Scientists have found a congestion cure that's cheaper than drugs and just as effective: satisfying sex.
Having an orgasm during sex was found to clear blocked noses just as well as over-the-counter decongestants, for an hour at least, according to a study published in the Ear, Nose & Throat Journal.
The research team received an Ig Nobel Prize, an award that celebrates quirky scientific research, this September.
Lead researcher Olcay Cem Bulut, a professor and ear, nose, and throat doctor at the SLK Clinics in Germany, told Insider he developed a hunch based on "self-observation" and recruited some colleagues to learn more.
They don't yet know how exactly orgasms unblock the nose, but Bulut told Insider "the combination of sexual arousal, excitement, physical activity, and the climax at the end can possibly help to improve nasal breathing."
Exercise and hormonal changes are known to have a short-term effect on how people breathe through their noses, but this is the first study to investigate the effect of sexual activity on nasal breathing.
Participants tested their breathing before and after sex
Bulut and colleagues recruited eighteen heterosexual couples for the study. They made sure none of the participants had histories of nasal problems, and also specified that both partners needed to achieve orgasm for the data to be valid.
The couples tested their own nasal function with two methods: a self-rating scale and a device that measures nasal flow. They assessed themselves before and after sex one day, then did the same tests after using nasal decongestant spray the following day.
With both interventions, the couples tested themselves immediately after, then again 30 minutes, an hour, and three hours later. Their nasal breathing improved comparably for an hour after sex and taking medicine, but the nasal spray offered better long-term relief.
In an interview with The Guardian, Bulut said some of the data may have been compromised post-orgasm — "I think some people couldn't focus on the device," he said.
There are a few limitations to the study: first off, there were only 36 participants, and all of them were healthcare workers. Also, as Bulut underscored, the data collection was not entirely reliable post-coitus.
Further research could investigate whether masturbation offers similar benefits, but no one so far has agreed to give up self-love to be in the control group, Bulut told Insider.
If future studies support these initial findings, orgasm could eventually be prescribed to treat headaches related to sinus problems as well, the authors noted. We'll be staying tuned for updates on this wonder drug.