The claim that sex cures headaches is commonly quoted. For example, from 10 Reasons Sex is Good For You:

10. Sex Can Cure Headaches
A South Illinois School Of Medicine study on 52 migraine sufferers reported that 16 experienced considerable relief after an orgasm and another eight had their headaches completely gone. No reason now to say, "Not tonight honey, I'm having a headache."

Sex = endorphins = pain killers.
Does sex just act as pain killer and cure headache's symptoms: pain, or there is some other substance released that cures the causes?

  • Welcome to Skeptics! We want to focus our attention on doubtful claims that are widely held or are made by notable people. Please provide some references to places where this claim is being made.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 24, 2012 at 0:34
  • 5
    The claim that sex will cure a headache is common, and easily found on google. Although these results provide studies, too (the second one does, at least--which I added to the question). So I'm still not convinced the question really belongs here :/
    – Flimzy
    Nov 24, 2012 at 4:01
  • 1
    This question would be good for Biology.SE
    – nico
    Nov 24, 2012 at 14:46
  • Yes... dopamine and other "happy" chemicals are released at... well... the peak of excitement... creating a "I feel much better now" thing
    – user16155
    Nov 11, 2013 at 23:11
  • Requesting a volunteer to help me test this first hand. 0:-)
    – Arkady
    Nov 15, 2013 at 15:24

1 Answer 1


It's reported, but not conclusively demonstrated by experiment. Also, in some cases sex is known to cause migraine. I found absolutely no evidence for it being more than a temporary analgesic, let alone a cure.

Not tonight dear, I have a headache source

Primary sexual headache

This is a well known ailment which affects about 1% of the population. There are three main kinds:

  • Early coital cephalgia, which is usually of short duration and moderately severe. It is a tight, cramping, dull pain, often occurring bilaterally in the occipital/cervical region, which intensifies as sexual excitement increases. […]

  • Orgasmic coital cephalgia, which is severe, of abrupt onset and lasts 15 to 20 minutes. It can be in the occipital region, behind the eyes, or in a more generalised form and occurs at the point of orgasm. […]

  • Late coital cephalgia, comes on after standing and may last for hours or days. […]


Effect on existing headaches

The best study I could find — and the most cited article in recent popular press — was published this March 2013 in the journal “Cephalalgia”: "The impact of sexual activity on idiopathic headaches: An observational study"

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.

Honestly, I think this is a big stretch on their side as the study is simply a scientific survey. It does not control for double blind, for example, and does not distinguish between real physiological effects and placebo.

Totally aside, but funny, here's a much less suspicious conclusion from the same study:

The majority of patients with migraine or cluster headache do not have sexual activity during headache attacks.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Jamiec
    Feb 10, 2016 at 19:31

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