The relationship between sex hormones and migraines in men
01/02/2019 // Zoey Sky // Views

At least one out of seven individuals around the world have recurrent migraines. This condition involves severe pulsating headaches and increased sensitivity to light and sound. Different symptoms may also accompany recurrent migraines. In a study published in the journal Neurology, researchers tried to examine the connection between sex hormones and recurrent migraines in men.

Estrogen, testosterone, and migraines

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.

Fast facts on migraines

A migraine is a neurological condition linked to various symptoms.

  • A migraine is often linked to intense, debilitating headaches.
  • Migraine symptoms can include difficulty speaking, nausea, numbness or tingling, sensitivity to light and sound, and vomiting.
  • Migraine headaches are diagnosed based on an individual's clinical history, their reported symptoms, and by ruling out other causes.
  • The two most common categories of migraine headaches are those without aura (previously called "common migraines") and those with aura (previously called "classic migraines").
  • Some people may start experiencing migraines in their childhood while others may only suffer from migraines in early adulthood.
  • Women are more likely than men to suffer from migraines.
  • Family history is one of the most common risk factors for migraines.

Read articles about research findings on men's health and other similar topics at

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