Sex and Migraine Relief
Last updated: March 2021
Many individuals assume there is only a negative correlation between migraines and sex. Like many other possible treatments, it depends on the individual. While some individuals do suffer from headaches after sex and others avoid sex altogether during a migraine, there is a group of people who find migraine relief from having an orgasm. This relief is effective enough that intimate self-care, i.e. masturbation, can be recommended for a migraine relief option.
Does sexual activity trigger your migraines?
Actual pain relief
While many individuals may think the idea of having sex during a migraine attack is unthinkable, not everyone is the same. A research study found that about one-third of patients with migraines experienced relief from a migraine attack by having sexual activity.1
Researcher Stefan Evers stated that the “orgasm and the resulting rush of endorphins” during sex may act as the brain's natural painkillers.1 These natural painkillers are possibly what can turn off migraine pain. To some extent, it is a logical consideration since endorphins from exercising are known to act on opiate receptors.
Masturbation pain management
Additional researchers from Rutgers University in New Jersey wanted to rebuff the results of the study performed by Evers and his colleagues. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine to monitor women’s brains as they pleasured themselves and then were by a partner. The scans showed that the “orgasms engage an area of the brain called the dorsal raphe nucleus that releases serotonin.”2 While their research did not disprove Evers’ research, they were able to understand more than Evers’ concluded. Due to the analgesic effect from the serotonin release, explained why “a woman’s pain tolerance could increase by up to 75% during orgasm."2
Alexander Mauskop, a neurologist and director of the New York Headache Center, believes if an individual experiences migraine relief during sexual activity, "having an orgasm in any way shape or form will help."1 Obviously, this means that masturbation could possibly become a tool in somebody’s migraine toolbox.
For most of my adult life, I lived with chronic daily migraines. For me, this meant I had a migraine every single day and the only thing that changed was how bad the migraine was each day. Considering this, if I never explored having sex while having a migraine, I would have been celibate. This led me to want to try having sex despite having a migraine. Through trial and error, I was able to determine what positions would not aggravate my head further but would still get me the release I needed. Logically some migraines are bad enough that there is no way I would consider it, but other migraines were tolerable.
Is it worth a try?
If individuals are in the group who suffer from headaches after sex, they are likely already aware. In most cases, individuals who have migraines are not likely to consider participating in sexual activity during a migraine. For the individuals who do not know how an orgasm may affect their migraine, it could be beneficial to try when a migraine is not too bad. One could also consider trying the self-care option. An orgasm could turn out to be a beneficial treatment option, even if it only produces temporary relief.
Have others downplayed your migraine pain?