Last night I had an opportunity to discuss migraines with a gentleman who has suffered with this disease for over 50 years!
He is lucky by some standards. For most of his life he has averaged two migraines a year.
He was diagnosed with classical migraine with aura at age 14. He has used medications to prevent and treat migraines for most of his life.
He still gets migraines during times of extreme stress in his life, although he has found that recently they are less intense. We discussed the importance of staying hydrated and well nourished during stressful situations to try and stave off the migraine attack.
It was a brief conversation, but it gave me a lot to think about.
Testosterone Induced Migraines?
Migraines are different for men than for women. In their teens, men are twice as likely to have migraines as women, while as adults, women are three times more likely to have migraines than men. It seems that many men grow out of their migraines as they become adults, and women grow into them.
Hormone levels could be to blame, but the hormones are different for men and women.
Many women suffer from estrogen-induced migraines, while some men may be suffering from testosterone-induced migraines.
After thinking it over, it occurred to me that testosterone is the main risk factor in this gentleman’s migraines. His disease started when his testosterone first started to spike as a teenager. As his T-levels have declined in recent years (I’m assuming here) his migraines became less severe.
Interesting thing to note: stress increases testosterone levels in the blood. It is one of the hormones released by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism.
What I Learned About Migraines Today
It’s fairly well known that migraines in women are often related to hormone fluctuations. It never occurred to me that men’s migraines could be hormone related, too. From this man’s story, I think it is a real possibility.
Men’s hormone levels don’t cycle up and down predictably the way they do for women. But the levels do change, spiking at puberty, and then declining with age. Lifestyle and environmental factors can further change hormone levels for both men and women. Stress effects hormones in everyone.
Women at least have menopause to change our hormone cycles, and many women find their migraines go away when the change happens. Men don’t have the advantage (?!) of a drastic change in hormones sometime in their middle age. For men whose migraines are related to hormones, they may be stuck with a lifelong condition.