Next time your wife complaints about migraine pain, don't think of it as an excuse for not cooking food, for the most common type of headache that sends patients running to their doctor's office is more common in women than men, says a new study.
Migraines occur when constricting blood vessels in the brain cause intense, recurring vascular headaches.
AdvertisementApproximately three out of four migraine sufferers are women and researchers have often cited hormones as a possible explanation.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over half of migraines in women transpire right before, during or after a woman has her menstrual period.
And while some women experience migraines throughout their cycle, menstrual-related migraines could be one trigger of the condition.
Right before a woman's cycle begins, the levels of oestrogen and progesterone drop sharply.
Such a drop in hormone levels may initiate migraine headaches because oestrogen is known to control brain chemicals that affect pain sensation in women.
"Like in all neurological diseases, a combination of genetics and environment play a role. One environmental factor is oestrogen but a genetic predisposition has been firmly established," said Richard Pearl, MD, a clinical neurologist in Suffolk County, N.Y.
While hormones cannot give a clear picture behind the phenomenon, a recent study has revealed that women with a history of migraines may be less likely to develop breast cancer than other women.
As breast cancer is linked to higher lifetime exposure to oestrogen, the fact that migraines are more common when there is a drop in oestrogen could support the hormone theory.