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Survey Reveals One-Third of U.S. Women with Migraine Experience Menstrual-Related Attacks

A recent survey conducted among U.S. women with migraine highlights a significant association between migraine attacks and menstruation, with approximately one-third reporting that their migraines tend to coincide with their menstrual cycles.

The study, led by Dr. Jessica Ailani, a clinical neurology professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine, analyzed data from the 2021 U.S. National Health and Wellness Survey. The findings, funded by Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company manufacturing migraine medication, are set to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Denver.

Among the surveyed women, a substantial proportion experienced migraines during their menstrual periods, with over half of these cases occurring in premenopausal women. These menstrual-related migraines were characterized by their frequency, averaging 8.4 headache days per month, and severity, with more than half of the women rating them as moderate-to-severe on a standard scale.

Despite the prevalence and intensity of these migraines, the survey revealed that only a minority of women utilized medications aimed at preventing migraine attacks. Dr. Ailani emphasizes the importance of discussing menstrual-related migraines with gynecologists or neurologists, highlighting the availability of effective treatments and the need for perseverance in finding suitable therapeutic options.

The reluctance to pursue preventive therapy, Dr. Ailani suggests, may stem from the long-term commitment required by both patients and clinicians, as well as the financial constraints associated with newer, more targeted treatments. Many women opt to manage migraine attacks as they occur, often relying on over-the-counter or prescription medications rather than preventive strategies.

Dr. Ailani acknowledges the need for improved access to headache specialists and comprehensive migraine care, particularly for women who may not have access to specialized clinics. She underscores the importance of addressing the unmet needs of millions of women with migraine, urging further efforts to enhance treatment accessibility and optimize patient outcomes.

While these findings offer valuable insights into the challenges faced by women with menstrual-related migraines, it's essential to await publication in a peer-reviewed journal for comprehensive validation of the results.

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