A team of neurologists found that sexual activity can lead to “partial or complete relief” of head pain in some migraines.
The study, from the University of Munster, Germany, suggests that instead of using a sore head as an excuse to refuse sex, making love can be more effective than taking painkillers.
Their research, reported in Cephalalgia, the journal of the International Headache Society, found that more than half of migraine sufferers who had sex during an episode experienced an improvement in symptoms.
One in five patients left without any pain at all, while others, in particular male sufferers “even used sexual activity as a therapeutic tool”, they added.
They suggested that sex triggered the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, through the central nervous system, which can in turn reduce, or even eliminate, a headache.
“The majority of patients with migraine or cluster headache do not have sexual activity during headache attacks,” the study concluded.
“Our data suggest, however, that sexual activity can lead to partial or complete relief of headache in some migraine and a few cluster headache patients.
“Our results show that sexual activity during a migraine attack might relieve or even stop an attack in some cases, and that sexual activity in the presence of headache is not an unusual behavior.”
They added: “Sex can abort migraine and cluster headache attacks, and sexual activity is used by some patients as acute headache treatment.”
In their research, titled “The impact of sexual activity on idiopathic headaches: An observational study”, the team of neurologists investigated whether sex can trigger headaches.
They also wanted to establish whether there was any substance to anecdotal suggestions that it could actually ease symptoms of migraine and cluster, also known as one-sided, headaches.
An anonymous questionnaire was sent to 800 random migraine patients and 200 similar cluster headache sufferers.
They asked for experience with sexual activity during a headache attack and its impact on headache intensity.
More than a third of migraine patients had experience with sexual activity during an attack and out of these patients, almost two in three reported an “improvement of their migraine attack”.
Almost three in four reported moderate to complete relief and a third reported it worsening.
Those suffering a cluster headache, almost a third had experience with sexual activity, with 37 per cent reporting an improvement to their condition. More than 90 per cent reported moderate to complete relief while 50 reported worsening.
The researchers added: “Some patients, in particular male migraine patients, even used sexual activity as a therapeutic tool.”