Most of us have been plagued by an awful headache or migraine more than once in our lives, but these issues tend to affect women more than men - and science can explain why.
According to Dr. Andrew Charles, director of the Headache Research and Treatment Program at the UCLA Department of Neurology, women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men. This is due to hormone fluctuation in the brain surrounding their menstrual cycle.
Another study, published in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, based on lab trialsand animal studies, found that sex hormones affect the cells around the trigeminal nerve and connected bloody vessels. For women of a reproductive age, oestrogen levels are at their highest, which mens these cells are more prone to migraine triggers.
"We can observe significant differences in our experimental migraine model between males and females and are trying to understand the molecular correlates responsible for these differences. Although this is a complex process, we believe that modulation of the trigeminovascular system by sex hormones plays an important role that has not been properly addressed," study author Professor Anotonio Ferrer-Montiel says.
Professor Ferrer-Montiel and his team found that some hormones such as testosterone protect against migraines, whereas others such as prolactin actually make migraines worse. But oestrogen stands out as a key candidate for understanding why migraines and headaches happen.
More research is needed, which Professor Ferrer-Montiel and his team continue to work on to find more personalised medicine targeting migraines and headaches.