Friday, March 23, 2012

Sex: Trigger or Treatment

Yesterday, I wrote about Primary Headaches & Sex. Without revealing too much of my personal life / relationship with my husband, I'd like to talk a bit more about the topic.

Each relationship is different, just as each person's experience of pain is different. So, you have to work together and find what works for both you and your partner.


In women with primary headache conditions, sexual intercourse has been known to
Both to ease migraine pain and to trigger a headache, but its effect depends on the person and the circumstances... There are two schools of thought on this topic: One holds that sex, especially an orgasm, releases certain chemicals in the brain that work to alleviate a migraine; the other holds that sex can actually cause a headache by increasing blood pressure and causing a dilation of the cerebral blood vessels. You'll have to do your own experimenting to find out whether sex has any effect on your migraines (Sex: A Cure for Migraine or a Potential Trigger?).
This is interesting to me, but it's just like anything else... it could trigger a migraine in some, or alleviate a migraine to another... or even differ with the same person, since triggers are cumulative.

People love to give advice on how their second-cousin's-mother's-friend did such-and-such to get rid of his/her migraines... one of these treatments (or "cures") is having sex - I've had several people make this claim. I'm guessing that these people have never experienced a migraine before. I start getting symptoms long before I feel the head pain, so trying to have sex in an attempt to prevent or alleviate a migraine can be difficult. Not to mention, migraine symptoms don't make you feel very sexy, and your body may be too sensitive to even hug your significant other... much less do anything more.

Perhaps trying to have sex earlier in the migraine cycle might help - but you don't always know when one is coming (especially if you have chronic migraines), and it may be like other treatments for migraine pain that give some temporary relief and then the pain worsens again quickly... did it really help? But, I have to say that I wish that having sex could prevent and/or alleviate migraines!

I'm not a doctor or therapist, but there are some things that stand out to me as important for relationships (these apply to those with and without chronic pain).


Living with chronic pain has many challenges. One of the most pervasive is not knowing - for example, not knowing when each flare of pain will come or go. Without knowing when the pain will come and go (or increase and decrease), it can be difficult to commit to a date night or other planned relationship time.

People living with chronic pain may experience a significant decrease in stamina, ultra-sensitivity (where one's body hurts with even the slightest touch), etc. These are challenges that the person in pain and his/her partner need to try to work around... finding a balance that meets the needs of each individual, as well as your relationship with one another.

To complicate things a bit more, migraines may be linked to depression. Depression and/or anti-depressants can lower one's sex drive. There are a lot of medications used to treat people with chronic pain that can decrease one's sex drive.


The most important thing to remember is that it's vitally important to keep the lines of communication open. Be honest with one another about what you want and need, and what you're able to contribute - if you, your significant other, or both of you suffers from chronic pain, it's even more important. Without being obsessive about it, have an open and ongoing dialog about your relationship, including your sex life.


It's important to find ways for each of you to express your love to the other. Work with your partner to find a compromise between what you and he/she wants, needs, and are able to do. Example:  if one partner wants to have sex daily, but the other partner is only able to participate once a week... a compromise may be to have intercourse once a week, and participate in other intimate activities together throughout the week.


It's important to be creative in finding ways to express your love to one another, especially when faced with the challenges of chronic pain. Showing each other how important they are to you can be done in many ways other than intercourse. Here are just some ideas (other than sex) to be intimate with your significant other:
  • Hold hands
  • Kiss
  • Hug (we make sure that we hug at least once a day)
  • Sit together without any technology (no phones, TV, computer) and just talk/listen to one another (give your significant other your undivided attention, even if only for a few minutes)
  • Massage
  • Laugh together
  • Play games with each other
  • Take a bath or shower together
  • Snuggle together on the couch
  • Cook together
  • Go shopping together (we enjoy going grocery shopping together because we also enjoy cooking together)
  • Watch TV or a movie together
  • Compliment each other
  • Write love notes
  • Listen to each other share about your day
  • Forgive each other quickly
  • Whisper to each other
  • Go to a play/musical together
  • Go for a walk together
  • Go out to eat together
  • Dance with each other
  • And the list goes on...
Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog is intended as medical or legal advice.

What I write on this site is my own, and if it is someone else's, I take special care to attribute it to the original author. So, please don't use any of my material without proper attribution or permission. Thanks.