You know, I tried SO hard to come up with a good rhyme..."When your legs give a yank, turn to your spank bank?" "Are your legs restless? Masturbate to redress!" "If your legs still shake, yank or your trouser snake?"
I got nothin'. Rhyming has failed me here. But the weird science, it NEVER fails me!
Ah, masturbation. Many people talk about various things being a miracle cure or a miracle drug (like, I dunno, things like olive oil, people were all excited about resveratrol in red wine for a while, you know…). But nothing seems to titillate as a miracle cure quite like orgasm. It reduces stress, increases feelings of wellbeing, sometimes cures headaches (though it sometimes causes them), and might even help your nasal congestion. And now? Restless leg syndrome!
Marin et al. "Sexual intercourse and masturbation: Potential relief factors for restless legs syndrome?" Sleep Medicine Letter to the Editor, 2011
One important thing to keep in mind: CASE STUDY. This is a case study. Not a large study correlating sexual activity with relief of restless leg (though if someone wants to DO that study, send Sci a copy!! I'd totally blog that).
Restless leg syndrome (also known as Wittmaack–Ekbom syndrome) is a neurological condition that is characterized by an urgent feeling to move your legs. It's kind of like a constant inability to get comfortable, or a tickle that just won't stop. The symptoms aren't so bad when you're awake and moving around, but when you try to RELAX, say, read a book or go to sleep, the symptoms start and get more intense. This causes some major disruptions in sleep patterns, and people with Restless Leg Syndrome suffer from far less and worse sleep (very little deep sleep, etc) compared to people who don't have it. Even when they DO sleep, they suffer constant limb jerking. There are various drugs for treatment, usually targeting the dopamine or opioid systems. But all of the treatments are not really satisfactory, many have rebound effects, and dopamine and opioid systems are not things to mess with.
But one guy, a 41 year old man with a history of severe Restless Leg, found his own solution. He was on various drugs for Restless Leg, but every time he went off of them, of course the symptoms got worse. But he did find that one thing helped. Sex! He found that he got complete relief from symptoms of restless leg symptoms, and got some really great sleep (who doesn't, right?). Of course the doctors continued to prescribe him medication, but hey, his method worked just fine!!
But the question becomes, what causes this change in symptoms? Well the authors of this case study hypothesize dopamine and endogenous opioids themselves might take care of things. When you orgasm, you get brain release of dopamine (woo!!) and endogenous opioids, and it's possible that this could be enough to relieve symptoms (at least enough to help you sleep at night).
Of course, this is all speculation (it's only one guy, after all), and this remains to be tested. Even if the masturbation (or sex) DOES work, whether or not it's the dopamine or the opioids that are helping remains to be seen. But in the meantime, though no one would want someone with Restless Leg to go off their medication...it might be worth trying the sex and seeing what happens. As an additional...therapy. I mean, what can it hurt?
Marin LF, Felicio AC, & Prado GF (2011). Sexual intercourse and masturbation: Potential relief factors for restless legs syndrome? Sleep medicine, 12 (4) PMID: 21377419