Men who suffer from migraines understand that these intense headaches can impact the quality of life in many ways. It’s not surprising, then, that migraines could affect your sex life too.
In longitudinal research study published in the March 2016 issue of Medicine, more than 5,000 men who are afflicted with migraines were studied over the course of 11 years, and their risks for erectile dysfunction (ED) were analyzed (Wu, et al. 2016).
What Did The Researchers Do?
Beginning in the year 2000, the authors of the study followed 5,015 men who had been diagnosed with migraine headaches until the year 2011. They compared the data from these 5,015 men to data from more than 20,000 people who did not have a migraine diagnosis.
The researchers were specifically interested in the connection between organic ED (ED that is caused by physical problems), psychogenic ED (ED that is rooted in psychological factors, such as episodes of stress, depression or anxiety) and migraine, but they also looked at other factors, such as anxiety.
Their study was spurred by prior literature pointing out that migraine seemed to impact sexual function in both men and women.
What Did The Researchers Find?
The study found that male migraine sufferers were 1.78 times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction compared to people who did not have migraines and that participants who experienced both migraine and anxiety were even more likely to also experience ED.
The authors of the study took special care to rule out other factors that could contribute to ED besides migraine (such as kidney dysfunction, fatty liver disease, and pulmonary diseases) when making their findings.
We asked Takeesha Roland-Jenkins (MS in psychology and MS in neurology), a professional consultant for the Between Us Clinic, to share her knowledge. Takeesha is an expert in both psychology and neurology, and she has a unique insight into both the psyche and the brain.
What Could Be The Explanation Of The Connection Between Migraines And Erectile Dysfunction?
According to research, people suffering from migraines also tend to have a higher risk for coronary artery disease (CAD), chronic kidney disease (CKD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, depression, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood).
The occurrence of erectile dysfunction (ED) is strongly associated with these types of health problems, so men who have one or more of these conditions are already highly susceptible to ED.
Therefore, poor health appears to increase the incidence of migraines and these same health conditions appear to be linked to the occurrence of ED. In other words, migraines and ED both appear to be consequences of one or more underlying health problems; so the connection may be indirect.
In addition, experiencing a migraine is quite painful and this can dramatically worsen ED, especially if a man is attempting to engage in sexual activity during a migraine episode. Determining what condition or trigger is causing the migraines is essential to addressing this issue.
What Causes Migraines And Can It Be Treated?
There are a number of possible causes for migraines such as certain foods or ingredients (e.g., monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame), family history, stress, specific sensory stimulation (e.g., strong perfume, paint, cigarette smoke, intense sunlight), sleep disturbances, various health problems, and medication, to name a few.
If you can determine what the triggers are, avoiding them may dramatically decrease the occurrence of occasional migraines. However, people suffering from chronic migraines should speak with a medical professional about different treatment options.
The Researchers Talk About Organic And Psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction. What Is The Difference?
Organic ED develops due to physical problems and it refers to the inability to obtain and maintain a firm erection during intercourse.
Psychogenic ED occurs due to problems related to a person’s mental state, such as guilt, depression, anxiety, or unresolved sexual issues. Organic impotence is the more common form.
What Are The Causes Of Organic And Psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction And How Can It Be Treated?
The most common causes of psychogenic ED have already been mentioned and treating this form involves addressing the underlying condition (e.g., anxiety, depression, etc.) through counseling, therapy, or the combination of medication and therapy if a health care professional deems it as necessary.
The causes of organic ED include atherosclerosis, pelvic trauma, long-term radiation exposure, a spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, nerve damage, diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption, certain medication, thyroid problems, and additional health conditions (e.g., CAD, CKD, COPD, hypertension).
Identifying and treating the underlying condition helps target ED. Therefore, it is important to speak with a doctor as soon as possible if you’re experiencing frequent ED as the condition that is causing it may be serious.
What Should Migraine Sufferers Do If They Have ED?
It’s possible that seeking treatment for migraine headaches by talking to your doctor could help reduce the occurrence of ED.
However, not all migraine sufferers find relief due to the varying causes of a migraine, and the individual way each sufferer experiences a migraine.
Migraines can originate in different parts of the brain, leading those who have them to have wide-ranging experiences—most of them involving crippling pain (Rabbitt, 2015).
Regardless of whether you are experiencing migraines or not, the good news is that ED is a condition that can be treated.
If you suffer from physical ED, you should consult your doctor about possible treatments like hormone therapy, male enhancement pills, injections. If your ED is psychological in nature, you could consult a sex therapist. To find a sex therapist near you, visit the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists or the Society for Sex Therapy and Research.
You can also try to use relaxation techniques at home that could help you reduce anxiety and improve erections such as guided imagery.
Feature Image: Shutterstock.com
In-Post Image: Shutterstock.com & Migraine.com
 Rabbitt, M. (2015, April 28). Six Types of Migraines You've Never Heard of. Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.prevention.com/health/a20455575/types-of-migraines/