Single isolated male figure in a sea of other figures with a scribble hovering above his head representing a silent migraine.

Men and Migraine

Migraine is a neurological disorder in the brain. It affects almost two to three times more women than men. I've found that the majority of information out there, from articles to research studies, tend to focus more on women than men. I get that men are a minority among the hundreds of thousands that suffer from migraine and I’m fine with that. I believe talking about migraine and trying to get additional funding for research into migraine needs to be done, and I don’t mind if men get to exist on the fringes of it all as long as it’s being done. The sad part is that migraine is so difficult to treat whether you are male or female.

Hiding my migraine

In my experience, men are not very forthcoming when it comes to discussing illnesses. We tend to brush off the topic with most people. It’s as if illness is only discussed on a need to know basis. Maybe it’s because we feel vulnerable or weak if we actually take time and have a real discussion about what ails us, but with migraine especially that shouldn’t be the case. I first began talking about my disease with those closest to me like my wife and kids. The next discussion was when I knew it was time to see my doctor, but for the most part, I kept my illness hidden away.

More common in women

I began researching migraine after too many doctor visits and too many pills failed to provide any relief and compassion for this horrible disease. Still, I pressed onward and since my migraines were episodic, I kept them hidden from nearly everyone outside my immediate family. In my searching for answers and relief, I was amazed at how differently migraine manifested itself in people. The majority of information I found was geared towards women though, and while still interesting to me, it wasn’t always applicable. I was pretty sure my migraines were not hormonal and I knew they weren’t due to my monthly cycle! I did, however, read that estrogen can play a role in migraine in men, especially if your estrogen levels are elevated.

Learning to share about migraine

The fact of the matter is that migraine in men is still swept under the rug in far too many cases. You can attribute this to the horrible stigma that surrounds migraine, or maybe it's simply because men, for the most part, don’t want to appear weak due to this disease. I spent too much of my time and energy trying to just power through migraines and all its symptoms. I can see now that that was foolish.

What I should have been doing was seeking out qualified doctors and developing a support network to help me when migraine had me laid out. I’ve become my own advocate and my wife has joined forces with me. She acts as my voice when I’m unable to articulate what is going on with my condition to others, especially doctors. I’m happy to say I have a good network of doctors who listen to me and have committed to take part in managing my illness. I talk to others frequently about migraine, and I do my best to educate others about migraine disease and all that accompanies it. It is far more than just a headache.

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