It's a strange case, to be sure. A man in India had to be seen by neurologists to determine why each time he watched pornographic movies, he would get a severe headache. These sex headaches were so painful that the man had to stop his viewing every time. Was it some sort of sign from above? Most likely not, as there is a little known category of headache actually known as a "primary headache associated with sexual activity."
For a period of two years, this 24-year-old healthy, single man would feel the sex headache coming on within five minutes of starting to watch pornography.1 In the eight to 10 minutes that followed, the headache would progress to an acute pain. His physicians took a medical history and found the patient did not have a history of migraines or any other kind of regular headaches, including during previous sexual activity. Both a physical examination and neurological testing found nothing unusual, and he had no reported injuries to the head.
The unexplained nature of these porn headaches is what led doctors to classify them as primary headaches associated with sexual activity. An example of science at its finest, the medical community simply stuck a label on this unexplained health issue. And they have divided the category into two subcategories. The Indian man has the less common version of the sex headaches, which are those that progress over the course of several minutes as sexual arousal increases. The other variant is an explosive headache that appears as a person reaches orgasm. That type is reported to physicians more frequently, perhaps because people who experience them are afraid to engage in sexual activity for fear of it happening again.
At any rate, theories abound as to why primary headaches associated with sexual activity occur. Possible causes include extra-sensitive nerves in the face, contractions of the jaw muscles, or cranial blood vessels that are quick to respond to the body's reactions during sex. These headaches are believed to affect approximately one percent of people worldwide. At first that may not sound like a lot, but it works out to about 70 million people worldwide who already suffer, or will soon be suffering from the condition. Sufferers are more likely to be male than female and about half of them get migraine headaches, although no causal links have been established between the two types of headaches.
On a positive note, one study on sex headaches at the University of Munster in Germany found that for 37 of 45 participants who had only had one attack prior to the start of the research, it never recurred.2 And for seven of the remaining eight volunteers, although they had at least one more sex-related headache, the problem stopped occurring in an average of 2.1 months. Only one poor subject in that study ended up with a chronic case of sex headaches.
The patient in India reportedly responded well to taking ibuprofen and acetaminophen together prior to a pornographic viewing. (Then again, he could have just stopped watching.) And while it's good news that he found something to help him, one can only hope he does not watch too frequently because non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications such as ibuprofen raise the risk of internal bleeding and have been linked to erectile dysfunction -- which would certainly make watching pornography a lot less enjoyable -- and severe liver damage, as does acetominophen. In other cases, patients with primary sex headaches are prescribed indomethacin, a stronger NSAID used primarily for treating rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.3 This drug is associated with potentially fatal heart attacks and stroke, the chances of which increase the longer you use it. It also may result in the formation of ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. So, although no one wants to end up with a serious headache every time they engage in a sexual act, these alternatives are even worse.
What can you do if you are suddenly stricken by a primary sex headache? Start by getting a complete examination, including neurological testing if necessary. Sometimes these headaches do have a known cause (which actually changes their label to secondary sex headaches, FYI) that can be cured. But if you are in the unlucky one percent for whom a reason cannot be procured, then you are a perfect candidate for something like the Baseline of Health Program, which is designed for non specific, chronic conditions that have no identifiable medical cause. It works because it's designed to optimize your body's ability to repair itself. If you haven't already done so, check out Lessons from the Miracle Doctors, which explains the program in detail.
1 Rowan, Karen. "Porn gives man severe headaches." MSNBC. 28 June 2012. Accessed 3 July 2012. <http://bodyodd.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/28/12465722-porn-gives-man-severe-headaches?lite>.
2 Frese, A. et al. "Headache associated with sexual activity: prognosis and treatment options." National Library of Medicine. 5 October 2007. Accessed 5 July 2012. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17919305?dopt=Abstract>.
3 "Indocin." Physicians' Desk Reference. 2011. Accessed 5 July 2012. <http://www.pdrhealth.com/drugs/indocin>.