Headache Doctors Say Sex Can Both Cause and Cure Headaches

ABC News Medical Unit

Feb 6, ABC News

Popular culture always sends us mixed messages about sex. First there was the old cliche of "not tonight dear, I have a headache," implying sex makes pain worse.

Then Marvin Gaye turned the tables on the sex-pain connection with his 1982 song "Sexual Healing."

So, who is accurate — Gaye or the tired spouse? Does sex make or break a headache? Well both, say headache researchers, depending on the person and the headache.

Much of sex's influence on a headache remains shrouded in mystery, but doctors know a little and are discovering more.

A Discovery

In 1988, a forthright woman in a headache treatment study inspired an Oklahoma doctor to question the sexual healing of migraines.

"This lady said 'I really don't need a pill, I need a guy's phone number," said James Couch, a neurology professor at Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. The patient told Couch she had trouble curing her headaches since her husband had divorced her and she'd signed up for a pain treatment study.

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