How Does Migraine Affect Our Intimacy?
Last updated: October 2023
Migraine is an awful disease. It can steal so much of our lives because its reach impacts our bodies on many levels. Keeping that in mind, how do we fit the intimacy piece into our relationships?
What is intimacy?
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines intimacy as "the state of being intimate: Familiarity," "something of a personal or private nature." For my purposes, I consider intimacy a time of close, personal relationship that may or may not involve sexual and physical encounters. My wife and I share many intimate moments. We enjoy spending time together, cuddling, day trips, and lovemaking. Does migraine affect those times? Yes, and both of us suffer from them as well.1
How does migraine affect our intimacy level?
There are apparent obstacles to intimacy like pain, nausea, light and sound sensitivity, and scent sensitivity. I often experience exhaustion and fatigue, which provide additional challenges. A combination of any of these migraine symptoms can create barriers to intimacy. Life alone makes it difficult for most of us to get into a suitable headspace to engage in a time of closeness. When you add migraine and its symptoms, it makes things more challenging.
What impact has physical touch had?
I have found that times of intimacy and closeness help to reduce my stress levels, and I will often hug my wife for 30 seconds or more to calm ourselves if we are stressed. We have always enjoyed being connected; physical touch is a simple way to achieve this. Often, holding hands might be all we are capable of doing during an attack.
How do we find time for intimacy?
Finding ways to enjoy intimate times with migraine disease is a challenge. Over the years, we have used many tactics to carve out time for ourselves. As cold as it sounds, scheduling time for intimate encounters has been helpful. It allows us time to pause the busyness of the day to focus on only ourselves. We also try to live in the moment. Enjoying each other's company and making room for spontaneity is essential. Migraine will get in the way of these moments. It doesn't care about your schedule or the circumstances occurring in your life. It can be like a child having a meltdown! That has caused us to redefine how intimacy can fit into a life infested by migraine disease.
Is migraine triggered or relieved by orgasms?
Two main components of navigating a fulfilling sex life are building new paths to intimacy and defining what intimacy means to us. Many couples consider an intimate, physical part of their relationship vital. We are no different. Some studies show the benefits of having an orgasm can help some people lessen and even resolve migraine and cluster headaches. Orgasm, however, is a double-edged sword. It can help resolve the headache, but it can also trigger one.2
As a couple, we have seats in both of these camps. I have experienced an improvement as a result, whereas my wife had migraines triggered by orgasms. Thankfully, they resolve quickly. It is not a cause-and-effect process that we can reproduce at will.
How have we adjusted?
The challenges migraine disease creates for us ebb and flow with our triggers and stimuli. Having a relationship with a partner AND migraine is challenging. We have made so many adjustments to our lives because of migraine. Why wouldn't we also make adjustments to the physical aspects of our lives as well? We cherish each other and the times when we can have those intimate moments. We savor the small things, and that helps us stay close and connected. Holding hands, cuddling to watch a movie, going for walks, and even shopping trips are some ways we foster those intimate connections. It's not always about a raucous roll in the hay, but if we are in sync with that, roll away! We deserve to be happy and enjoy our lives. We may sometimes feel like prisoners, but the cell is not locked!
Let me know what you do to carve out ways to stay connected and close to your significant others.
In the past year, has insurance made it difficult to get your migraine treatment?