Migraine’s Impact on Women

New research unveiled at #AHS18SF highlights how migraine affects women in 5 key ways

Of the more than 37 million Americans who are living with migraine, 28 million are women. Studies have shown that women experience migraine differently than men, and their episodes of migraine often lasting longer. At the 60th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco, leading headache specialists and migraine experts presented clinical studies that deepen our understanding of the effects of episodic and chronic migraine on five aspects of women’s lives. Read on for their findings.

#1 Family

A study titled “Results of the Chronic Migraine Epidemiology and Outcomes (CaMEO)” showed that those experiencing chronic migraine are more likely to experience negative effects on the family, including strains on personal relationships and detrimental disruptions to family life. In general, the experience of migraine placed heavier burden on all members of the family. The study’s findings revealed that respondents with chronic migraine were significantly more likely than those with episodic migraine to delay having children or having fewer children.

#2 Children

In the study “An Observational Study of the Burden of Parental Migraine on Children,” researchers examined children ages 11-17 who were living with a parent who experiences migraine. Through separate online surveys, parents and children answered questions relating to demographics, physical symptoms and the Parental Illness Impact Scale-Revised (PIIS-R) parent form. The study’s findings reveal that the greatest burden of migraine was on the parent-child relationship and made an emotional impact on children.

#3 Menstrual Cycle

Based on the 2017 Migraine in America Symptoms and Treatment (MAST) Study, researchers divided women with migraine into three groups based on their relationship to head pain and menses. Women were divided into one of the following groups: Pure Menstrual Migraine, Menstrual Related Migraine and Non-Menstrual Related Migraine. Then, researchers studied the relationship of migraine group to time to peak headache pain intensity, functional impairment and pain. The study revealed that women with Non-Menstrual Related Migraine were more likely to experience peak pain intensity, peak functional impairment, and more overall pain interference within one hour of headache onset compared to women in the other groups. This research may enable health care providers to develop individualized treatment plans for women.

#4 Pregnancy

Researchers assessed medications prescribed for pregnant women experiencing acute migraine. They retrospectively reviewed medication administration records of 72 pregnant women who received neurology consultations between 2009 and 2014. The majority of pregnant women received acute migraine-specific medications considered to be relatively safe throughout the duration of pregnancy, however, there was variation in treatment choice and sequence, and several low-risk options to treat acute migraine were underutilized. The findings suggest a need for a guided, standardized treatment of acute migraine in pregnancy.

#5 Menopause

In this study, experts investigated patterns of migraine in women at their menopausal age (40-60 years old) who also experience migraine. Researchers concluded that 60% of women with a history of migraine, developed migraine pattern changes at the menopausal age, mostly when their status was peri-menopausal or post-menopausal. Based on MRI scans, the investigators concluded that abnormalities in hormone production were more frequent in patients with new onset migraine. The identification of worsening or new onset migraine during the menopausal transition age may help the diagnosis and treatment of migraine for women during the menopausal transition.

The American Headache Society is committed to keeping its members up to date on the most innovative and meaningful advancements in the realm of headache medicine. The Society’s objectives are to promote the exchange of information and ideas concerning the causes and treatments of headache and related painful disorders, and to share and advance the work of its members. Learn more about the American Headache Society’s work and find out how you can become a member today.

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