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Can an Orgasm Leave You Paralyzed? What You Need to Know About Sex Headaches

Post-sex headaches affect about one in 100 people. In one woman's case, a post-coital headache was a sign of something more serious.

Lucinda Allen was six months pregnant when she experienced a sharp pain in her head following an orgasm. At the time, she wasn’t worried. She told The Sun she often endured pain similar to that of “brain-freeze” following an orgasm, though it never lasted long.

This time, though, the pain didn’t go away. Instead, it became so intense that Allen was left “writing on the bed in agony.” Eventually, she realized the pain wasn’t going to go away and called an ambulance. On the way to the hospital, she lost the ability to speak. She recalls thinking that she might be experiencing a brain hemorrhage. After that, she recalls, “it was a blur.”

Allen, who was 33 at the time, was put into an induced coma. Surgeons conducted a craniotomy to relieve the pressure in her brain, while an emergency obstetrics team remained on standby. Fortunately, her baby was healthy. The doctors learned that Allen had suffered a massive stroke, followed by four minor strokes.

When Lucinda emerged from the coma, she was paralyzed on the left side of her body. After three months, which she spent recovering in the hospital, her daughter was delivered via a C-section.

Today, Allen is wheelchair-bound, though her four-year-old daughter is healthy. She’s sharing her experience as a warning that post-sex headaches could be a sign of something more serious.

Also known as coital cephalgia, “sex headaches” affect at least 1 percent of the population. Though most of these headaches are benign, in rare cases they can be a sign of an aneurysm, brain hemorrhage, brain tumor, spinal disease, or stroke.

When sex triggers a neurological event, doctors say it’s usually related to an underlying condition as opposed to the sex itself. Sex can cause your heart rate to spike, leading to increased blood flow to the brain. In otherwise healthy individuals, this isn’t a problem. But for people with a weak artery wall or a blood vessel blockage, it could trigger a stroke. Mild to moderate exercise has similar effects.

Sex headaches are a well-documented phenomenon, but they rarely cause hemorrhaging. Though Allen’s case was exceptional, she believes it’s important to know that it’s possible. Today, she considers herself “lucky” to be alive.

If you experience sex headaches, you should make an appointment with your doctor.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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