Sex Headaches


By Aleksandra Trkulja with Tanya Koens


A sexual headache is not a figurative concept; it is literally a headache that develops during sex. They are triggered not only during intercourse but oral sex and masturbation too.

Sex headaches are more common for men than women, and research indicates that some medications high in estrogen, such as those used for erectile dysfunction, or birth control, can influence the pain. Some people will experience headaches regularly, while others will experience headaches only a few times.

Pre-orgasmic headaches have a slow onset, and create a dull ache in the neck and head. The cause of this type of headache is associated with clenching in the jaw and neck during sex.  The closer one gets towards climaxing, the more the physical tension and pain builds.

Post-coital headaches are different; they have an abrupt onset that begins during orgasm. This can be quite a shock to those that experience them. It is estimated that 78% of sex headaches are post-coital, and are commonly linked to migraines. According to Migraine Survival this is because migraines and post-coital headaches are considered to include episodic pain, which occurs 75% of the time; and chronic pain, which occurs 25% of the time.

So what is actually happening inside your head during these slow or fast onset headaches? Essentially the pain is caused by fluctuating blood pressure, or blood vessel diameter being inconsistent with the amount of blood passing through.

Usually people resort to medication in an attempt to ease this pain, but as mentioned earlier, some medication can contribute to the pain.  Alternatively, most people experiencing sex headaches will know the only way to help ease the pain is to resist from climaxing.  This certainly is not optimal! 

We propose trying the following strategies:

Don’t be Goal Orientated

Don’t make orgasm the be all and end all of your sexual experience. The pressure will only increase tension. Enjoy the subtle feelings as you feel you body become aroused and respond to different forms of stimulation. Try to remain relaxed and enjoy the different sensations in your body.

A shift in attention can be all it takes to miss an orgasm and can result with you feeling like you have a football between your legs! A missed orgasm can be like a missed sneeze! Being left frustrated can leave the body in a state of tension.  Acknowledge your frustration … lie still, use a cool flannel to calm your genitals and help disperse the blood from the area.  Allow the body to settle if an orgasm is missed.


When pain starts it’s a sign of tension in the body. Slow it down, go back to kissing, stroking, licking, rubbing instead. This might help relieve the tension build up.  Slow the pace, lower the expectations and give yourself permission to have a good time without necessarily climaxing.