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Can Sex Relieve Chronic Pain?

“Happy hormones” released during sex and self-pleasure have positive effects on chronic pain relief. 

Let’s talk about sex, baby. 

When you suffer from chronic pain, sex and self-pleasure might be the last thing on your mind. But, it turns out that time spent in the bedroom (or elsewhere – we’re not judging) could be just the ticket for alleviating aches. 

Plus, curbing pain has other big benefits; as the brain and body are intricately linked, mental wellbeing can improve. Unfortunately, it’s common for chronic pain patients to also be diagnosed with depression

Our brain is directly involved with the intensity of pain we experience. Whereas chemicals released under stress can worsen pain, hormones released during sex and self-pleasure can bring natural pain relief. 

Overall, we have four different neurotransmitters known as “happy hormones”: serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. Dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin can all be released through sexual pleasure. 

  • Endorphins are natural pain killers that act as an analgesic to reduce the severity of our pain and even promote euphoria.
  • Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, acts as a chemical messenger for our brain. It is most often associated with bonding after childbirth and sex.
  • Dopamine helps to decrease anxiety and depression by rewarding our brain. 

Sex for Chronic Pain Relief

So, can sex relieve chronic pain? It might sound too good to be true, but yes. Since those happy hormones, like oxytocin, are released as we orgasm, frequent sex or self-pleasure can alleviate pain symptoms. 

However, be mindful of your condition. When you are ready to engage in sex with your partner, communicate your limitations around your pain clearly and establish boundaries. Don't ever push yourself if your symptoms are too severe or if you don't feel ready.  

Self-pleasure for Chronic Pain Relief

Solo pleasure is equally beneficial for pain relief as sex with a partner. Self-pleasure also activates your brain's natural pain relief chemicals. If you’re in need of some inspiration, you can turn to intimacy aids or toys that can also be used to massage internal acupressure points. 

Even simple self-touch can be powerful for the relief of chronic pain. Try giving yourself a gentle foot rub or stroking the inside of your forearm for a boost of those feel-good endorphins. If this still feels like it might be too much, start with a self-care practice like a warm bath before bed. 

Other Types of Intimacy for Chronic Pain Relief

If sex isn’t something you’re ready for at this point in your struggle with chronic pain, there are plenty of other means of achieving feel-good intimacy. For example, start off with cuddling or an extra-long hug. 

Studies have shown that a hug still releases oxytocin and reduces inflammation; aim for at least ten seconds to get the maximum benefits. As a bonus, the person on the receiving end of your hug gets a natural happiness boost too!

Additional Benefits of Sex and Self-Pleasure for Those with Chronic Pain

In addition to natural pain relief, sex with a partner or solo masturbation can have other benefits as well. It can help to increase self-esteem and body image and lead to feelings of empowerment. An orgasm before bed can also help improve sleep and, when done frequently, can help women to strengthen their pelvic floor. 

Discovering the ways that your body can provide pleasure can be a much-needed relief if you're used to chronic pain. Learning to reframe your thoughts about your body and what it's capable of may help you to have a more loving or accepting relationship with yourself and your body.

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