Migraines More Common in Women with Endometriosis

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Endometriosis affects upwards of 176 million women worldwide – approximately 10% of the menstruating population. It is one of the more commonly reported diseases among followers of Hormones Matter, with most women reporting over 10 years of pain and suffering before a proper diagnosis.

Data suggest that at least a third of women with endometriosis may also suffer from migraines. Researchers from Italy found a significantly higher frequency of migraine  (38.3%) in women with confirmed endometriosis versus healthy women (15.1%). The onset of migraine was five years earlier (16.4  years versus 21.9) in women with endometriosis and more likely to be a migraine with aura.

The co-occurrence of migraine and endometriosis has only recently begun to be investigated and clues to potential common causes are poorly articulated. There is speculation that migraines cause endometriosis or that endometriosis elicits migraine. Neither has sufficient supporting evidence. The search for clear genetic linkages between migraine and endometriosis is promising but remains in its infancy.

Perhaps we’re looking in the wrong places. As we reported in Endometriosis and Neuropathy, rodent models of endometriosis, suggest a clear neural-uterine connection that initiates endometriotic pain in some but not all. Specifically, some endometriotic tissue sprouts nerve fibers capable of sending pain signals to the brain. Regardless of the cause of the initial endometriotic implants, it is certain that the dynamic hormone biochemistry of the female body would regulate or dysregulate neural firing and pain signaling. The pain of endometriosis though regionally different, could be mechanistically similar to migraine pain. Just a thought.

 

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Chandler Marrs, PhD

Chandler Marrs MS, MA, PhD spent the last dozen years in women’s health research with a focus on steroid neuroendocrinology and mental health. She has published and presented several articles on her findings. As a graduate student, she founded and directed the UNLV Maternal Health Lab, mentoring dozens of students while directing clinical and Internet-based research. Post graduate, she continued at UNLV as an adjunct faculty member, teaching advanced undergraduate psychopharmacology and health psychology (stress endocrinology). Dr. Marrs received her BA in philosophy from the University of Redlands; MS in Clinical Psychology from California Lutheran University; and, MA and PhD in Experimental Psychology/ Neuroendocrinology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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