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Are Migraines and Sex Really Connected?

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Aug 29, 2014 7:00:00 AM

ctress Tori Spelling is one of America's best-known migraine patients. Her penchant for appearing on reality television shows has made her a household names in many living rooms, and her migraine condition recently got a starring role in the Lifetime series “True Tori.”

Are_Migraines_and_Sex_Really_ConnectedTV viewers who have followed Spelling on previous reality shows find themselves very attracted to True Tori due to the show's documentary feel. While the cameras were rolling in one episode, Spelling became confused and succumbed to abdominal pain as she was getting ready to go to counseling for her tumultuous romantic life. She was rushed to the hospital, where it was determined that she had just experienced a really bad migraine episode.

Spelling spent more than a week at the hospital due to emotional stress while her husband looked after their children. The married couple returned to counseling after Spelling was released from the hospital, and then they started to discuss their sex life.

Migraines and Sex

In an interesting twist, Spelling seems to be attracted to her husband and satisfied with their sex life; however, she cannot understand why her husband is unfaithful. Migraine patients following True Tori were divided in their opinions about Spelling's satisfaction with her sex life and her previous headache episode. On one hand, sex can stir up emotions and provoke chemical reactions that can trigger migraine attacks; on the other hand, a recent medical research study in Germany revealed that 66 percent of patients are relieved from their headaches after sexual activity.

The physiological release of endorphins during sexual activity can produce an analgesic effect. This presents a similar situation to marathon runners who “hit the wall” and stop feeling pain or extreme exhaustion.

In popular culture, headaches are often used as excuses for staving off sex, but this may not be entirely rational. The release of endorphins and serotonin is actually curative and will likely alleviate the pain caused by headaches; nonetheless, this is not the case for migraine patients.

Sex can be a migraine trigger for many patients, and it is easy to understand why: The changes in brain chemistry during sexual activity can excite certain nerve endings that produce headaches. This is similar to what happens after some patients engage in heavy exercise.

Facts about Migraine and Sexual Activity

  • Men are more likely to get post-coital migraines if they “take the lead” during sex.
  • When migraines strike during or after sex, the pain is more likely to be occipital.
  • Pain from coital migraines is almost always bilateral.
  • Sexual arousal is more likely to bring an aura than a headache.

Stress and emotional well-being are more important factors when determining the enjoyment of sex life. In the case of Tori Spelling, sex may not have triggered her migraine, but the stress of the turbulent relationship with her husband may have caused her massive headache and prompted her hospital stay.

*Image courtesy of

migraine diary

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Topics: Causes

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