Sex Migraine Is For Real: Loyola Neurologist

Migraine Sex

Migraines & Headaches After Sex (HAS) More Common Than Reported (1)

‘Not tonight honey, I have a headache’ may not be an excuse in avoidance after all,  because for some, especially men, migraines and headaches develop after sexual intercourse, making them avoid it. It is estimated that only as many as 1% of migraning adults actually report experiencing migraines or severe headaches after they have had sex. (2) The real percentage is considered much higher but generally goes under-reported since there is a feeling of discomfort talking about it on the part of the patients who suffer this type of a migraine and doctors who should be asking if the patients suffer this type of an ordeal.

According to Dr. Jose Biller who is the chair of Loyola’s Department of Neurology, and is certified in Headache Medicine by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties, “Many people who experience headaches during sexual activity are too embarrassed to tell their physicians, and doctors often don’t ask. Headaches associated with sexual activity can be extremely painful and scary. They also can be very frustrating, both to the individual suffering the headache and to the partner.” (3)

Though a fair percentage of headaches associated with sex (HAS) are considered benign and not life-threatening, others need running neurological diagnostics to look at and rule out dangerous causes such as brain aneurysm, stroke, cervical artery dissection or subdural hematoma etc. It is confirmed that HAS are 3-4 times more likely to occur in men than women.

Basically, the study has identified 3 types of HAS:

Type

Area Intensity Timing

1

Head and Neck Dull

Before Orgasm

2

Back of the head Intense Pain lasting hours

During Orgasm

3

Half Head, Any side Mild To Extreme Pain

After Sex

The cause for the third type of HAS has been identified as internal leaking of spinal fluid extending from lower portions of the skull to lower spine. The pain worsens when a person stands as the brain sags down. Relief is felt when the person lies down.

The different types of HAS require different types of treatment and management. However, the best bet still is on exercising regularly, keeping weight under control, not consuming too much alcohol and reducing exposure to known migraine triggers.

SOURCES

  1. Image Credit: Couple Lying In Bed Back-to-Back Stock Photo; Image by Ambro; Free Digital Photos; Web June 2014; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/CouplesPartners_g216-Couple_Lying_In_Bed_BacktoBack_p76440.html
  2. Headaches during sex likely more common than reported; Science Daily News; Web June 2014; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140610100303.htm
  3. Sex headaches: More common than you’d think; Loyola Medicine Publication; Web June 2014; http://loyolamedicine.org/newswire/news/sex-headaches-more-common-youd-think

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Exercise just as good as drugs at preventing migraines, Swedish study suggests: Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Oct. 10, 2011) — Although exercise is often prescribed as a treatment for migraine, there has not previously been sufficient scientific evidence that it really works. However, research from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has now shown that exercise is just as good as drugs at preventing migraines.

Doctors use a variety of different methods to prevent migraines these days: on the pharmaceutical side a drug based on the substance topiramate has proved effective, while non-medical treatments with well-documented effects include relaxation exercises.

No previous evidence 

Exercise is also frequently recommended as a treatment, though there has not been sufficient scientific evidence that it really has any effect on migraine patients.

In a randomized controlled study researchers from the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy have now analysed how well exercise works as a preventative treatment for migraines relative to relaxation exercises and topiramate.

40 minutes of exercise
Published in the journal Cephalalgia, the study involved 91 migraine patients, a third of whom were asked to exercise for 40 minutes three times a week under the supervision of a physiotherapist, with another third doing relaxation exercises, and the final third given topiramate. The study lasted for a total of three months, during which the patients’ migraine status, quality of life, aerobic capacity and level of phyical activity were evaluated before, during and after their treatment. Follow-ups were then carried out after three and six months.

Exercise just as effective
The results show that the number of migraines fell in all three groups. Interestingly, there was no difference in the preventative effect between the three treatments.
“Our conclusion is that exercise can act as an alternative to relaxations and topiramate when it comes to preventing migraines, and is particularly appropriate for patients who are unwilling or unable to take preventative medicines,” says Emma Varkey, the physiotherapist and doctoral student at the Sahlgrenska Academy who carried out the study.

Journal Reference:
E. Varkey, A. Cider, J. Carlsson, M. Linde. Exercise as migraine prophylaxis: A randomized study using relaxation and topiramate as controls. Cephalalgia, 2011; DOI: 10.1177/0333102411419681


Migraineur, a martial artist?

What I mean to say is that it is important for all of us to get physical exercise but it is imperative for the migraineur. Dopamine is released when we enter the moderate intensity of any exercise session. Its secretion is linked to increased heart rate and blood pressure. 

It may seem like a tall order for someone who may be migraining more than once a week, but it is all the more important for them to get some exercise on the days they are fine – even if it is just the 15 minutes. I have heard migraineurs say, that they are on a catch-up mode (with work) on the days they are pain-free. I say, catch-up with your body first. 

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Migraines In Women

Continuing on the same note of my earlier post of 28th November, 2008 (De-mystifying Migraines In Women)….

Any aerobic activity done for a minimum of thrice a week for at least half an hour will tell positively on the texture of your migraines. Yes, you heard me right. I am talking of the frequency and intensity of migraines. It is banal to come across the ‘thrice a week for 30 minutes’ formula, from health articles on the web to the instructor in the gym who aim to pick on your fat. But it has other not so famous but greatly positive side effects, like the one I mentioned. There are 5 ways in which aerobic activities help us reduce our migraine intensity. 

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