Bad head

Gay and bisexual people at higher risk of migraines

A man clutches his head in pain
Posed by model (Photo: Shutterstock)

A new study has found that gay, lesbian and bisexual people are 58% more likely to report suffering from migraines than their straight counterparts.

The study was carried out by researchers at the University of California – San Francisco (UCSF). They looked at 10,000 adults in the U.S., aged between 31 and 42, between 2016-2018.

The results were published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology.

The researchers say that several other studies have found disparities in the reporting of migraines depending on gender and ethnicity. For example, around 85% of those who experience migraines are women. Other studies report migraines being more common in African American communities and those from lower socio-economic groups.

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However, little research has been done to see if sexuality is linked to migraines.

As anyone who has experienced a migraine will know, they can be a serious health issue. In fact, they’re the fifth leading cause of emergency department visits in the U.S. An estimated one in six people report experiencing them. Symptoms, besides pain, can include sensitivity to light and sound, blurred vision and nausea.

The study found that almost a third of LGB people surveyed reported experiencing migraines. This is 58% more than heterosexual people.

However, the research didn’t offer any reasons for the disparity. The researchers speculate that it could be down to stress.

“There might be a higher rate of migraines in LGB people because of discrimination, stigma or prejudice, which may lead to stress and trigger a migraine,” lead author Dr. Jason Nagata told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Physicians should be aware that migraines are quite common in LGB individuals and assess for migraine symptoms,” Nagata said.

It’s already known that LGBTQ communities are more likely to smoke and abuse drugs. This has often been linked to them facing greater challenges in life because of the discrimination and stigma they may face.

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