Whether it was in an old movie or out of your grandma’s mouth, you’ve probably heard the old, cliché “Not tonight, I have a headache.” If haven’t (you’re not missing out), just know it’s alluding to the old stereotype that women fake headaches to get out of sex. Puhlease.
Okay, rant over. But it turns out that there is a connection between sex and headaches. Only it’s the reverse. That’s right, sex or, more specifically, orgasm-induced headaches are actually more common than you might believe. And it’s ruining fun for men and women.
Women (and men) can experience headaches brought on by sexual excitement and orgasms, called primary sexual headaches, says Isha Gupta, M.D., a neurologist from IGEA Brain and Spine of New Jersey and New York. (The Slim, Sexy, Strong Workout DVD is the fast, flexible workout you’ve been waiting for!)
Though experts aren’t exactly sure why these headaches happen, they fall under the category of exertion-related headaches, which are also triggered by exercise, says Sherry A. Ross, M.D., ob-gyn, author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period
One theory is that the headache may be brought on by the adrenaline that floods the body during intense activity, says Ross. “The adrenaline rush occurs during the excitement phase, and then the letdown period, when the orgasm occurs, brings on the headache,” she says.
Another theory is that when a person coughs, has an orgasm, or strains in general, it increases pressure in the head, which may contribute to this kind of headache, says Gupta.
Regardless of why these sex headaches happen, they usually feel like a dull ache in the head and neck or a sudden, severe, throbbing headache immediately upon achieving an orgasm, says Gupta. Though that can be a serious buzz kill post-O, the headaches often disappear after a few minutes, says Gupta.
Here are 14 other (more fun) facts about your orgasm.
And unlike that woman with a headache = no sex joke, men are actually more likely to get this sex-related headache than women. It is also more likely to strike if you get migraines frequently.
You should visit a doctor after the first time this happens, just to make sure it’s not something serious, says Ross. Generally though, treatment includes less intense sexual activity (sorry), anti-inflammatory drugs, and beta-blockers one hour prior to sexual activity, says Ross.
If you have a sudden, very severe headache for the first time, see your doctor. This is especially important if your headache is accompanied by difficulty speaking, seeing, or moving your arms or legs, says Gupta.