Not Tonight, Honey. I Have A Headache

Aug 16, 2012 • Science

Headaches are caused by sex

Headaches. And we’re not feeding you a line so we won’t have to put out. We’re talking about headaches caused by sex. Consider this snippet from a paper that the inimitable Scicurious (if you like science and sex and you’re not following her on Twitter, we pity you) has brought to our attention:

Headaches associated with sexual activity are uncommon (Anand & Dhikav, 2009). Pre-orgasmic headache may be related to space-occupying lesions. Orgasmic headache is often severe and excruciating, whether due to aneurysm rupture or to the explosive component of benign coital headache. Post-orgasmic headache may occur as a manifestation of migraine (Banerjee, 1996).

A study by Frese et al. (2003) stratified headaches associated with sexual activity and found that there was a male preponderance. It has two onset peaks (between 20–24 and 35–44 years). It can be dull type, increasing gradually with sexual excitement or explosive type. Pain can be bilateral and diffuse or occipital. Headache associated with sexual activity has not been shown to be dependent upon specific sexual habits and occurs often after having sexual activity with partner or during masturbation.

There was a high co-morbidity with migraine and other types of headaches (e.g., benign exertional and tension-type). The mechanism of headache induced by sexual activity is mainly a trigeminal-vascular effect, but there is a definite muscular component (Anand & Dhikav, 2009). Muscular contraction plays a major role, especially in milder headaches that become more intense as the sexual excitement increases.

Sex-related headaches are real, mostly affect men and seem to be related to excitement.

Header image by Diamond Farah.