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Can Sex Help Relieve That Headache?

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3 Min Read

Intensity and frequency of migraines are higher in women than in men. It is but natural for a nagging throbbing headache to kill your libido. The relief from headaches from sexual activity has mostly been attributed to the natural release of endorphins during sex. Endorphins are the brain’s natural painkillers and have a numbing effect on the migraine during and after sexual activity.

“Not tonight, honey, I have a headache!” This often-heard line of sitcom humor would have us believe that sex and headaches are a bad combination. Those who get severe and intense migraine headaches will vouch for the fact that it is not a pain they can just shoo away. Migraines can cause intense, throbbing pain with sensitivity to light and sound, and may be followed by nausea or vomiting. So what happens when you add sex to this mix?

Men Versus Women

Studies on migraine incidence and gender show that women are significantly more prone to migraines and chronic headaches. It is twice as more common and the experience more painful and frequent in women than in men.1 This could be due to effects of female hormones, genetic factors, and the various stages in the woman’s reproductive life – puberty, menopausal, post-menopausal, etc.

So can sex help relieve this pain? Should women especially be embracing sexual activity when struggling with a migraine?

Sex And The Headache

New research suggests that there is hope for men and women alike! Sex may actually help relieve the pain of a migraine. In an observational study among sufferers of migraines and cluster headaches, participants were asked them to share their experience on the impact of sex during such a headache. Many participants reported avoiding sexual activity during headaches, but the data also showed that in some, sex led to partial or complete relief from the headache. About one-third experienced relief from a migraine attack after sexual activity.2

How Does It Work?

This relief from headaches has mostly been attributed to the natural release of endorphins during sex. Endorphins are the brain’s natural painkillers and may be numbing the migraine during and immediately after sexual activity. Those who suffer from migraines and chronic headaches are found to have low levels of beta-endorphin to begin with. When the endorphin level rises in a person with migraine, there is definitely an increase in the relief level. Researchers studied this by measuring the beta-endorphin levels after simulating an increase in endorphins using transcranial magnetic simulation. After about a week of such simulation, the migraine frequency and intensity were seen to be significantly reduced.3

The Verdict

So it turns out that if you are down and out with a terrible headache, sexual activity may just help lift your mood and make you feel better. As research points out, even the triggers for migraine are largely stress (62%), weather (43%), hunger (40%), and bright light (38%). Only 5% of patients in a study felt that sex was itself the trigger for the migraine.4

The next time you have a headache, you know what you need to do!

References   [ + ]

1.Finocchi, Cinzia, and Laura Strada. “Sex-related differences in migraine.” Neurological Sciences 35, no. 1 (2014): 207-213.
2.Hambach, Anke, Stefan Evers, Oliver Summ, Ingo W. Husstedt, and Achim Frese. “The impact of sexual activity on idiopathic headaches: An observational study.” Cephalalgia 33, no. 6 (2013): 384-389.
3.Misra, Usha K., Jayantee Kalita, Gyanesh M. Tripathi, and Sanjeev K. Bhoi. “Is β endorphin related to migraine headache and its relief?.” Cephalalgia 33, no. 5 (2013): 316-322.
4.Robbins, Lawrence. “Precipitating factors in migraine: a retrospective review of 494 patients.” Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 34, no. 4 (1994): 214-216.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

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