According to the Migraine Research Foundation, 25% of US households include a person who regularly gets migraines. A good majority of those individuals are women. In fact, migraines are three times more common in women than men, and migraines affect over 30% of women over a lifetime.
Migraines Are Different From Regular Headaches
A migraine is very different from regular headaches, and if you have ever had one, you already know that. A migraine is a medical condition causing intense and throbbing pain sometimes on one side of the head, but it can affect both sides. The pain can be in the temples, back of the head, or behind the eyes or even ears.
In addition to the intense pain, symptoms may include the following:
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Abdominal pain
- Temporary loss of vision
- Spots and flashing lights
Migraines can last a few hours or even days, and they interfere with daily activities. In a very recent study, headache disorders are the leading cause of disability among women under the age of 50.
Why Are Women More Prone To Migraines?
There are several reasons:
A Woman’s Brain Anatomy
Yes, it’s true, but before you begin to speculate, let’s give you the facts. Women have slightly thicker gray matter in their brains and spinal cord. Recent studies show it is thicker in the posterior insula, or pain processing center, and the precuneus, or consciousness portion of the brain.
There is greater activation of emotional pain processing in the brains of women compared to men making women more prone to depression and anxiety. All this can lead to migraines.
Fluctuating estrogen and other hormones contribute to the development of migraines. Consider the fact that migraines are more prevalent in males when young, but once puberty and menstruation begins in girls with rising estrogen, the prevalence changes.
Estrogen regulates the female reproductive system and it also controls chemicals in the brain that affect the sensation of pain. There are constant fluctuations of this hormone during a woman’s life: before menstruation, during pregnancy, after giving birth, during perimenopause and menopause, and when taking oral contraceptives.
So Now What?
If you suffer with migraines, now you know some of the reasons why they affect you more than the male population (although men certainly do also suffer from migraines too). But now what? Now it’s time to get relief from migraine pain.
There are treatments available if you seek them out. Contact Puget Sound Neurology at (253) 284-4488 to get a treatment plan tailored just for you at our office in Tacoma, WA.