Imagine this: You’re in the heat of the moment, then all of a sudden you feel severe throbbing in your head as you’re about to orgasm. The pain lasts for several minutes, or maybe it lingers for a couple of hours.

What you may have experienced is known as an orgasm headache, a — but often harmless — type of sex headache that happens before or at the moment of sexual release.

An orgasm headache is one of two types of sex headaches. You’ll know you’re having an orgasm headache if you feel a sudden, severe, throbbing pain in your head before or during sexual release.

The second type is a sexual benign headache. Sexual benign headaches start as a dull pain in the head and neck that builds up as you become more sexually aroused, leading to a painful headache.

Some people may experience both types of headaches at once. They usually last several minutes, but some headaches can continue for hours or even up to three days.

Sex headaches can happen as a one-time attack or in clusters over a few months. of all people who have sex headaches have them over a six-month period. Some research has shown that of all sex headaches are chronic and occur for more than a year.

Although sex headaches can occur at any point during sexual activity, the two types actually have different causes.

A sexual benign headache happens because the increase in sexual excitement causes the muscles to contract in your head and neck, resulting in head pain. A orgasm headache, on the other hand, occurs because of a spike in blood pressure that causes your blood vessels to dilate. Movement makes orgasm headaches worse.

Men are to have orgasm headaches than women. People who already experience migraine headaches are also to have a sex headache.

Treating your orgasm headache will depend on the cause. Sex headaches usually aren’t associated with an underlying condition, so taking a pain reliever should be enough to ease symptoms. Your doctor may also prescribe daily or as-needed medication to prevent the onset of sex headaches.

In some cases, head pain during orgasm may indicate a serious issue. If your sex headache is accompanied by neurological problems such as a stiff neck or vomiting, it could mean you’re dealing with:

Your doctor will determine the best course of treatment after identifying the root cause. This may mean starting or stopping medications, having surgery, draining fluids, or undergoing radiation therapy.

Orgasm headaches are normal and usually nothing to worry about. However, a sex headache can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying condition. You should see your doctor if it’s your first-ever sex headache or if it begins abruptly.

You should also see your doctor if you experience:

Visiting your doctor will help you rule out or begin treatment for any serious issues.

Although an orgasm headache is usually nothing to worry about, you should still make sure there isn’t anything more serious going on.

After assessing your symptoms, your doctor will perform a series of tests to rule out any neurological issues. They may perform a:

  • MRI of your head to exam the structures within your brain
  • CT scan to look at your head and brain
  • MRA or CT angiography to see the blood vessels in your brain and neck
  • cerebral angiogram to exam your neck and brain arteries
  • spinal tap to determine whether there’s bleeding or infection

An orgasm headache often doesn’t last long. Many people only experience a sex headache once and never again.

Unless there’s an underlying issue, an orgasm headache won’t put you at risk for any complications. Your sex life can continue as it normally would as long as you take your medications to treat or prevent headaches.

On the other hand, if there’s an underlying condition, long-term treatment may necessary. Your doctor is your best resource for information, so talk to them about what you can expect in the short and long term. They can guide you on any next steps.

If you have a history of sex headaches but don’t have an underlying condition, your doctor may prescribe a daily medication to help prevent future headaches.

Other than taking medication, there isn’t much you can do to prevent an orgasm headache. You may be able to avoid one if you stop having sex before you climax. You could also take a more passive role during sex to help prevent or ease the pain of a sex headache.