Between the sheets

Treating anxiety between the sheets 

There is one thing standing between my being an anxiety-fueled hot mess and a productive ladyboss: an orgasm.

While most people see sex (and the hot pursuit of multiple orgasms) as a recreational activity or a weekend luxury, I see it as a daily necessity. It’s my inexpensive and ridiculously fun alternative to popping Xanax.

In my 20s, as I struggled to find myself and come to terms with finding a “real job” in the middle of the Great Recession, anxiety became my new normal. In my 30s, migraines became a weekly ritual that crippled me for days at a time. Traditional doctors told me it was a normal part of getting old. They suggested trying a cocktail of mood-altering drugs. Even at my most fatalistic, I couldn’t accept that my only option was a pile of pills (and frankly, I was too broke to afford them).

Fortunately, a naturopathic doctor echoed what I was reading on the internet: that lifestyle and diet could transform the way you feel. I slowly changed everything, eating a vegan diet, going to daily yoga classes and meditating for an hour every morning. It was sheer bliss. I was at one with the everything. I was totally chill.

Unfortunately, all my time and money were spent on not being anxious. God forbid I had to work late and skip a yoga class or that my friends were meeting at Otto for pizza and I had to choose between social time and quell-my-nerves quiet time. My personal crusade became the priority over being a good friend, and I became sort of a jerk about my lifestyle. Daily yoga became two yoga classes an evening, and eating healthy became hours spent alone in the kitchen making the perfect kale salad.

While being healthy and fit helped alleviate my anxiety, being a fanatic made my anxiety worse.

The unexpected cure to anxiety came disguised as a great Tinder date.

Our relationship was just “pretty good,” but it included an unusual amount of morning sex. Days that started with one (or four) orgasms turned out to be more productive and enjoyable. Of course I still felt anxiety, but it was proportional to dealing with family drama, starting my own business and being in a new relationship.

When the relationship ended, I kept up the practice of morning sex. It was an easy way to manage anxiety and an orgasm a day seemed to keep my headaches away. I know you won’t simply trust my personal experience, so here’s the research to show that I’m not the only one orgasming my way to wellness:

In a study conducted in 2013, a group of German social scientists found that 60 percent of migraine sufferers and 33 percent of cluster headache sufferers experienced relief while engaging in sexual intercourse. The endorphins released during sex can function as natural painkillers, and these brilliant studies declared that “having an orgasm in any way, shape or form will help” those suffering through a headache. (Ironic for all who have used headaches as an excuse to avoid sex.)

A photo by JOHN TOWNER. done on sex and anxiety have found that sex with a partner lowered the blood pressure of test subjects engaging in stressful activities. Sex releases oxytocin, “the love hormone,” which can be calming and help build relationships.

I tested the theory myself in a 30-day practice. Committing to starting each day with multi-orgasmic sex (whether someone else was involved or not), I experienced many of the benefits that yoga and exercise provided, but in just a few minutes. Sex done right can be very efficient. Of course, I did this all in the name of science.

It’s a practice that I’ve continued for years. Daily morning sex makes me feel less anxious in general, but it has replaced Tylenol and booze for medicating stressful situations. Before making a big life decision, I have sex to clear my mind. If I have a headache, sex alleviates it, and in most cases cures it completely.

Orgasms may be the fastest, cheapest and most effective cure I’ve found. I’ve started faking headaches just to give myself an excuse to have a few.

Emily Straubel is a writer and ceramic artist living in Portland. Writing about design and technology by day, and the unpredictable world of love and dating by night, her work is driven by curiosity and FOMO.

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