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Migraine & Sex. . . and Writing About Them

“Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.” I think of this advice so often that I’ve thought of having it tattooed inside my wrist in the abbreviated form of “open, bleed” with an arrow to a vein. The advice came to mind most recently while I was writing about sex and migraine for Migraine & Headache Awareness Month for Migraine.com. In this case, though, I felt less like I was bleeding and more like I’d hung my dirty laundry in the front yard and shined a spotlight on it.

Chronic migraine complicates a person’s sex life, to say the least. Not enough people are willing to write about it openly and honestly, but it needs to be addressed, so I agreed to try. I wrote a draft and put it away, thinking I could go back and take my relationship out of it, make myself feel a little less vulnerable. Revisiting the draft a couple weeks later, I saw that I really couldn’t remove myself and still capture the heart of the message. So I sent it to Hart and asked if he was OK with all that I revealed. I held my breath, simultaneously hoping he’d give me the go ahead and that he would say “no way.”

All this agonizing reminds me of a post I wrote about my homesickness for Seattle when I lived in Boston. I posted it, cringing as I hit “publish.” Even a year later, I couldn’t read it without feeling overly exposed. I saw it earlier this week and thought, “Oh, that’s no big deal.” What felt at the time like baring my soul turned out to be nothing more than truthful, sincere writing. This, I believe, is a sign that I’ve grown as a writer, that I’m willing to dig deeper in the service of my craft.

Opening a vein and bleeding onto the page can be gut-wrenching and cringe-inducing. It also produces the most profound insights and touches readers in a way that holding back never can. Not to imply I do this all for you. I, too, benefit from writing and publishing thoughts outside my comfort zone. But it still makes me squirm. (So much so that I can only link to the aforementioned post about sex and migraine by writing about how awkward it was to write!)

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Health.com: New Headache & Chronic Pain Resource

Health.com, a new website in the vein of WebMD, offers comprehensive resources on headache and chronic pain. Resources include original articles as well as recommendations for other sites. The Daily Headache is featured as one of the best sites for headache support and I was interviewed for a story on sex and chronic pain.

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Orgasm-Triggered Headache

An instantaneous explosion of unbelievable pain perfectly describes the first post-orgasm migraine I’ve ever had. (At least the first one I’ve been able to correlate.) The pain overwhelms any thought about what this might mean for my sex life, but I know it isn’t good. Why can’t I be one of the lucky people for whom orgasms relieve migraines? (While my orgasm-triggered headache was definitely a migraine, it’s actually rare for orgasms to trigger migraine attacks. More often, orgasms triggers what’s called an orgasmic headache or preorgasmic headache.)

Orgasm, Headache and Migraine: Does the “Big O” Affect Headaches and Migraine? is a well-researched explanation of the contradictory phenomena of sex and orgasms triggering headaches or migraines or relieving them, sometimes entirely.

2/27/12: Treatment for headaches or migraines triggered by sex or orgasms is surprisingly simple! See my latest post, Prevention of Headaches or Migraines Triggered By Sex or Orgasm.

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Ask the Expert About Headaches & Migraines: National Headache Awareness Week

A daily Q&A with headache experts is being posted each day of National Headache Awareness Week. Submitted by patients, questions cover the gamut of headache topics. Some so far: sinus headaches, sudden onset headaches, new daily persistent headache, headaches triggered by sun or sex, and burning and tingling in the back of the head.

Q&As from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are available as Word (doc) files. Many more questions are covered in past issues of NHF Head Lines, the organization’s newsletter. Read archives of readers’ mail and Ask the Pharmacist.

I’m often asked for recommendations of headache clinics or specialists, but only have experience with a few. The experts participating in this week’s Q&A are listed below with links to their clinics.

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Tonight: Live Webcast on Women & Migraine

Why Do Women Get More Migraines Than Men? is the topic of tonight’s HealthTalk-hosted webcast. Headache specialists Christina Peterson and Dawn Marcus will discuss this sex disparity and treatments that are particularly helpful for women.

Listener questions will be answered, but you have to register in advance to submit a question (I have no idea how late they’ll will take questions). Registration is not required to listen to the program.

The broadcast starts at 7 p.m. EST (4 p.m. PST). Starting about 10 minutes before the webcast, go to the program’s description page and look for a link that says “Join the Program.”

Sorry for the late notice!