In general, women are much more likely to develop migraines than men. However, researchers fear that this has made men and their doctors in the US think that migraines are a “woman’s problem,” leading to an underdiagnosis of men’s migraines.
Men Don’t Get Migraines in the US
Women are two or three times more likely than men to have migraines. However, that means that up to one third of migraine sufferers are men. But in the US, men don’t seem ready to acknowledge their risk. One startling piece of evidence is the user demographics for the Migraine Buddy app. Around the world, more than a quarter of the users of the app are men. In Japan, almost a third of users (32%) are men.
But in the US, only 4% of the app’s users are men. This means that men in the US are either not being diagnosed with migraines or they’re trying to avoid admitting that they have migraines, even to the point of not using an app to help them cope.
Women Impacted More by Migraines
A recent study confirmed that women experience a heavier migraine burden, but men’s migraines still result in a significant life burden. The study analyzed responses from two different surveys, the American Prevalence and Prevention survey (AMPP) and the Chronic Migraine Epidemiology and Outcomes (CaMEO). These results showed that women were more likely to experience high levels of disability related to their migraines. For chronic migraineurs, 83% of women reported moderate or severe disability, while for episodic migraineurs, 38% of women reported that high level of disability, compared to 27% of men.
But when it comes to migraine frequency, men and women are more equal. Men and women with chronic migraines report 20 migraine days a month, while men with episodic migraine report two migraine days a month, while women report three.
Men and Women Treated Very Differently
Despite the heavy burden men with migraines experience, researchers noted they were treated very differently, which means that men with migraines might be significantly underdiagnosed.
Of course, it’s probably not just that doctors are underdiagnosing men’s migraines. Instead, men may not be reporting all their symptoms, or may be downplaying some symptoms, such as pain. They may even be afraid that a migraine diagnosis could impact their job status. People with migraines often fear that the condition endangers their financial future.
The result is that men likely aren’t getting the treatment they need to help control their migraines.
TMJ Disparity Is Similarly Skewed
Like migraines, TMJ is a condition that is more often reported by women than men. However, the disparity is even greater, with women representing perhaps 90% of people who seek treatment for the condition. However, a large study recently showed that women were only slightly more likely to develop TMJ than men. This means that there are likely many men who are just not getting treatment for their TMJ, either because they’re not getting diagnosed (a problem for all TMJ sufferers) or because their initial research shows that mostly women are affected by the condition, so they dismiss it.
Men Need to Seek Treatment
Men need to put aside preconceived notions about migraine and TMJ being women’s problems. If they have symptoms of TMJ, they need to act on them.
If you are a man with migraines or TMJ or if you know a man with migraine or TMJ symptoms, let him know how crucial it is that he seek treatment. He can begin to enjoy a pain-free life.