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Migraine headaches & sexual desire may be linked

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Contrary to the popular clich, "Not tonight, I have a headache," new research suggests that not all headache sufferers avoid sexual activity. In fact, migraine sufferers reported higher levels of sexual desire than those with other types of headaches, according to researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and colleagues.

"Our study suggests that sexual desire and migraine headaches may be influenced by the same brain chemical," said Timothy Houle, Ph.D., lead author and research assistant professor of anesthesiology. "The results support the idea that migraine, as a syndrome, is associated with other common phenomena. Understanding of this link will help us to better understand the nature of migraine and perhaps lead to improved treatment."

The research, involving 68 young adults from Chicago, will appear in an upcoming issue of Headache, published by the American Headache Society, and already is available on line.

The objective of the study was to examine the relationship between migraine headache and self-reported sexual desire. There is evidence of a complex relationship between sexual activity and headache. Both sexual desire and migraine headache have been linked to levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that also plays a role in depression. An excess of serotonin may be associated with decreased libido, and migraine sufferers are reported to have low system levels of the brain chemical. Serotonin has also been found to play a role in migraine attacks.

"Considering the circumstantial evidence linking both migraine and sexual desire to serotonin, we wanted to explore whether the two phenomena are actually related," said Houle.

The researchers hypothesized that abnormalities in the serotonin systems of migraine sufferers may influence their sexual desire. Because high levels of serotonin are associated with low sexual desire, and migraine sufferers have low levels of the chemical, it w
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Contact: Karen Richardson
krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu
336-716-4453
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
9-Jun-2006


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