Possible Reasons You Feel Aroused When Sick
Choking on mucus, having the world spin around as you fight a fever, and barely being able to walk to the bathroom due to fatigue sounds like the perfect excuse for your body to focus solely on fighting the sickness.
Paradoxically enough, many people feel a heightened sense of arousal when feeling under the weather. The question is why on earth does the body want sexual release during a time of sickness?
If you've ever wondered about the answer, you're not alone.
Why does this happen?
There's no single definitive answer that can be given since each person has a different experience.
One common explanation for why you are aroused when you're sick focuses on your mental health. Being stuck in bed, unable to work or enjoy your hobbies, is a perfect recipe for boredom, especially if the sickness lasts for a while. As a result, seeking sexual pleasure is one of the few accessible ways to feel much better and fight boredom.
Furthermore, being stuck in bed often leaves you alone with your thoughts and senses, increasing your awareness of how you and your body feel. Being more acutely aware of how you feel can mean you may get aroused, and more easily aroused, and this physical awareness actually enhances the experience.
"I think a big part of the explanation is that when we are home and not feeling well, we are more self-aware than we normally are," said Nathaniel Morris, a researcher in Ontario, Canada, and the author of "Transforming Orgasms With Psychedelics, Cannabis & Science." "Awareness of what is going on inside your body is known as interoception. Many people find that enhancing their interoception makes them more easily aroused sexually and better able to enjoy the experience."
Masturbating or having sex releases "feel good" hormones, such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. You may develop more intense sexual cravings as a way to cope with the discomfort of the sickness, basking in pleasure and temporarily numbing yourself to the negative symptoms.
Is there a biological reason?
Although some limited evidence suggests that masturbating or having sex while sick can alleviate symptoms and potentially speed up recovery, it's not clear if this effect is merely a positive consequence of satisfying your arousal or actively encouraged by your body.
"Sex can charge the immune system and the central nervous system, so there may be something innately biological," said Debra Laino, D.H.S., M.Ed., a board-certified clinical sexologist and relationship therapist in Delaware. "Sexual desire raises cytokines and lymphocytes, which, biologically speaking, can also regulate the immune response. All of this can help our bodies recover."
In fact, some limited research confirms that having sex while sick encourages the release of cytokines and lymphocytes. Hormones can strengthen your immune system and help you fight sickness.
Masturbating or having sex activates your sympathetic nervous system, related to your "fight or flight" response, which leads to a spike in adrenaline and other hormonal changes. As a result, your blood vessels constrict, making breathing through your nose easier and reducing inflammation, which is the cause of fatigue.
Another theory comes from the field of evolutionary biology. The hypothesis suggests that you are very vulnerable and need protection while sick, and having sex is one way to maintain the bond you have with your partner. Having sex with your partner also releases the hormone oxytocin, which is responsible for the feeling of unconditional love and the desire to be close, cuddle and take care of each other.
Is it safe to have sex and masturbate when sick?
In most cases, having sex with your partner or masturbating when sick is safe.
"If someone feels like they want to have sex while sick, then absolutely have sex," Laino said.
"As long as you are physically up for it, sexuality is healthy, so by all means have fun," Morris added.
However, the level of safety depends on the severity of the condition. If you are totally lacking any physical energy, suffer from vertigo or can barely think straight due to brain fog, then it's better to wait until your symptoms get better.
Masturbating may be the safer option if you don't want to stay too close to your partner, which increases the chance of them getting sick as well. Having an orgasm by yourself also may be less tiring, especially if you use toys or a remote-controlled vibrator, which can take care of all the work for you.
Sexual comfort and healing are important
There's nothing embarrassing, weird or shameful about being aroused while sick. In fact, sexual comfort and healing while sick are important.
"Drink a lot of fluids while sick to flush viruses, bacteria, funguses out of your system, and if you are sweaty, have your partner help you change the sheets so you are comfortable," Laino recommended. "Comfort while sick is important. Essential oil diffusers can also be a nice add-on while sick and aroused as it can bring some relaxation to the experience."
But remember that while having sex or masturbating can be a fun, healthy and safe way to pass the time when you're sick, it's not a replacement for taking medication and following your doctor's instructions on how to get better.
Also, don't forget to listen to your body.
"The term 'sexual healing' is often treated like a joke, but there is good science showing that the positive health effects are very real," Morris said. "Listen to your body. If you feel up for some sexual activity, that's your body letting you know the time is right."