Is There an Association Between Migraine and Erectile Dysfunction?
A migraine is a neurovascular headache that is often characterized by severe throbbing pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. Sometimes, migraines are accompanied by other conditions such as depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal disorders, and/or chronic pain conditions. As they often recur in individuals, migraines can be disruptive and debilitating, leading to missed social engagements, lost time at work, and even a noticeable decrease in quality of life.
Unfortunately, the negative effects of migraines may also extend to sexual function. In particular, past studies have demonstrated an association between migraine and erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. As such, the authors of a recent Journal of Sexual Medicine study conducted a systematic review of all relevant trials that evaluated the risk of ED in patients with migraine to further illuminate this relationship. Their systematic search of three medical databases yielded six trials between the years of 2000-2021 that included a total of 51,657 participants. Of the total number of participants, 6,175 were male patients who experience migraines. (These trials based the presence/absence of migraine on two main sets of criteria: the International Headache Society (IHS) criteria and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) criteria).
The compilation of this data revealed that migraine in men is indeed significantly associated with ED. In fact, the researchers’ analysis showed a 1.63-fold increased risk of ED in men with migraine compared to the participants in the control group. Accordingly, the participants who experienced migraines had significantly lower International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-5) scores than their healthy counterparts.
The association between migraine and ED was especially strong for younger men (under 40 years old). When the results were stratified by age (under 40/over 40), the researchers observed a 32-fold increased risk of ED in men with migraine who are under 40 years old, compared to men of the same age in the control group. In contrast, the participants with migraine who were over 40 years old experienced a 1.75-fold increased risk of ED, compared to the men in their age group who do not experience migraines.
While these findings may seem disheartening, they contribute to expanding research on the frequent intersection of chronic conditions (i.e., migraine) and sexual dysfunction (in this case, ED). This information is useful for understanding the underlying factors that may cause one or both conditions, which is vital information to have when determining how to best treat these conditions. Participants in trials such as these help to advance the treatment and prevention discovery process by allowing scientists, researchers, and medical professionals to examine the trends/associations of certain health conditions.
- He, W., Yang, Y., Liang, H., Huang, Z., & Jiang, J. (2022). Migraine Is Associated With High Risk of Erectile Dysfunction: A Systematic Review and Cumulative Analysis. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 19(3), 430-440. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2021.12.014