Why Women Are More Susceptible to Migraines


Experts reveal women are more prone or sensitive to migraine headaches than men. Though no particular research compares susceptibility or sensitivity of men or women to headaches, women are said to have an increased likelihood of migraine attacks compared to men. There are several triggers for these attacks including caffeine and alcohol. Let’s find out the triggers, the factors and other reasons why women suffer from migraine headaches more than women.

  • Size

Some experts argue that the small size of women compared to men could be one factor. Women are smaller than men and therefore more likely to be affected by alcohol and caffeine.

  • Family history

Genes may well contribute to the susceptibility women possess when it comes to migraines. Migraines seem to run in the family and if you have a family member with this condition, there is an increased likelihood that the woman would have it too. Women who have close relatives with migraines or have a good number of relatives with migraines are more likely to experience the headaches themselves. Experts are led to believe that migraines may have genetic links. This disproves the common notion that physical weakness is a contributor to migraine headaches.

  • Hormones

The American Headache Society Committee reveals that before or up until pubertal stage, boys and girls report the same characteristics,  number or intensity of migraines. After puberty, however, the results change. This has led experts to reveal that hormones might play a crucial role in migraines among women. Estrogen, a hormone that begins to be dominant during puberty is speculated to be one reason why migraines occur more frequently in women than in men. Migraines also seem to coincide with the fluctuations of estrogen during the menstrual cycle. Often, women experience these types of headaches before or during their menstrual periods, the periods when estrogen levels are low.

Around 60-70% of women report a relationship between their migraines and monthly cycle.

  • Problems with the Central Nervous System

Another factor experts look into is underlying problems with the central nervous system. According to some experts, there are certain “triggers” that cause pain and the release of neuropeptides (brain chemicals). Nitric oxide is one trigger; when there is too much nitric oxide in the brain, the nerve pathways are being activated, which in turn causes pain.

Migraine headaches are also thought to be a disorder of cortical and brainstem excitability. Excitability is a term used to describe an increased activity of the brain. In other words, the brain is working too hard. This state of the brain creates waves that move through the brain causing pain. The excitability of the brain also brings changes in pressure. After the excitation phase, nerve cell depression follows. The change in the brain’s state results in  changes in blood flow as well; an increase at first, followed by a decrease. There is evidence to suggest that women are more sensitive to these changes.

Migraine medications are now focused on blocking this to relieve the pain. Memantine is an example of one drug said to exhibit blocking properties against these changes in pressure and blood flow.

This article on lifestyle and wellness is written by Karen Lakers, author of numerous articles on makeup, makeup tools such as Susan Joy Design Brushes, women’s health, beauty, lifestyle and wellness.


  1. Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks|

  2. I see it a lot in my practice. Way more women than men suffer from headaches. Some men have even told me that they don’t believe in headaches (until they actually experience one.)

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