Women’s Health: Why Are Migraines More Common In Women?

Migraines — those painful, throbbing headaches — are known to be more common in women. But why?

A new study in the journal Brain shows it may have something to do with sex differences in brain structure.

Harvard Medical School researchers conducted their study in 44 men and women, some of whom suffered from migraines.

They found that women’s brains had thicker gray matter in the posterior insula (key in processing pain) and the precuneus brain regions (which gives the feeling of a sense of self), ScienceNow reported. The researchers also observed that migraineintensity seemed to be equal for both men and women. But for women, the intensity was more unpleasant than it was for the men, according to ScienceNow.

Researchers also conducted an experiment where they subjected the study participants to heat, and found that the brains of women who have migrainesresponded differently to the pain than other people’s brains, ScienceNow reported.

“The results support the notion of a ‘sex phenotype’ in migraine and indicate that brains are differentially affected by migraine in females compared with males,” the researchers wrote in the study.

Recently, a small study from Norwegian researchers published in the journalHeadache showed that migraines may affect more people than was previously believed.

In that study, 245 neurologists were surveyed about their migraines. Thirty-five percent reported having had a migraine at least once, while 26 percent said they’ve had one in the last year alone, Reuters reported.

However, the amount of migraines reported by the neurologists was significantly higher — double, in fact — than reported by the general Norwegian population, Reuters reported.

Plus, another recent study suggests that there may be certain genes that maypredispose a person to have migraines. That research, published in the journal Nature Genetics, pinpointed four genes in particular, and confirmed another two genes, that seem responsible for susceptibility to migraine without aura.



  1. hmmmm, I have an interesting theory that its also tied to why they are SO temperature sensitive, too…lol

  2. Reblogged this on Honestgoodadvice's Blog.

  3. endlessencounters says:

    I have been getting migraines my entire life but I had no idea that it was possibly tied in to being female. All my life my doctors have been telling me that they’re caused by the humidity in the air. As a child, I used to get migraines so bad that I would get dizzy and become physically ill. My mom took me to a specialist to see what the issue was and all he said was that I had become “overheated” from the humidity and that I should refrain from eating chocolate or drinking Coke because the caffeine only contributed to the problem. Nowadays, I’ve read that caffeine can actually be good for treating headache and migraine pain, which is why it is a key ingredient in Midol. I’m not sure if this is true, but I do find that sometimes when I have a migraine coffee or tea can be very comforting.

  4. I too have suffered from migraines all my life, as have my sister, and my mother. I am not a fan of chocolate but I always crave it before a migraine. My specialist told me that there is ergotamine(constricts blood vessels) in chocolate, and it’s also in some migraine pills which could explain my craving. He also told me to put my feet in hot water and an icepack on my head which does help soothe it. He also told me to drink plenty of water as that can help too. 🙂

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