Sex Migraine Is For Real: Loyola Neurologist

Migraine Sex

Migraines & Headaches After Sex (HAS) More Common Than Reported (1)

‘Not tonight honey, I have a headache’ may not be an excuse in avoidance after all,  because for some, especially men, migraines and headaches develop after sexual intercourse, making them avoid it. It is estimated that only as many as 1% of migraning adults actually report experiencing migraines or severe headaches after they have had sex. (2) The real percentage is considered much higher but generally goes under-reported since there is a feeling of discomfort talking about it on the part of the patients who suffer this type of a migraine and doctors who should be asking if the patients suffer this type of an ordeal.

According to Dr. Jose Biller who is the chair of Loyola’s Department of Neurology, and is certified in Headache Medicine by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties, “Many people who experience headaches during sexual activity are too embarrassed to tell their physicians, and doctors often don’t ask. 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.” (3)

Though a fair percentage of headaches associated with sex (HAS) are considered benign and not life-threatening, others need running neurological diagnostics to look at and rule out dangerous causes such as brain aneurysm, stroke, cervical artery dissection or subdural hematoma etc. It is confirmed that HAS are 3-4 times more likely to occur in men than women.

Basically, the study has identified 3 types of HAS:

Type

Area Intensity Timing

1

Head and Neck Dull

Before Orgasm

2

Back of the head Intense Pain lasting hours

During Orgasm

3

Half Head, Any side Mild To Extreme Pain

After Sex

The cause for the third type of HAS has been identified as internal leaking of spinal fluid extending from lower portions of the skull to lower spine. The pain worsens when a person stands as the brain sags down. Relief is felt when the person lies down.

The different types of HAS require different types of treatment and management. However, the best bet still is on exercising regularly, keeping weight under control, not consuming too much alcohol and reducing exposure to known migraine triggers.

SOURCES

  1. Image Credit: Couple Lying In Bed Back-to-Back Stock Photo; Image by Ambro; Free Digital Photos; Web June 2014; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/CouplesPartners_g216-Couple_Lying_In_Bed_BacktoBack_p76440.html
  2. Headaches during sex likely more common than reported; Science Daily News; Web June 2014; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140610100303.htm
  3. Sex headaches: More common than you’d think; Loyola Medicine Publication; Web June 2014; http://loyolamedicine.org/newswire/news/sex-headaches-more-common-youd-think

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Trying Magnesium

About 2 years back, I stumbled upon magnesium’s big role in regulating calcium ion inflow to neuron cells, channelopathy in migraineurs and of course its spiral effect on the all important serotonin and eventually prostaglandin and a whole gamut of things that go on for a migraineur. By the way, migraineurs are generally defecient in magnesium. Run a blood test and find out if you are in this bracket.

In desperation, I calculated the approximate amount of magnesium I was getting from my diet and it was apallingly low! (Incidentally, magnesium absorption is also inhibited by the caffeine and alcohol intake). I started out on magnesium-calcium supplements for a month that gave me RDA values on both (esp magnesium at 400 mg a day). OK, now get this. I had an episode of migraine the following month but it was so much milder than usual. It arrived one day before I was to head out to London. My work didnt have to stop on the day I was travelling out to London. This was a big deal for me, as will be, I am sure, for many, many migraineurs. I would not have been able to do this without the supplements. Ever since, I have made magnesium a part of diet. I do go off it now and then by choice but I usually do take them and benefit from it immensely.

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