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New Study Finds Evidence for Association Between Erectile Dysfunction and Migraine

New Study Finds Evidence for Association Between Erectile Dysfunction and Migraine

Migraine has been shown to have a significant negative impact on individual functioning across multiple domains, including physical and social functioning, mental health, and vitality.[1-4] Associations between chronic pain disorders and sexual functioning have been demonstrated in several studies,[5, 6] and migraine, specifically, has been associated with sexual dysfunction in female patients.[7] Now, for the first time, researchers have found evidence of a link between erectile dysfunction (ED) and migraine.

Chao-Yuan Huang, MD, of National Taiwan University Hospital and College of Medicine, led a team of researchers in conducting a matched case-control study based on data from the Taiwan Longitudinal Health Insurance Database 2000.[8] The study sample included 5763 individuals with ED and 17,289 randomly selected non-ED controls.

After adjusting for a number of chronic diseases and health conditions, patients with ED had a significantly greater likelihood of having been previously diagnosed with migraine (odds ratio [OR]: 1.63; 95% CI: 1.39 to 1.91; P<0.001) compared with non-ED controls.

Risk for migraine was highest among younger patients. Those between the ages of 30 and 39 years were almost twice as likely as their non-ED peers to have been diagnosed with migraine (OR: 1.99; 95% CI: 1.30 to 3.06; P<0.01).

While the pathophysiology of both migraine and ED are complex and there are multiple potential mechanisms that might explain the association between the two disorders, the authors conjectured that chronic pain associated with migraine may play a major role in erectile difficulties among patients with migraine. They also hypothesized that dysregulation of the dopamine neurotransmitter pathway, which has been implicated in the pathogenesis of both disorders, may also explain the association.

While it is premature to claim any causal link between ED and migraine, the findings from the study do warrant further research in a wider range of populations and provide a valuable addition to the emerging picture of the factors that increase risk for both disorders.

1. Lipton, R.B., et al., Prevalence and burden of migraine in the United States: data from the American Migraine Study II. Headache, 2001. 41(7): p. 646-57. 2. MacGregor, E.A., et al., Impact of migraine on patients and their families: the Migraine And Zolmitriptan Evaluation (MAZE) survey–Phase III. Curr Med Res Opin, 2004. 20(7): p. 1143-50. 3. Smitherman, T.A., M.J. McDermott, and E.M. Buchanan, Negative Impact of Episodic Migraine on a University Population: Quality of Life, Functional Impairment, and Comorbid Psychiatric Symptoms. Headache: The Journal of Head & Face Pain, 2011. 51(4): p. 581-589. 4. Terwindt, G.M., et al., The impact of migraine on quality of life in the general population. Neurology, 2000. 55(5): p. 624-629. 5. Ambler, N., et al., Sexual difficulties of chronic pain patients. Clin J Pain, 2001. 17(2): p. 138-45. 6. Kwan, K.S.H., L.J. Roberts, and D.M. Swalm, Sexual dysfunction and chronic pain: the role of psychological variables and impact on quality of life. European Journal of Pain, 2005. 9(6): p. 643-652. 7. Bestepe, E., et al., Sexual dysfunction in women with migraine versus tension-type headaches: a comparative study. Int J Impot Res, 2011. 23(3): p. 122-127. 8. Huang, C.-Y., et al., Migraine and erectile dysfunction: evidence from a population-based case-control study. Cephalalgia, 2012.