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April 16, 2012 at 10:48 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Why Do Women Experience More Migraines Than Men?

By Brad Plaggemars More Blogs by This Author

We have all either heard or experienced a migraine. The pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and noises. Women, compared to men, suffer more migraines.

The Facts

One in four women has experienced a migraine once in their lifetime. It is also said that migraines affect three times more women than men. Why is that?

In the past, migraines were said to caused by women's inability to manage stress. Now, however, investigators have decided to further examine the factors that actually make a difference. Dr. Andrew Charles who directs the Headache Research and Treatment Program in the UCLA Department of Neurology says what happens in a migraine is a "spectacular neuro-physiological event". The event is caused by "bursts of electrical activity that start in the vision center of the brain". This is why migraines contain a "visual aura, those jagged lines or sparkling lights, that commonly occur in 20 to 30 percent of migraine patients." The activity in the brain travels in a wavelike formation across the brain's landscape, moving into areas that are responsible for controlling sensation.

Why Women?

According to researchers, there is one specific factor that triggers migraines, which explains why more women than men receive migraines. Neurologist Jan Lewis Brandes, who is the founder of the Nashville Neuroscience Group, claims that migraines can be provoked by hormonal fluctuation. In youths, boys more commonly experience migraines until girls begin menstruation. Once girls start menstruation their hormones begin to fluctuate which, in turn, dramatically increases the number of migraines they experience.

The leading miscreant is estrogen, although scientists believe that other hormones may also contribute.

Treating Migraines

There is no specific cure for migraines yet, however, there are a number of drugs designed to decrease the amount of pain and length of one. Other drugs reduce the frequency of migraines. At least half of all patients who have used treatment, claim that it is ineffective.

The Future

Researchers are actively working to find more treatment options and potential cures. Brandes says:

We've begun to see from researchers that the frequency of migraine attack is linked to permanent changes in the brain, and I think that changes the playing field for patients and those of us who take care of them. We really need to think carefully about how to control the frequency of attacks and really need to do it earlier rather than later.

Hopefully in the near future, a cure to migraines will be found.


Photo Credit:


Christos Tsoumplekas (Back again!)

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