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Headache triggers: Sex and exercise

Taking exercise or having sex can cause headaches called exertional headaches for some people.

Headaches that most frequently occur due to exercise or overexertion include jogger's headache and orgasmic headache, or sex headache.

Sex headaches are known as coital cephalgia or HAS - headaches associated with sexual activity. Pre-orgasmic headache may begin during sex as sexual excitement increases, with symptoms of a dull ache in the head and neck. Orgasmic headache is another type, described as being a sudden 'explosive' headache at orgasm.

Sex headaches may be due to increased pressure in the head and neck muscles.

Sex headaches are not thought to be common but are probably under-reported by people who may be too embarrassed to talk about the symptoms.

Sex headaches are poorly understood, and can have negative effect on a person's sex life if they are concerned the headaches will occur.
The NHS suggests taking a painkiller a few hours before having sex to help block the headache.

Some medication has been linked with sex headaches, including the heart drug amiodarone, contraceptive pills, the decongestant pseudoephedrine, cannabis and some drugs for erectile difficulties.

Depending on the severity of the sex headaches, doctor may prescribe pre-emptive treatment for a person to take before having sex to try to prevent the headache.

Most exertional headaches are benign and respond to usual headache treatments. Some exertional headaches are particularly responsive to indomethacin, and other similar anti-inflammatory medicines available with a doctor's prescription.

However, to rule out other medical causes, some of which can be life-threatening, you should ask your doctor to evaluate your headaches.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on August 05, 2016

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