Dr. Love Can Relieve Migraine and Cluster Pain for Some

Updated May 20, 2018

For most of us, the acute pain of a Migraine or Cluster headache would make the idea of lovemaking especially ridiculous. However, there have been a handful of studies looking at the connection between orgasm and pain relief – with good results. Is the Sex Headache Cure an urban legend or an effective therapy?

Whether intercourse will ease your migraine pain or trigger a headache really depends on you, and the circumstances. You may have heard, or uttered, the phrase “Not tonight, honey, I have a headache.” It’s easy to imagine the exertion and movement of sexual activity making things worse. However, an industrious few (mostly men) report using sex or masturbation as a “therapeutic tool” for Migraine pain in a German study. And a second study backs up the Sex Headache Cure by using fMRI to observe increased pain tolerance during sex. 1. So, the next time you feel a migraine coming on, sex just might be your best weapon.

How Sex Helps a Migraine

In a small study out of Rutgers University in New Jersey, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to demystify the relationship between sex and pain relief. By examining women’s brains during orgasm, researchers were able to show that orgasms engage an area of the brain that releases serotonin, a powerful painkiller. 2.

Serotonin is an opiate-like chemical associated with a happy, positive feeling and reduced feelings of pain. Unlike pain medications, which can take up to 15 minutes to work their magic, these chemicals work instantly, shutting down a migraine before it has a chance to take hold. According to researchers at Rutgers, a woman’s pain tolerance can increase by up to 75% during an orgasm – showing that serotonin is a really powerful analgesic.

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Any sex, especially with an orgasm, releases certain chemicals in the brain that work to alleviate a migraine. Interestingly, researchers examined orgasms achieved by self-stimulation and those achieved with help, and they found that the pain-relieving results were the same. So, self-love is as powerful as intercourse when it comes to relieving Migraine pain.

How Sex Triggers a Migraine

Like exercise, sex is a physical activity, however, which for some people can trigger an attack. Sex can actually cause a headache by increasing blood pressure and causing a dilation of the cerebral blood vessels. Any time you’re exerting yourself or putting pressure on the back, head or neck, you can provoke a migraine attack. Dehydration, sleep deprivation and strong emotions, like crying, can further elevate the risk for a migraine.

Columbia’s Dr. Green adds, “Headaches during sex are most often seen in people with migraines because these people have a genetic predisposition to develop headaches already.” According to Dr. Green, sex can cause three different types of headaches, which can all lead to migraines: an explosive headache, a tension headache, and a positional headache 3.

The most common type of headache triggered by sex is the explosive headache, which occurs at the point of orgasm; it can actually have similar symptoms to those of a brain hemorrhage. Dr. Mark W. Green, director of Headache Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, suggests that anyone who experiences this type of headache for the first time seek a medical professional immediately after the incident to rule out a hemorrhage, or other brain injury, as the cause of the headache.

A tension headache — usually caused by stress, including tension that is brought on by the act of sex — feels more constrictive and usually goes away within 20 minutes.

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Will Sex Make My Headache Better or Worse?

You’ll have to do your own, ahem, research to answer that for certain.

Meanwhile, German researchers with the University of Munster conducted a survey asking 800 migraine patients and 200 cluster headache patients, randomly selected with the promise of anonymity. They asked whether they had tried any sexual activity during a headache attack, and whether it had a positive or negative effect 4

 

Migraine Cluster Headache Sex Study

As the results show, 60% of those who attempted sexual activity during a Migraine found pain relief. Those with cluster headaches, however, did not fare quite as well, with about half reporting that sex actually made the pain worse, while a third report it made the pain better.

The majority of people with severe pain from a Migraine attack or cluster headache don’t attempt sex during an attack, but those who do have some research behind their Sex Headache Cure. Research indicates a complete or partial relief from attacks is possible, thanks to large dose of sex-induced serotonin, one of our brain’s most powerful natural painkillers.

Comments? Have you tried the Sex Headache Cure? How did it work out for you?

Image: Unsplash

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