Sex and Self-Pleasure for Pain Management

My most notable Crohn’s symptom has always been pain.

The kind of pain that has me doubled over, curled up in the fetal position, begging the universe for any kind of relief. The kind of pain that makes me weep, that makes me blackout, that makes me wonder how long I can survive. The kind of pain that I'd literally do anything to escape.

Regardless of the frequency and urgency I experience, and the nausea and vomiting I endure, it's the pain that has been the most debilitating factor in my Crohn’s disease, and the most agonizing for my mental health.

Traditional pain medication definitely has a place in my nightstand drawer, but I often feel like it has to be rationed, kept for only the worst of the worst moments.

What does this mean for my pain management?

Pain management for IBD

Over time, I’ve collected some pain management techniques outside of traditional pain medication. I’ve utilized cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, movement, essential oils, "safe food" diets, deep breathing, and more. But the one that’s actually made a difference? The one that has actually given me pain relief – is having an orgasm.

Experiencing an orgasm has offered pain relief for my IBD.

Sure, sex and self-pleasure may be considered taboo to discuss, but then again, so is IBD. So why not just put that all aside?

Orgasm for pain relief

Whether experienced via partner engagement or self-pleasure, an orgasm releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals produced by your body to reduce stress and pain. Interestingly enough, endorphins produce an effect similar to that from taking opioid medications.

Natural, self-produced pain relief? It sounds too good to be true.

When another IBD patient suggested this to me years ago, I was skeptical. Most of the time, when I feel awful, I hardly want to be touched, let alone touch myself. But, when I gave myself space to explore – I found that it actually was incredibly beneficial.

Physical benefits of sex and self-pleasure

Having sex to achieve orgasm definitely takes more work and coordination on high pain days, but I've learned that it also provides me the greatest sense of pain relief. This type of intimacy and pain management has become a very open conversation with my partner. Many times, when he sees me struggling, he immediately asks if I'd want to have sex or for him to help me achieve orgasm without penetration.

Other times, self-pleasure goes a long way. When I am alone and using self-pleasure for pain relief, I find that a slow and steady buildup of anticipation causes the most natural and longest-lasting release.

Personally, coupling an orgasm with a hot shower (together, or one after the other) gives me the longest period of pain reduction that I can gain without prescription medication.

Like I said earlier, I know this topic can feel incredibly awkward.

Tips for talking to your partner

Here are some tips for talking to your partner about using orgasm for pain management:

  • Start with an open conversation. I find that being open about the benefit of an orgasm is really important for intimacy anyway, so sharing that it can help you with pain relief may increase your partner's understanding AND their interest in supporting you.
  • If self-pleasure isn't something you do regularly, take time to practice. Interestingly enough, I find there's value in practicing with or side by side with your partner. It allows for both intimacy and control, especially when you don't feel up to being touched.
  • Learn what makes you feel best. Orgasms for pleasure may be achieved differently than orgasms for pain management. Utilizing this in the moment when pain is plaguing you may help you determine how to get the relief as quickly or as easily as possible.

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