And, no, the answer is not to avoid having sex. The most commonly prescribed treatment is indomethacin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory that’s a close relative to ibuprofen, taken an hour before sex.

Those of you who don’t want to go to the doctor may deduce that you can pop a couple Advil and avoid the headache. Please don’t! The headache or migraine may be triggered by benign causes like a tightening of the head and neck muscles or a response to increased blood pressure and heart rate during orgasm. However, it could also be the sign of a brain hemorrhage,  stroke, heart disease, glaucoma, or other disorder. Instead of attempting to treat it yourself, please see a doctor to make sure there’s not a serious background cause.

Several trustworthy online sources say that taking a triptan an hour before sex is an effective treatment for orgasm-induced migraines. I asked a headache specialist about this and was told that this could cause a stroke. The specialist said that because both triptans and orgasms constrict blood vessels, the blood vessels could constrict too much during an orgasm. I’m not sure which source is correct here, but I stay on the side of caution and only take a triptan after an orgasm has triggered a migraine.

More information: