Several studies have already implied that the sex hormone estrogen increases migraine risk in women, but its possible ties to the risk of migraines in men have yet to be fully explored. The researchers involved in this study believe that analyzing the factors that cause migraines can help them develop effective strategies for treating the condition.
For the study, researchers observed non-obese men younger than 75 years old. The volunteers were chosen based on data from a migraine questionnaire and follow-up telephone interviews.
None of the participants were taking medications. The volunteers also didn't have conditions that could affect the likelihood of headaches or levels of sex hormones, like high blood pressure or those taking hormone supplements.
Overall, 17 men with migraines and 22 controls took part in the study. The participants were then separated into two groups: the migraine sufferers, or those with or without lead-up symptoms like changes in urination, cravings, fatigue, or stiffness, and otherwise healthy controls.
The researchers determined the participants' estrogen and testosterone levels using blood samples. They also took blood samples from men in the control group on the first day of the study at the following times: 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., and 6 p.m.
The team of researchers also gathered blood samples from the migraine sufferers at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. at least three days after their most recent migraine. Blood samples were also taken from the migraine sufferers every day until the next episode occurred. (Related: Try these natural cures to ease migraines and headache pain.)
The study findings revealed that the male migraine sufferers had higher estrogen levels. The researchers also noted that the ratio of testosterone-to-estrogen was lower in migraine sufferers compared to the controls, with a ratio of 4:1 to 5:1.
Before they suffered from a migraine attack, the men who reported lead-up symptoms had 65 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) higher levels of testosterone and 23 nmol/L higher levels of estrogen than the migraine sufferers who didn't report any lead-up symptoms.
Additionally, the symptoms of testosterone deficiency were more common in migraine sufferers. The participants with migraines also had a higher tendency of experiencing more severe symptoms caused by this particular deficiency.
The researchers concluded that higher estrogen levels and lower testosterone-to-estrogen ratios are linked to a higher risk of migraines in men. They also posited that since the sample size for this study was small, more extensive studies can help confirm and build on these findings by looking into factors like the effect of estrogen on the duration, frequency, and severity of migraines in male participants.
A migraine is a neurological condition linked to various symptoms.
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