Looking at photographs of your loved ones can kill pain, according to a new study. Researchers found that looking at photos triggered so many positive emotions, they were able to physically dull pain.
The research involved 28 women, who were given heat-pain tests where a tiny patch of skin is touched with heat until it hurts. MRIs were taken to test the women’s tolerance for pain.
While the women were subjected to the heat test they were instructed to hold their partner’s hand without seeing their face. They then held a stranger’s hand. Then they were checked for their response to photos of strangers and afterwards to those of their loved ones. The greatest tolerance to pain was found when the women were looking at the photos of their loved ones.
Neuroscientist Jarred Younger, who worked on the experiment, found that pain was reduced by between 36% and 44%, with intense pain reduced by up to 13%.
“The reduction of pain is associated with higher, cortical parts of the brain,” Jarred told the Daily Mail. “But love-induced painkillers are much more associated with the reward centres. It appears to involve more primitive aspects of the brain, activating deep structures that may block pain at a spinal level – similar to how opioid (drugs in the heroin family) analgesics work.”
So when you’re in labour, all you need to do is look at your partner’s face. Though, you might be blaming him for all the pain you’re in right now!
Find out more about your birth partner’s role in labour.