The media really ran with the “story” this week that sex “cures” migraines. Friends and acquaintances were jokingly sending me the link and news outlets were shouting it as the great “cure” that has been eluding us all!
This bothered me for a few reasons.
1. It’s not a cure. There is no cure for migraines. I hate that word and I wish the media wasn’t so quick to throw it around.
2. I couldn’t find a media outlet that accurately interpreted the story. There was some science behind it but they didn’t indicate exactly what that science was.
3. There’s something really degrading about the way the media has reported this story. We have all struggled so much. I’ve personally been on so many medications, missed out on so many important life moments, left an entire career behind, and been hospitalized dozens of times. For the media to trivialize migraine disease by suggesting that women simply need to have sex more often, to me, further stigmatizes our disease.
I wanted to share the link in the title of this post with you because my friend Shelly wrote an eloquent post on this. I highly suggest you read it and share it.
What are your thoughts on sex and migraines in the news? How do you think the media has portrayed migraines?
I haven’t seen any news stories about sex as a migraine cure recently, but it’s made the rounds plenty of times in the past. And to be sure, there have been a few self reported studies done correlating the endorphin rush with migraine relief if experienced in the pro-drome period. But that’s anecdotal, unproven in a lab environment, and only found to be effective in less than 1/3 of migraine patients.
In summary, the observed association between relief of headache disorders and sexual activity in some patients is not clear enough to derive the advice of sexual intercourse as a therapeutic mean for every patient.
Most news stories about health are researched poorly and reported sloppily, and when I was much younger, this particular popular misconception (sex cures headache) led to a sexual assault. This wholes study is very gender reductive (men get migraines too) not to mention it reeks of “just lie back and think of england”
it may well be time to throw out the old cliché, “Not tonight, dear, I have a headache;” and give sexual activity a try the next time a Migraine or cluster attack strikes.
Not to mention it confuses Migraines with headaches - which are totally different things.
Also anecdotal, I can delay a migraine with orgasm - sometimes for a day or longer, but it’s not a prevention/treatment/cure. It’s a coping strategy. I’m not surprised it’s a common coping strategy. I could NEVER be sexually intimate with a partner during a migraine, and it’s kind of creepy that “Health Central” suggests I should.
Liberate your Spine for Pain-Free Sex
Tools and Tips to help you get pleasure without pain
There is no quick cure for the aches and pains as we get older, but there are ways to alleviate the pressure that can aggravate the pain and gain some semblance of control by using a few well placed tricks.
1. Bathe and Massage First
The muscles surrounding the back will work much better without tension. A warm bath and a massage can do wonders for preparing the back for sex. Try using sensual aromatherapy to get in the mood and soothe aching muscles and relieve tension. Products with rose oils can help relax and soothe your body.
Tell your partner what is working for you and what isn’t. Back pain is no reason to be embarrassed. On the flip side, don’t forget to speak up if you are the partner of the person with back pain, and you are feeling your needs are not being met — now that all of the focus is going on the person with the pain. Experiment with different positions together. Talk about what works and what doesn’t.
3. Don’t make Intercourse the Main Course
Focus on positions that don’t require much movement. Oral sex or mutual masturbation, which requires less participation from the back, can be the goal of the evening instead of intercourse. Spice oral sex up with flavored lube like Durex Cherry. Add to manual stimulation with a variety of temperatures, like ice cubes or heat packs. This can be a great time to enhance your repertoire.
4. Get Some Help
Look for vibrators and dildos that have long arms or are “hands-free.”
The hands-free vibes usually strap on. Wireless wearables make it even easier because once it is strapped to your body you don’t even have to move around a cord. Try the Wireless Micro-Butterfly.
Long armed vibrator Hitachi Magic Wand is an old favorite give strong vibrations AND can be maneuvered in many positions. Because of the weight and shape of this vibrator, it will stay put wherever you have placed it. The Hitachi will also work placed between partners for couple’s play. Also try the Flex-O-Pleaser.
5. Position Yourself Correctly
First, find positions where you can limit your movements.
Those with Extension type back pain often find that positions that arch the back slightly are preferable. On your back is the preferred position for many who prefer to penetrate with this type of back pain. A towel in the small of the back works well to well to support the subtle arch for them as their lover straddles them. Many who prefer to be penetrated also find that lying on the stomach, supporting their chest with a pillow while their partner enters from behind may alleviate the pressure.
Those with flexion type back pain often find positions with a forward bending motion are more comfortable. This would be missionary style with legs drawn up to the chest, or doggy style.
When on your back, bend your knees slightly. You might want to put a pillow or towel under your knees to give them support. The missionary position may be out of the question for people who penetrate with this type of pain, however. Some find entering their partner from behind, while they lean forward does the trick.
Nested Spoons (lying on your side, one lover in front of the other – stomach to back) can be tolerated by most back pain. Sensual yet still comfortable, the closeness of one tummy against the other’s back can encourage a connected feeling, it gives easy access to breasts and clitoris, and doesn’t cause excess pressure on either lover’s lumbar region.
Different shaped pillows can help you hold sex positions longer. Try wedge shaped or cylindrical pillows.
Another option is a Love Swing. The Love Swing is easy to hook up (on most door frames) and can hold up to 400 lbs. This contraption can ease you into the most awkward of poses.
I feel compelled to make it known that I do not move through the world as sometimes black, sometimes disabled, sometimes queer, sometimes femme, sometimes male and sometimes Afropolitan. I move through the world embodying all of those identities at the same time, all of the time. We often make the mistake of thinking that an intersectional identity means a set of compartmentalized lived experiences joined together. An intersectional identity is one lived experience layered with the complexity of sociopolitical and cultural context. To borrow the words of Eli Clare, “gender reaches into disability; disability wraps around class; class strains against abuse; abuse snarls into sexuality; sexuality folds on top of race…everything finally piling onto a single human body.”
When people asked me how I identified prior to my understanding of what it means to embody an intersectional identity, I gave them a rehearsed, succinct response because I didn’t want to overwhelm them with the complexity of my lived experience. I would say: I was born in Namibia, but brought up in South Africa, now living in Canada, and that I use a wheelchair because I was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of two. I usually left it at that, hoping I satisfied at least some of their curiosity. Now, I make it known that my personal narrative cannot and should not be summarized because I am intentionally complex. I do not subscribe to normative ways of being and knowing. And I do not even want to try. I dwell in the grace of my differences. Born to a South African freedom fighter mother who fled the Apartheid regime to Namibia and went into self-imposed exile, I grew up knowing that everything is political, including my existence.
My existence necessitates a re-imagining of ontological and epistemological understandings of time and space. I identify as femme partially because masculinity has given me nothing in terms of validation and self-actualization. Being a femme man allows me to perform masculinity outside of its heteropatriarchal gaze. People who are invested in hegemonic conceptions of gender may label my gender expression ‘effeminate.’ My gender expression is femme, not effeminate. The latter is an adjective couched in a web of patriarchal, cis normative, trans misogynistic assumptions. The former is a self-identification grounded in the divine feminine. I very much claim my masculinity, it just happens to be a feminine manifestation of masculinity. Notwithstanding the sociopolitical imposition of an inaccessible world and cultural paradigm, disabled femmes of all genders teach able bodied ness new ways of being beautiful in the world. We firmly belief that there is no shame in seeking glamour, power and magnificence if you have been labeled undesirable, useless and inconsequential; there’s no shame because those things already abide within the spirit, they’re yours for the seeking.
As a disabled femme, I deal with pain, rejection and solitude in ways that compel the people around me to redefine courage and tenacity. I reconfigure sexiness and sweetness and passion in the name of ugliness, tragedy and the promise of survival. Forget being inspirational, disabled femmes want to be everything. We want to move through the world on our own terms, guided by a bright flame of fabulousness. As I see it, we should all be allowed to simultaneously enjoy and problematize the myriad of ways we show up in sociocultural spaces. We neither have to give up the fabulous, nor put up with its shit. There’s space for complex shades of grey in our experiences, because we have been accorded with the inalienable agency to exist and embody that existence in sexy, dynamic, conventional and counter-hegemonic ways. Indeed, I’m relentless in my pursuit of the limelight. But, I’m more obsessed with embodying light. Since leaving South Africa, I’ve grown more and more comfortable identifying as an Afropolitan. As Taiye Selasie put it, “what most typifies the Afropolitan consciousness is the refusal to oversimplify; the effort to understand what is ailing in Africa alongside the desire to honour what is wonderful [and] unique. Rather than essentializing the geographical entity, we seek to comprehend the cultural complexity; to honor the intellectual and spiritual legacy; and to sustain our parents’ cultures.”
To negotiate my survival as a disabled queer femme Afropolitan, I break down what it means to survive into little pieces of grace, then take those little pieces of grace and reconstruct existence in a way that challenges the normative. Without difference, the universe would be less vulnerable, less revealing, less courageous.
super exciting health update~
One of my friends and her mom both have fibro, and found an amazing doctor who specializes in food allergies and sensitivities and is very interested in finding what actually causes fibromyalgia in individuals (because fibromyalgia is really just a way of doctors saying “we don’t know what is making you so sick, but we recognize you’re sick”) as well as using as few pharmaceuticals as possible. I went to my second appointment yesterday, and it was really amazing. After years of doctors telling me that whatever is actually making me sick isn’t in textbooks, I finally found one who was willing to take the time to think outside the box (aka pharmaceutical studies and textbooks) and figure out what’s going on. The first appointment he just asked a lot of questions and did a bunch of blood work, including ones no one has thought to run on me yet. The blood tests showed I have limited mitochondrial function.
Mitochondria are part of all animal and plant cells, and are in charge of energy production (synthesizing sugars to create energy our bodies can use), synthesizing hormones, and cellular respiration (synthesizing oxygen). Since my body is barely able to utilize oxygen, that’s why I get such severe muscular pain and inflammation and symptoms like that, because my cells take a lot longer to repair themselves.
Since my ability to synthesize hormones is impaired, this has caused hypothyroidism. This explains a lot, since every doctor I’ve gone to, from the time I first started having symptoms when I was like 11 has suspected that hypothyroidism is the underlying issue, but my thyroid tests both above and below what it should (it’s like a rollercoaster). This is because of the inflammation around my thyroid, which causes it to secrete large amounts of hormones at a time, and then it runs out and can’t release enough, which causes it to test weird.My inability to synthesize sugar has resulted in pretty severe hypoglycemia, which is another thing doctors have suspected for a long time, but been unable to explain or test for.
In other words- I have fibromyalgia because I have compromised mitochondrial function that has caused hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia. He gave me a probiotic that targets mitochondria and should help them function better, and I also have to give myself vitamin B injections twice a week. I also have to cut sugar and caffeine out of my diet, which will be really hard, but worth it. Explains why I can’t drink more than a sip of alcohol! I may need to go on thyroid medication and inject insulin as well, but he wants to try this first.
It’s really refreshing to have some answers that are based on diet changes and vitamins rather than just responding immediately with drugs. I hope it makes a big difference- it makes a lot of sense that it will. Oh- the blood tests that tested the functioning of my mitochondria aren’t covered by OHIP- I guess that’s why doctors haven’t previously bothered to run this…
I’m happy, but pretty overwhelmed, and a little skeptical, just because I’ve had to deal with so much bullshit from the medical system. Injecting myself doesn’t really bother me, but it will definitely be something to get used to. The diet change will be hard- but it’s not my first time cutting out shit that’s not good for my body, and I know how worth it it is. This is probably exactly what was behind my mom’s fibro. I wish she could have gotten more to the bottom of it too.
Found out I can’t eat sugar anymore because it’s making me sicker. Also found out I get to stab myself with a needle bi-weekly if I wanna not feel like shit (totally worth it).
Basically, I’m not a real human. Just a sexy beast.
More detailed post coming soon to this blog. ‘Tis in the works!
Also to this blog!
Mankoski Pain Scale
0 Pain free
1 Very minor annoyance-occasional minor twinges
2 Minor annoyance-occasional
3 Annoying enough to be distracting
4 Can be ignored if you are really involved in your work, but still distracting,
5 Can’t be ignored for more than 30 minutes.
6 Can’t be ignored for any length of time, but you can still go to work and participate in social activities.
7 Make it difficult to concentrate, interferes with sleep, you can still function with effort
8 Physical activity severely limited. You can read and converse with effort. Nausea and dizziness may occur.
9 Unable to speak, crying out or moaning uncontrollable- pain makes you pass out
10 Unconscious. Pain makes you pass out.
I propose the Jenna Rice scale of fatigue!
0- No fatigue
1- Very minor fatigue, can be pushed through.
2- Slight fatigue, easily ignorable.
3- Beginning to feel fatigued, not a big deal but noticable when you think about it.
4- Fatigue begins to interfere with work, you have difficulty concentrating.
5- Still able to function normally, but you know you are too fatigued to keep up any activity for long.
6- Limbs starting to feel heavy, too fatigued to move normally.
7- Too tired to be out, can sit up for short periods of time, but you begin to be too weak and fatigued to be sitting or standing for long.
8- Too fatigued to function regularly, still able to get up and move when needed, but movements become difficult.
9- Too tired to think coherently. Unable to move around much.
10- Too fatigued to move at all, breathing becomes difficult.