Benign Sexual Headaches


Benign sex headaches are severe headaches that occur during an orgasm. Despite the name of this condition, benign sex headaches are often quite painful. This condition has been known to exist since the time of Hippocrates (about 460 B.C), but only during the 1970's was it formally addressed by K. Kritz. Other names for this condition are coital cephalalgia, orgasmic cephalagia, and benign coital headache.


There are two kinds of benign sex headaches, the first being described as a sudden explosive pain in the head during the point of orgasm. Patients have described the feeling to be like a sudden blow to the head, to a sudden throb like pulses similar to a migraine. The other type is described as a pain that intensifies as the onset of orgasm nears. In some instances both types of benign sex headache occur, the first type occurring immediately after the second type. There have also been documented cases where standing up after coitus has produced headaches. This type of coital headache is relatively rare. It can last for several weeks, and lying down relieves the pain.

Benign sex headaches occur more often in males then women, and there is a wide age of occurrence, ranging from ages 18 to 60. They are not limited to sexual intercourse; they can be triggered by any activity that ends up in orgasm (i.e. masturbation). This condition has an unpredictable occurrence, sometimes occurring at regular intervals, while in other cases it happens sporadically. However it is known that there is a higher risk of incidence if one is tired, stressed, and engaging in sexual intercourse several times in rapid succession. Having a history of migraines or tension headaches also increases the likelihood of having benign sex headaches.

The duration of the headache also varies from individual to individual. It may last just a few minutes, or in more severe cases it can last a couple of hours to a day. The common factor in all cases is the intense pain in the first 5-15 minutes, then gradually subsiding as time passes. Coital headaches can also intensify certain preexisting conditions such as high blood pressure and other vascular problems, and may result in a stroke. Such complications are rare, but are important to note.

People who suffer from this condition should be reassured that this is rarely life threatening. Most of the time this problem will disappear on its own, but if the headaches occur frequently you should see a doctor. Once the headache has been determined to be benign via a CT (computed topography) scan, there is little to worry about. Some treatments used, if the problem persists are beta-blockers, which reduce blood pressure and are commonly used to treat migraines. To prevent further reoccurrence of benign sex headaches, the drug propranolol (sold under the name Inderal) is sometimes prescribed. 

*Note: This article is located under Male Difficulty simply because benign sexual headaches are more common in males than women. However, women may also experience these headaches.


1. LeVay, Simon, Janice I. Baldwin, and John D. Baldwin. Discovering Human Sexuality. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2009. Print.

Last Updated 15 April 2014.

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