Case Report| Volume 17, ISSUE 10, P1349-1351, October 2010

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Isolated thunderclap headache during sex: Orgasmic headache or reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome?


      Orgasmic headache (OH) is an “explosive” headache that occurs at orgasm. Historically, it was considered benign with no treatment needed. Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS) refers to a group of disorders characterized by recurrent thunderclap headache (TCH) and multifocal vasoconstriction. Patients who have RCVS often recover completely, but some may have persistent neurological deficits. We report a 34-year-old woman who presented with isolated and recurrent TCH at orgasm, which fulfilled the diagnosis of OH. However, she was post-partum and had recent exposure to ecstasy, making her symptoms highly suggestive of RCVS. Brain magnetic resonance angiography showed segmental vasoconstriction. We concluded that she could be considered to have either OH or RCVS. This patient suggests the theory that OH could be a presentation of RCVS. Given that RCVS is potentially treatable, early recognition by clinicians is vital in order to prevent devastating complications.


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