We already know some of the health benefits of sex: the NHS points out that it’s good for your heart, eases stress and tension, lowers blood pressure, helps fend off illness AND reduces risk of angina and ulcers, which is a pretty impressive list when you think about it.
Anyway, it looks like sex has yet another health benefit: curing headaches.
Whether sex caused or exacerbated headaches or made them better has long been subject to debate – partly because “I have a headache” has been a perennial ‘getting out of sex’ excuse. But, according to numerous scientists and researchers, it could actually improve your headaches, not make them worse.
“It could be masturbation, it could be oral sex, it could be intercourse—as long as there’s an orgasm the body is going to release certain chemicals,” doctor Jennifer Wider told the Daily Dot.
And neurologist Hamid Sami told the Dot that two of the most common headaches – tension headaches and migraines – can be relieved by sex. Pain relief can last “between a few hours and a few days”, largely because of both “an orgasm’s relaxing properties” and “homegrown pain relievers” including endorphins and oxytocin.
A 2013 study in medical journal Cephalagia found similar evidence, observing that sex was able to relieve many of the symptoms of both migraines and cluster headaches for a third of patients.
“There’s a [portion] of patients with migraines, about one-third, who experience relief from a migraine attack by sexual activity,” said study researcher Stefan Evers at the time. “The same people who release endorphins from extreme sports activity, so a triathlon or marathon, it might be that these are the patients who release endorphins during sexual activity”.
Singletons don’t need to despair, either. The headache-curing properties don’t always come from sex per se: any orgasm will do.
Evers pointed out that the rush of endorphins from sexual intercourse can also be achieved through masturbation – so even if you’re single, you can benefit.
“It could be masturbation, it could be oral sex, it could be intercourse—as long as there’s an orgasm the body is going to release certain chemicals”
It’s not all good news though, Wider says. If you’re unlucky enough to get cluster headaches, sex is likely to make them worse – and sex can actually induce headaches in others.
“Every person has a different reason why they have a headache, what their triggers are, and what’s going to be a successful treatment for them,” she said. “It’s not a one size fits all, and that’s why it’s confusing.”
So next time you feel a headache coming on? Don’t reach for the paracetamol – give sex a go. It’s worth a try.
(Images: Getty / Pablo Heimplatz )