Scientists Have Discovered Why Women Get Migraines More Than Men
If you suffer with migraines then we feel for you. They can literally ruin your whole day and leave you wanting to crawl into bed, with the curtains jammed shut and no human interaction until you feel yourself again.
And regular migraine sufferers may have long suspected that us women are afflicted more than men with the crippling condition - and they would be right. A study in 2012 found that, one in four women has had a migraine at some point and it affects three times more women than men.
It also found that once girls begin to menstruate there is a dramatic increase in the number of migraines they have due to hormones fluctuating up and down.
And now a new study has looked into the reason women suffer migraines more than men. The study found that oestrogen levels and other sex hormones means more women suffer the condition.
The findings of the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, has also provided scientists with an encouraging new route to personalise treatments for patients who suffer with migraines.
So there may be hope in sight ladies.
The researchers evidence is based on lab trials and animal studies and they found that sex hormones affect the cells around the trigeminal nerve and connected blood vessels in the head.
For women of a reproductive age oestrogens are at their highest levels and this may sensitise these cells to migraine triggers.
Study corresponding author Professor Antonio Ferrer-Montiel, of the Universitas Miguel Herná¡ndez in Spain, said: "We can observe significant differences in our experimental migraine model between males and females and are trying to understand the molecular correlates responsible for these differences.
"Although this is a complex process, we believe that modulation of the trigeminovascular system by sex hormones plays an important role that has not been properly addressed."
Professor Ferrer-Montiel and his team reviewed decades of literature on sex hormones, migraine sensitivity and cells' responses to migraine triggers.
They were able to identify the role of specific hormones and how some hormones such as testosterone seem to protect against migraines, while others such as prolactin appear to actually make migraines worse.
Professor Ferrer-Montiel said they do so by making the cells' ion channels, which control the cells' reactions to outside stimuli, more or less vulnerable to migraine triggers.
He argued that further research is needed on some hormones to confirm their role in migraines.
However, their study revealed that, oestrogen stands out as a key candidate for understanding why migraines occur.
Oestrogen was first considered as a migraine trigger years ago, when scientists questioned why the condition is more common in women who're menstruating.
Professor Ferrer-Montiel said that the role of oestrogen and other hormones in migraines is complex and a lot more research is needed to understand it.
The researchers have concluded that future studies should focus on the connection between menstrual hormones and migraines. The current work relies on in vitro and animal models, which they said isn't easy to translate to human migraine sufferers.
Professor Ferrer-Montiel and his colleagues intend to continue their research using pre-clinical, human-based models, which better reflect real patients.
He added: "If successful, we will contribute to better personalised medicine for migraine therapy."
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