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Coital cephalgia is the medical term for an intense headache that occurs during sexual intercourse or stimulation, usually right before or during orgasm. The term is a combination of the medical word for headache, cephalgia, and coital, the descriptive form of the word coitus, which means sexual intercourse.
Coital cephalgia is also known by the common names sex headache, sexual headache, orgasm headache, benign sex headache, and coital thunderclap headache. It is sometimes written coital cephalalgia.
Coital cephalgia typically begins as a sharp pain at the base of the skull. It then usually travels towards the front of the head and behind the eyes.
Even though coital cephalgia directly translates to sexual intercourse headache, this type of headache can occur during any sexual stimulation, including oral sex and masturbation, with a partner or solo. Some people have just a single episode of coital cephalgia while others have recurring sex headaches.
Various factors can cause coital cephalgia. They can be as innocuous as the muscles in the head contracting during sexual contact or as serious as a hemorrhage, brain tumor, aneurysm, or cerebral infarction. Sex headaches are more likely to be caused by a serious medical problem if the pain occurs suddenly, is very severe, or is coupled with other health problems, including vision issues, nausea, and vomiting.
A history of migraines, stress, and being overweight may make people more likely to experience coital cephalgia. The use of marijuana and amphetamines can also bring on coital cephalgia. Some people find they are more likely to experience sex headaches in certain positions, especially positions involving kneeling. Men are also more likely to experience coital cephalalgia than women.
While most sex headaches are minor problems, people who experience them should seek medical help to rule out any serious health problems. Doctors will usually conduct tests to rule out serious medical ailments, then prescribe medications. Drugs including proponolol, indometacin, triptans, and beta blockers can reduce the risk of sex headaches occurring. Magnesium supplements may also offer some relief.
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