Migraine is the third most common disease around the world. Its global prevalence is that of one in seven people. Every year, the Migraine Trust organizes the Migraine Awareness Week. It begins from on the first Sunday of September. The aim is to raise awareness of the condition and highlight its impact.
A latest report reveals that women bear a significant amount of the migraine burden as compared to men. This is because of the higher prevalence of oestrogen and other hormones in women. The study from the Society for Women’s Health Research is published in the August issue of the Journal of Women’s Health.
Women More Prone to the Disease
The researchers highlighted how the disease differs between women and men. The aim was to decrease the substantial health and economic burden of migraine on individuals and society.
The study suggests that Migraine is three times more common in women as compared to men. It reaches peak prevalence between 30 to 39 years of age. Generally, during this age, many women are balancing work, family and social obligations. Thus, women are more likely to experience longer and more intense migraine attacks. They also report more migraine-associated symptoms and comorbid conditions.
Hormones like oestrogen play a large role in the development of migraine. They are possible contributors to observed sex differences in the disease
Another research in Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences also studied these differences. Professor Antonio Ferrer-Montiel from the Universitas Miguel Hernández, Spain, explains, “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.”
Gender Different Approach
Furthermore, women and men take migraine differently. Women are more likely to consult a healthcare provider. This may be because women generally experience worse symptoms. On the other hand, men are reluctant to do so because feminization of migraine makes them hesitant to seek help.
Understanding these gender differences can help overcome patient and provider bias in the diagnosis and treatment of migraine. However, despite the clear differences in migraine between women and men, there has been limited research exploring them.
The innovation in migraine has been taking place at a very slow pace. There have been no treatments specially designed to prevent migraine, until earlier this year. The study determined gaps in knowledge and priority areas, to promote advancement in migraine research and patient care. It suggests warranting further attention to improve health outcomes for both the sexes. The priority areas as mentioned by the researchers are:
- Increase awareness of migraine for better identification and treatment
- Improve quality-of-life measures by proper assessment of disability
- Comprehend impact of migraine on workplace productivity
- Destigmatize migraine to increase rates of those seeking and continuing care
- Expand current animal models to understand sex differences for basic
Megha Thadani is an Intern with Shethepeople.tv