Migraine Triggers in Women Versus Men

Migraine triggers

Women are more likely than men to report stress, bright light, sleep deprivation, skipping meals, weather changes, and high altitudes as migraine triggers. Image credit: mybaitshop/123RF Stock Photo.

Published August 3, 2021

Editor’s Note: What triggers a migraine? And are there differences between women and men in this regard? Those questions are the focus of RELIEF’s latest data visualization.

The visualization is based on a recent study by researchers in the Netherlands, who looked at 11 frequently reported migraine trigger factors among 5,725 females and 1,061 males. The group found that several trigger factors were more commonly reported by women than by men, including stress, bright light, sleep deprivation, skipping meals, weather changes, and high altitudes.

For instance, 77% of females reported that stress was a trigger factor, compared to 69% of men. This translated to an odds ratio of 1.47 – meaning that women had 1.47 times the odds of reporting stress as a trigger factor.

While there were some female vs. male differences in the prevalence of other migraine trigger factors, including alcohol intake, physical activity, certain foods and drinks, and mild head trauma, these differences were not statistically significant.

Take a look at the visualization below. (Note: the most common migraine trigger in women, menstruation, is not depicted in the visualization).

Migraine triggers

This data visualization was created by Simona Denise Frederiksen, a postdoctoral associate at the University of Calgary in Canada.