The Sex Prescription

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At some time in all our lives most of us will struggle with chronic pain, whether it has to do with degenerative diseases, cancer, or auto-immune issues like fibromyalgia or lupus.  It may not be an experience that we can escape from. Yes, we are all living longer but that often entails more aches and pains as we all move towards old age. Pain management has in fact become its own medical specialty.

Luckily, we are becoming more and more aware of natural ways to deal with chronic pain issues. We now have the option of acupuncture/pressure, yoga modalities, meditation, herbs and supplements, and sex. Did you read that right? Yes, you did: sex. A natural assumption might be, “But isn’t sex something most of us want avoid if we are in pain?” Sex is usually one of the first things to get thrown out with the bath water when we aren’t feeling well. But, surprise! There are actually healing qualities to sex that we may want to utilize in our pain management. Plus, you can’t get more natural than orgasm.

Dr. Barry Komisaruk, co-author on The Science of Orgasm, has conducted research on this specific issue.  He has found that vaginal mechanical stimulation in rats produced a very strong pain-blocking effect, which was stronger than 10 milligrams of morphine per kilogram of body weight.

He discovered that pressure on the G-Spot elevated pain thresholds by over 47 percent and pleasurable stimulation increased it by more than 80 percent. In fact, the overall pain thresholds of women went up by more than 108 percent. Interestingly, there was no change in touch thresholds, which means this phenomenon is not a distracter, and it’s not an anesthetic. It’s an analgesic which means that vaginal/clitoral stimulation alleviates pain.

The pain relief from sex/orgasm may not be long-term, but it can offer a nice reprieve. And there other potential benefits. The mix of healthy hormones released upon stimulation and orgasm only does the body good.  This includes oxytocin and endorphins. One could also presuppose that intimate partner relationships would be enhanced through these sexual bonding exercises while struggling with an inherently stressful life situation such as chronic pain. In addition, the after effects of sex can lead to increased levels of relaxation and a sense of well-being. It should be noted that a profound sense of empowerment may be garnered about one’s ability to treat chronic pain on one’s own--through touch alone.

Even sex without orgasm allows endorphins to ease pain and relax the body so that sleep becomes easier. It might be challenging for a person to have interest in sex when dealing with chronic pain, but if one can prioritize some sort of intimate contact with one’s partner or simply find time to masturbate on a regular basis, there are many ways in which pain can be relieved. Sex and orgasm is medicinal--gone a day might keep at least some of the pain away.

Dr. Kat Van Kirk is a clinical sexologist and relationship therapist who is a Yoga Alliance certified teacher/therapist. Visit www.drkat.com and watch/listen to her free iTunes podcasts, “Daily Sex Tips from Hawaii” and “Sex Chat with Dr. Kat.”