What Your Headache After Sex Really Means

"Not tonight honey, I have a headache," is that cliche of what a 1950s housewife would say when she wasn't in the mood. But that's not you, and you were in the mood. Everything was feeling fabulous, but just moments before that moment of much-anticipated bliss arrived, something terrible happened. A sudden, throbbing, mood-killing headache ruined everything. Ironically, a headache that happens before an orgasm is called an "orgasm headache," according to Healthline. Although... being startled by pain is pretty anticlimactic. The orgasm you were about to have likely will never happen.

What causes this monstrous assault upon your sex life? According to MayoClinic, it's usually just a fluke — but more serious medical conditions can cause them, too, so check with your doctor the first time you experience one, or if you lose consciousness, vomit, or the pain lasts more than 24 hours. 

"Many people who experience headaches during sexual activity are too embarrassed to tell their physicians, and doctors often don't ask," José Biller, M.D., Chair of the Department of Neurology with the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, told Neurology Times. "Headaches associated with sexual activity can be extremely painful and scary. They also can be very frustrating, both to the individual suffering the headache and to the partner."

Who gets orgasm headaches?

It sometimes seems like women draw the shorter end of the straw when it comes to discomforts involving the reproductive organs — after all, they get the menstrual cramps and the labor pains, and when all of that is over, hot flashes. The joys of being a girl! But orgasm headaches are more of a male problem, Biller said; three out of four headaches that happen during sex happen to men. Around 1 percent of people experience this condition, according to the British Journal of Medical Practitioners, but experts suspect the number of cases is vastly underreported. The typical presentation, researchers reported, is "a male patient, middle-aged, in poor physical shape, mildly to moderately overweight, and mildly to moderately hypertensive," which means having higher-than-normal blood pressure. Women who get these headaches fit a different profile. They may be migraine sufferers, and sometimes, there's a psychological element at play.

The good news? An orgasm headache can be a once-in-a-lifetime thing, or something you deal with on and off for a few weeks during sexual encounters, then never again in your life. And according to Biller, a healthier lifestyle — losing weight, exercising more, not drinking to excess — can be just what the doctor orders to stave off these mood-killing incidents. That way, you and your partner can have more fun finishing what you started.