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4 Strange Post Sex Symptoms and How to Handle Them

Most of the time, having sex is a feel-good activity. Sure, there are potential worrisome aftereffects, like a sexually transmitted infection or an unwanted pregnancy. But other lesser-known health hassles can also pop up once the fun is done.

Some of these after-sex health issues are rare conditions such as transient global amnesia, or temporary memory loss and confusion, according to research — a condition that Mayo Clinic says warrants medical attention to rule out something more serious. Other issues include more minor problems, such as tense or sore legs, according to Planned Parenthood, which can be relieved with some simple stretches or will get better on their own.

Here are four other surprising yet fairly common after-sex health problems, with expert advice on how to handle them.

1. Headaches There’s a joke in here somewhere about sex and headaches, but they actually can be triggered during and after you’ve had intercourse. Headaches, ranging from tension-type to migraine, can occur during sexual intercourse or orgasm. There are two ways this can happen, according to the National Headache Foundation: If your body gets tense and excited during intercourse, you can experience muscle contractions in the head and neck that can lead to a throbbing noggin. You could also get an intense headache right before climaxing, possibly in response to a rapid increase in blood pressure and heart rate.

How You Might Experience Sex-Related Head Pain For most people, sex-related headaches, as described by the American Migraine Foundation, are a temporary form of discomfort that may never happen again. For others, “headaches often recur during sexual encounters for a brief period of time, whereas others experience them at infrequent intervals throughout their lifetime,” says Brian Grosberg, MD, director of the Hartford Healthcare Ayer Neuroscience Institute Headache Center and a professor of neurology at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington.

What to Do When Sex-Related Headaches Happen If you feel a headache coming on during sex, “stopping the sexual activity or assuming a more passive role can lessen [its] severity,” says Dr. Grosberg. Or, you can treat it with an anti-inflammatory pain reliever or a migraine-specific treatment if you have migraine. If these headaches are a regular occurrence, get them checked out by a healthcare professional.

2. Asthma Flare-Ups If you have asthma that is not well controlled, sexual intercourse could trigger an asthma flare-up just like exercise can. Sex is physical activity that can be similar in intensity to brisk walking, explains Sandra Gawchik, DO, co-director of Asthma and Allergy Associates in Chester, Pennsylvania. “During intercourse, symptoms such as chest tightness, trouble breathing, coughing, or wheezing can come out of the blue.”

A small study published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research found that severe asthma can have a significant impact on physical and emotional intimacy in sexual relationships. An overwhelming feeling of exhaustion that many people living with asthma experience, as well as anxiety that having an orgasm could induce severe bronchospasms and an asthma attack, contributed to this effect on relationships.

How to Avoid Sex-Related Asthma Episodes To prevent an asthma flare-up from happening during or after sex, make sure your asthma is controlled with medication that works for you, and take steps to reduce anxiety through biofeedback or mindfulness training, Dr. Gawchik says. “If you don’t treat the anxiety, you’re already set up to have a problem.”

Using an adrenergic bronchodilator inhaler such as albuterol before intercourse may be helpful, and changing up your sexual positions may make a difference, too. “Being on the bottom can be problematic because you’ll have pressure on your chest; try being on top or on your side,” Gawchik suggests. If being on top seems more physically demanding, however, potentially triggering bronchospasm, it might not be the best option for you. Take some time to see what is most comfortable for you. And if you haven’t been diagnosed with asthma but you have difficulty breathing after orgasm or during sex, go to the ER.

3. Sorrow, Sadness, or Mood Swings If you’ve ever felt weepy or anxious after having sex, you may be experiencing what’s known as postcoital dysphoria, aka the post-sex blues, per the International Society for Sexual Medicine. It’s a surprisingly common phenomenon: In research published in the journal Sexual Medicine, investigators looked at 230 women and found that 46 percent had experienced postcoital dysphoria at some point, and 5 percent had it frequently.

“Post-sex sadness, anxiety, or agitation can feel confusing and uncomfortable, especially for those who are used to experiencing pleasure and closeness with their partners following sexual activity,” notes Elizabeth A. Grill, PsyD, an associate professor of psychology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City.

How to Handle Sex-Related Mood Swings The happy news here is that these episodes are typically short-lived. You can take steps to ease your emotional discomfort by engaging in soothing deep breathing techniques, listening to music, or talking to your partner about your feelings — assuming you have a healthy line of communication with your bedmate.

If you do discuss how you’re feeling, use statements that begin with “I” (“I felt sad when we didn’t cuddle after sex”). You should also ask for what you need (“I don’t need you to cheer me up; I want you to listen or give me a hug”), Dr. Grill advises. If feelings of post-sex dysphoria persist or recur often, it’s a good idea to talk to a counselor or therapist about why it might be happening — and what you can do to help manage your post-sex moodiness.

4. Honeymoon Cystitis (Urinary Tract Infections) If you’ve had sex several times in a night (or day, why not?) and then felt burning or pain when you urinate, an urgent need to pee, or saw pink-tinged urine, you may have a case of honeymoon cystitis — even if you weren’t on a romantic beach getaway.

This type of urinary tract infection stems from repeated sexual interludes, which can cause irritation of the vagina, including microscopic tears in the skin around the vagina and urethra, or inflammation of the lining of the bladder, explains Jill Maura Rabin, MD, vice chair of education and development in obstetrics and gynecology with North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Center in Manhasset, New York, and coauthor of Mind Over Bladder.

These tiny breaks in the skin allow bacteria to enter the bladder, especially if you don’t flush it out by peeing right after intercourse. Similarly — although this should be avoided because it increases risk of infection — if you have anal sex and then switch to vaginal sexual activity without changing the condom or cleaning the penis, bacteria can also make their way into the bladder, Dr. Rabin adds.

How to Handle Honeymoon Cystitis You and your partner don’t need to be horny teenagers to have post-sex UTI problems: Research published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that sexual intercourse increases the risk of urinary tract infections in postmenopausal women, too.

If you develop a fever, body aches, and chills along with vaginal discomfort, you should see a healthcare professional right away to treat what is most likely an infection. If you suspect your urinary tract is irritated rather than infected, try an over-the-counter treatment such as Uristat or Azo to help relieve the bladder spasms and pain, advises Rabin. Staying well hydrated can also help flush out bacteria to get you feeling better faster, and you should avoid intercourse until your symptoms go away


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