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Sex no cure for headaches – see doctor for help

Having sex relieves headaches,” begins a message posted on a Facebook page with 184,000 followers. “Every time you make love, it releases the tension in the veins of the brain.”  

The post makes several other claims about the health benefits of sex. It’s been shared over 26,000 times, attracting 19,000 reactions and 12,000 comments. 

But does sex really relieve headaches? Africa Check asked headache experts. 


No research to support claim

According to the Mayo Clinic,  a US non-profit medical centre, a headache can be caused by changes in sleep patterns, stress, certain foods and alcohol. It can also be caused by an underlying medical issue. 

Dr Elliot Shevel is a maxillofacial headache specialist at the Headache Clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa. He conducts research on migraine and tension headaches and is the head of the South African Headache Society. 

Shevel said he did not know of any research that would support the Facebook post’s claim. 

That doesn’t mean it could never happen, but if it does it must be very rare,” he said. 

Dr Prakash Kathan, a neurologist at the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Center, also in Johannesburg, told Africa Check it was “possible that endorphins may help one feel better and perhaps provide headache relief”. 

Endorphins, a chemical in your body, are released during sexual intercourse.  They can “reduce your perception of pain”.

But Kathan warned that “sexual orgasms can trigger headaches too”.

Treat headaches with painkillers or see specialist

Shevel told Africa Check that if a person regularly takes painkillers for a headache then they should see a specialist. 

It is best to treat the cause of the headache or the type of headache appropriately,” Kathan said. 

“It becomes necessary to see a doctor for a headache if the headache is very severe and causes issues with the activities of daily living."

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