Migraine made bigger than usual headlines recently after a study indicating that sex may be helpful in relieving migraine pain appeared in the journal Cephalalgia. While some of the headlines were clearly meant to grab attention, the science behind the study and its findings may prove valuable for many migraineurs. While most individuals with migraine and cluster headache do not engage in sexual activity during a headache attack, the findings suggest that sexual activity, orgasm in particular, can provide partial or complete relief of headache pain in some migraine and a few cluster headache patients.

By Katherine Margo, M.D. Director of Student Programs, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania THE CASE Mario is a 40-year-old man who has had migraines off and on since he was a teenager. He is able to keep them under control with occasional use of headache-specific medication or ibuprofen. He is in a new relationship, however, and has started having severe headaches all over his head as soon as he achieves a climax during sexual intercourse. This has happened several times and it’s quite distressing. He is worried that it might be something “really serious.” It is also interfering with his relationship in that his partner is reluctant to have intercourse for fear of triggering an attack.

By Katherine Margo, M.D. Director of Student Programs, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania THE CASE Mario is a 40-year-old man who has had migraines off and on since he was a teenager. He is able to keep them under control with occasional use of headache-specific medication or ibuprofen. He is in a new relationship, however, and has started having severe headaches all over his head as soon as he achieves a climax during sexual intercourse. This has happened several times and it’s quite distressing. He is worried that it might be something “really serious.” It is also interfering with his relationship in that his partner is reluctant to have intercourse for fear of triggering an attack.