Unfortunately, migraines aren't just about head pain, they can cause problems in other areas of our lives. One primary example is in the area of intimacy. Researchers have repeatedly studied the effects of headaches on sexual relationships between couples. The scientific literature's findings and advice from professional counselors can guide us in better understanding what to expect and how to respond.
In one study, Dr. Timothy Houle, a headache researcher from Wake Forest University, looked at the libidos of patients suffering from migraines. In both men and women, the findings reveal, those who get migraines think more about sex than those who do not. However, another study found that the non-headache population has higher sex drives and less incidences of pain related to sex.
Migraine pain can be complicated and doesn't affect every person in the same way. The personal nature of migraines is indicated by their relationship to orgasm. Some of the research on headaches has found that the release of orgasm in turn alleviates migraine pain. However, orgasm has been shown in other studies to be a contributing factor to headaches. Women specifically, whether they are migraine sufferers or not, can sometimes experience headaches after sex.
Psychiatrist Barbara Cunningham, a marriage counselor in California, recommends those suffering migraines create an "emotional bank account" for their sexual partner. That way, if a headache does arise during or immediately following sex, the partner will feel less of a sense that the pain is their fault or that they are unloved.
In contrast, Cunningham says, when couples are prone to disagreements and conflict, migraine pain can tip the balance and make a relationship fall apart. Any type of relaxation methods can be of help to the non-migraine partner. Counseling for the couple can also help repair any damage that is being caused by the headaches.
Another counselor in California, Rodney Shapiro, recommends sharing the experience as much as possible. One easy way to do that is discussion, but going along for a doctor's visit can also help the non-sufferer better grasp the experience. Shapiro also advises staying away from alcohol and any foods that might be giving rise to the migraines.
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WebMD: Migraines and Sex