Clinical features, imaging findings and outcomes of headache associated with sexual activity

Yen Chi Yeh, Jong Ling Fuh, Shih Pin Chen, Shuu Jiun Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Objectives: To study the clinical profiles, imaging findings and outcomes and field test the diagnostic criteria proposed by the International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd edition (ICHD-II) in patients with headache associated with sexual activity (HSA). Methods: We recruited 30 patients (16 men, 14 women, mean age at onset 40.2 ± 10.0 years) with headache associated with sexual activity at a headache clinic from 2004 to 2009. None of the patients had neurological deficits at onset. Results: Twenty patients (67%) had secondary causes, including one subarachnoid hemorrhage, one basilar artery dissection, and 18 cases reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS). Ten patients (33%) had primary HSA. The demographics, headache profiles, drug response and clinical course were similar between primary and secondary HSA. Compared to prior studies done in Western societies, our patients had similar clinical features but with a higher ratio of females (50%) and a higher frequency of chronic course (39%). Discussion: Sixty-seven percent of patients with RCVS could not fulfill the criteria of reversible angiopathy of the central nervous system (Code 6.7.3) proposed by the ICHD-II. The most common reason was headache resolution in more than two months. In addition, 40% of patients with primary HSA could not fulfill the ICHD-II criteria for primary HSA (Code 4.4). Conclusions: Our study found that intracranial vascular disorders were very common in patients with HSA. Thorough neurovascular imaging is required for all patients with HSA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329-1335
Number of pages7
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • orgasmic headache
  • reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome
  • sexual headache
  • thunderclap headache


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