Can Masturbation Relieve Chronic Pain?

Do orgasms help with pain? The short answer: Yes. This article will delve into how masturbation and orgasms reduce pain, enhance mood and well-being, and why they should be part of your chronic pain toolkit.

Chronic pain comes in many forms, but for each sufferer, there is one common factor: pain. Whether it’s every day or half the days of the month, chronic pain persists beyond the usual recovery period, and coping with it can be a lifelong journey.

Nude woman with shoulder injury

Chronic pain: The sex body-positivity problem

Besides the well-documented physical and psychological impacts of pain, living with chronic pain can also have a toll on your feelings about your body and sex.

People in constant discomfort may experience negative feelings towards their body, seeing it as the thing that has ‘failed’ them. These feelings, as well as the experience of physical disability, can make aspects of sex, like feeling aroused and physically confident, difficult.

Mainstream body and sex positivity tends to focus on appearance. So what can you do if your negative feelings stem from something unrelated to what you see when you look in the mirror?

Masturbation is unlikely to cure chronic pain, but it can reduce symptoms and boost overall wellbeing

People living with chronic pain will have personal strategies and treatments that help get them through the day, such as medication and hot or cold applicators, as well as practices and lifestyle changes that naturally relieve physical and emotional tension, such as massage, yoga, and meditation, and rest.

Care management is complex, and treatments and therapies should be worked out with the guidance of medical professionals.

But alongside medical treatments is one pain-relieving practice anyone can do from the comfort of their home - a practice that’s rarely prescribed by doctors: masturbation.

Woman with glucose patch stretching at home

Do orgasms help with pain? Solo-pleasure is evidentially and anecdotally proven to boost mood, lower stress levels, reduce physical tension, and positively impact attitudes around sex and the body.

Masturbation and orgasm are effective as both an immediate pain reliever and a way to reduce symptoms for hours, or sometimes longer term.

In addition, sexually stimulating your body allows you to see it as something that functions to provide not only pain but also pleasure.

Do Orgasms Help With Pain? Here’s What The Science Says

Given the taboo nature of the topic, there aren’t many studies looking into the pain-relieving power of orgasm. Most people discover the benefits of masturbation on their own.

Two scientists undertook one of the most well-known studies on this topic in 1995. Their research found that women were less likely to feel their fingers being squeezed while masturbating, especially during climax, due to a decrease in pain perception.

Another 2013 study found that 60% of 100 migraine sufferers reported relief from having sex during an attack.

So, how do orgasms help with pain?

How can something that, for most people, is a hot and fun activity, also provide powerful medical relief? There are a number of answers.

Woman stretching on white bed

Much of the magical power of masturbation and orgasm is due to the hormones and neurotransmitters they produce.

Do orgasms help with pain? Sexual activity releases feel-good neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, prolactin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals not only boost mood, lower stress levels, and alter our experience of pain, but also affect parts of the body connected to the nervous system.

As well as boosting positive feelings, dopamine improves blood circulation, which is useful for pain reduction. Sexual arousal also releases opioids, which are frequently used for treating migraines.

We’ve all experienced post-orgasm bliss. This comes in part from the fact that orgasm relaxes the mind and muscles. In this way, masturbation and orgasm also aid sleep, something that can be challenging for chronic pain sufferers but is essential for boosting rest and overall well-being.

One of the hormones that naturally rises during sexual activities like masturbation is testosterone. Some studies suggest that testosterone reduces bodily inflammation and increases our ability to withstand discomfort.

On the psychological level, applying pleasurable touch to a body in pain can be transformative. It can take your mind off the pain, even momentarily, leading to a more positive outlook, less focus on the anxiety associated with illness, and increased motivation and ability to engage in other pain-relieving activities.

Woman on sofa on laptop with sex toys

How to alleviate pain with masturbation

Pain and sex: two things that work differently for every person and every body. For you, the relief provided by masturbation might last 10 minutes or 10 days! Either way, it’s useful to factor it into your regular routine.

If your pain makes physical exertion difficult, but you still want to try masturbation for pain, explore easy-to-use toys that create sensations that feel good, positions that are comfortable for you, and don’t push yourself to orgasm.

This advice also stands for people who find their libido affected by pain. Don’t pressure yourself, as this could have the opposite effect. Instead, try to find toys, touch, and external erotic stimuli like videos that can take your mind momentarily away from the discomfort.

So, does masturbation help with headaches? Do orgasms help with pain?

Self-love and orgasm aren’t replacements for care management plans you already have, but they can be a fun way to take back control over your body’s sensations and improve your mood and quality of life.

Solo-pleasure might not work for everyone - orgasms may make headaches or muscle pain worse - but if it helps you, it can slowly transform the way you see your body, and its capabilities, and give you a pleasurable start or relaxing finish to your day.