At some point, most adults in a loving relationship have heard the words, "not tonight, I have a headache" in response to sexual advances. Now it seems that sex may be just what the doctor ordered when one is suffering from pain due to certain types of headache.

Published in Cephalalgia, the Journal of the International Headache Society, a study out of Germany at the University of Munster has found that sexual intercourse may be more effective than painkillers for some migraine headaches.

Typically, individuals who suffer from migraines experience throbbing pain that affects one or both sides of the head. Pain is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite, and bright light or loud noises can worsen the headache. This explains why migraine sufferers often gravitate to a cool, dark place when experiencing an attack. As migraines can last from up to 12 hours, they can be very debilitating for sufferers.
The research, conducted by a team of neurologists, found that sex led to "partial or complete relief" of migraine headache pain in more than half of those studied. These results have been attributed to the release of endorphins, which are natural pain killers manufactured by the body. The team surveyed roughly 1,000 sufferers of migraine and cluster headaches and found that some males who regularly suffer from migraines purposefully engage in sex as a treatment for migraine.

The research team pointed out that "the majority of patients with migraine or cluster headache do not have sexual activity during headache attacks," but went on to confirm that "sexual activity can lead to partial or complete relief of headache in some migraine and a few cluster headache patients" according to the survey data.
Specifically one in three migraine sufferers acknowledged having sex during an episode. Sixty percent of these reported improvement. For those who suffer from cluster headaches, 31 percent acknowledged having sex during an episode, and 37 percent of these subjects reported improvement.

In addition to preventing or relieving headache pain, regular sexual activity can bring other benefits to emotional and physical health.

  • The Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco has concluded that people who are sexually active take fewer sick days, are more sociable and have more zest for life than people who are not sexually active, according to an ongoing study of 90,000 American adults.
  • The same study has found that individuals who report a fulfilling sex life are less anxious, hostile and violent than people who do not.
  • Sex burns at least 4.2 calories per minute, according to an estimate given by Dr. Alfred Franger, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
  • Sex can help regulate hormones. According to Dr. Winnifred Cutler, Director of the Athena Institute for Women's Wellness in Pennsylvania, women who have intercourse at least once a week have more regular menstrual cycles than women who are celibate or who rarely have sex.