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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.

Hidden illness

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.

Geared toward 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.

Strength in sharing

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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Peggy Artman moderator
    2 months ago

    @Tom Picermo,
    Thanks for sharing your perspective on your migraine disease. You are right – there aren’t enough men speaking up about their disease. Keep speaking up so other men will be inspired to share their information too!
    Peggy (Migraine.comTeam)

  • Tom Picerno moderator author
    2 months ago

    @Peggy Artman Thanks for the encouragement! I will continue to share migraine from my perspective as it helps to spread awareness. Tom(migraine.com team)

  • Ann
    2 months ago

    I’m so sorry to hear you’re suffering from this neurological disorder called Migraine. I have been suffering for over 60 years with it. I know it’s what’s called a women’s disorder and unfortunately that’s the main reason not much research was ever conducted on it. All drug trials and most research on health disorders were conducted with men as subjects and on male diseases. Women were never used in drug trials and their maladies hardly ever researched so it stands to reason why a women’s disorder was never given much credence. Many well- known men suffered from Migraines such as Thomas Jefferson (some historians debate this) because, as you know, there is and was a stigma attached to migraine.

    I want to thank you and all the men who have come forward to acknowledge your participation in this terrible malady. It can only help all of us. Bravo!

  • Tom Picerno moderator author
    2 months ago

    @Ann thank you for your kind words. Silent diseases are so stigmatized. I do what I can to provide relevant information and experiences from my perspective. Men are definitely the minority when it comes to migraine, but more men are starting to speak up! Tom (migraine.com team)

  • Peggy Artman moderator
    2 months ago

    Ann,
    Thank you for sharing this information. I hadn’t realized that men may be more stigmatized over this disease than women.
    Peggy (Migraine.com Team)

  • glenhe
    2 months ago

    If you’ll permit me to join this most unfortunate fraternity. I am 52 years old and experienced my first migraine when I was 9. If you’re in the throes of an attack now, I’ll do the math for you. I’ve had chronic migraine for 43 years. For most of this time, I believed I was one of the unlucky handful of men afflicted. I have come to understand, however, that indeed the statistics often cited do not accurately reflect the number of male migraineurs. Though it is a measure of comfort to know I do not exist on a lonely island, I express my sympathy to all of you suffer, sometimes in silence, as well … as this is not a condition I would wish on my worst enemy. This is not a brotherhood of which I am pleased to be a part.

  • Tom Picerno moderator author
    2 months ago

    @glenhe I recall having my first migraine attacks in my teenage years. They were episodic back then, but still was enough to stop me in my tracks! I’ve been chronic for about five years now and I’ve been forced into retirement. It is a hard life living with migraine for sure. I echo your sentiment and wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Tom(migraine.com team)

  • Peggy Artman moderator
    2 months ago

    glenhe, it is indeed an unfortunate fraternity. Please know we are here for you no matter who you are. In fact the more men that are willing to speak up, maybe something can be done about the statistics being narrowed down to recognize more men.
    Peggy (Migraine.com Team)

  • jmedlin
    3 months ago

    Pretty sure my dad too suffers from migraine. His whole complexion changes , when I was a child he would call them his “thumpy dumpers” but never sought a doctors advice . Two of my brothers have been diagnosed with cluster headaches or as they colloquially get called suicide headaches. I’m pretty sure the numbers of men suffering are not accurate as many do not come forward. But I’m pretty sure migraine is strongly genetic.

  • Peggy Artman moderator
    2 months ago

    jmedlin, Migraine is a neurological disease that is often hereditary. It seems that men don’t want to talk about their migraine attacks because it makes them feel week. Having migraine disease is not a weakness. Thanks for being authentic in sharing your story.
    Peggy (Migraine.com Team)

  • SteveIndy
    3 months ago

    Thanks for sharing. I have been suffering with migraines as a man for 27 years. I agree – many of the articles are written by women, and somewhat focused on female aspects of the disease. I know there are a lot of men out there that have migraines. We need to step up and take part in helping each other.

  • Peggy Artman moderator
    2 months ago

    SteveIndy,
    Thanks so much for reaching out on this topic. It does seem that men aren’t represented enough when it comes to talking about migraine. It may have to take more men being brave enough to speak up! I wish you well on your migraine journey.
    Peggy (Migraine.com Team)

  • DinaMay
    3 months ago

    I applause you for speaking up, Tom Picerno! I’m pretty sure I inherited migraines from my grandfather. He never was diagnosed and wouldn’t have gone to a doctor anyway, especially for something as “trivial” as a “headache.” But those “headaches” were bad enough he would go to bed and stay there for days. Certainly sounds more like migraine than “just a headache.” And unfortunately one of my nephews has migraines as well.

    In fact I often wonder if it’s really true that migraine affects more women than it does men. Or is it just that the men feel obligated to carry on as if nothing was wrong?

  • Tom Picerno moderator author
    2 months ago

    @DinaMay thanks for sharing your experience. Men are odd creatures and I think more men than you hear about are having migraines but never get to the doctor to vet out the cause of their headache. I spent many years trying to power through attacks because I felt it was just what was expected. Fortunately, I wised up and sought out treatment by a qualified doctor. It is a hard life to live with chronic migraine, but I do my best and try to educate others along my way. Tom(migraine.com team)

  • Randall Weiser
    3 months ago

    God bless you, sir!
    I’ve been having migraines on a regular basis since I was about 19, and I am 62 now. It’s sad how many people consider migraines to be a”woman’s disease”… until they take a look at my face when I get one! I’ve been known to scare people when I get a bad one! (g)
    Hang in there, guys – you are NOT alone!

  • Peggy Artman moderator
    2 months ago

    Randall Weiser, thanks for encouraging more men to speak up!
    Peggy (Migraine.com Team)

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