Researchers say that for sufferers of the neurological disorder restless legs syndrome, a little self-pleasure could be just what the doctor ordered.
In a recent letter published by the medical journal Sleep Medicine, Luis Marin and colleagues at the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, report the case of a patient who, with masturbation and sexual intercourse, eased the symptoms of his RLS.
"The patient reported that he would get complete relief from RLS symptoms, granting him normal sleep following sexual intercourse or masturbation," the letter read.
RLS is characterized by the constant urge to move the limbs. It afflicts, to varying degrees, between 7 and 10 percent of Americans and Europeans.
California-based sleep specialist and RLS expert Dr. Mark Buchfuhrer says he's encountered at least one to two dozen similar cases -- and estimates that possibly "10 times as many" of his own patients, not surprisingly, decline to discuss their masturbation-induced relief.
But he also cautions against over-reacting to a single case study.
"Since we don't know what causes restless legs, it's very hard to speculate what makes it better," Buchfuhrer told AOL News.
One possible explanation, according to the letter, is that the chemical release of dopamine in the brain triggered by masturbation and sexual intercourse could ease the symptoms, an idea that Buchfuhrer has briefly discussed in his own writings.
"The theory that the release of dopamine with orgasm helps is a very good one and may even be the correct one," Buchfuhrer said. "I'd say that's a very reasonable and plausible theory, but it's no more than a theory."
Buchfuhrer says he has also encountered cases when masturbation and sexual activity have caused negative effects for RLS patients. So while the dopamine theory is a good one, the five-knuckle shuffle is probably unlikely to catch on as the latest RLS wonder treatment.
As the doctor put it, "It's not something I routinely ask about."
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