What is a migraine? Why migraine happens. Who gets migraines? Treating migraines.

The Link Between Sexual Desire and Migraines

In 2006 Fox News had the eye-catching headline "Migraine Sufferers Have Stronger Sexual Desire." The conclusion was reached by Timothy T. Houle, PhD, a Wake Forest University researcher. According to his study, migraine sufferers wanted more sex than people who had normal tension headaches. But they also tended to be more susceptible to being depressed and suffering sleep abnormalities.

The study involved 37 women and 31 men, all of whom were fairly young since the average age was 24. Each of the participants said they suffered from headaches, but careful examination showed that only 23 suffered from migraines. The remainder had only tension headaches.

How the Test Was Conducted

Houle and his colleagues had each participant (90 percent of who were unmarried) fill out a standardized questionnaire evaluating their sexual desire. Each participant rated their level of sexual desire as being more or less than the average person. Migraine sufferers generally rated themselves as more sexual by about 20 percent.

Sex as a New Migraine Treatment?

James R. Couch, MD, PhD of the neurology department at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center was inspired by Houle's research and wondered about the link between migraines and sex. After conducting some of his own research, which became known by his peers as "the Couch treatment," Couch discovered that many people's migraine symptoms disappeared after an orgasm. But only in a small percentage of his 82-woman group of participants. About 20 percent of his trial subjects experienced migraine relief after orgasm. In a few of his test subject, migraines were triggered by an orgasm.  It should be note that Dr. Couch did not cause the orgasms in his test subjects and that his research was published in the June 2006 issue of the medical journal Headache.

Reasons Why

Levels of serotonin are thought to be the reason why migraine sufferers report higher sex drives and why an orgasm can relieve migraine pain in many of the sufferers. Lower levels of the brain chemical called serotonin tend to be connected with high sex drive and individuals who have migraines usually have low serotonin levels.

There are different explanations for why orgasms relieve migraine pain in women. They're theories since no one knows for sure. The first theory is that sex stimulates the vagina and special nervous system pathways that are also involved in helping women manage the pain of childbirth. The second theory is that orgasms release special chemicals that suppress or interrupt the chemicals that cause migraine pain.