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July 28, 2011

Not Tonight, Dear!

It turns out sex really does give some people a headache.

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Photo Credit: George Doyle/Stockbyte

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Heard of a sex headache? Yeah, neither had we. But according to recent research conducted by the National Headache Foundation, 20 percent of women and 5 percent of men suffer from "exertional headaches" or "pre-orgasmic headaches," also known as sex headaches.

For the unlucky women afflicted, a dull ache starts building on both sides of the head and eyes and intensifies as foreplay continues, or sharp pains can suddenly occur during the buildup to climax, says Dr. Seymour Diamond, executive chairman of the NHF. The aches can last anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour.

"As you're gearing up for orgasm, the muscles in your head, neck, legs, jaw, and pelvic region tighten in preparation for release, and too much muscle tension can cause a headache," says sex therapist Ian Kerner, Ph.D. "Another possible trigger is having too strenuous fast-paced sex, which results in increased blood pressure and blood flow. And for some women, that can cause light-headedness and head pain."

Although sex headaches are undoubtedly a turnoff, they're usually harmless. Women prone to them can pop an aspirin 30 minutes before bedding down, slow down their sexual activity at the onset of the headache, or stick to a more passive position during sex, such as missionary. Or try an unsexier solution: Wear socks to bed. "When you're aroused, your feet tend to be colder than the rest of your body, and the difference in body temperature can bring on a headache in some people," says Kerner. "Syncing up your feet with the rest of your body may help regulate body temperature." Gives new meaning to the phrase "hot sex!"


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