A study from Taiwan suggests that men with erectile dysfunction (ED) are 63% more likely to have been diagnosed with migraine than men without the headache disorder.

Researchers at the National Taiwan University’s College of Medicine evaluated the data from insurance claims of 23,000 men for this study. Roughly 5,700 had been diagnosed with erectile dysfunction, the inability to get or maintain an erection. Researchers compared this group to 17,000 men who had not been diagnosed with ED. Of the men with ED, 4.25% had been diagnosed with migraine, while in men without ED, only 2.64% had received that diagnosis.

The association between ED and migraine was particularly strong in young men; those in their 30s with ED were roughly twice as likely to have been diagnosed with migraine as men without it.

Researchers, led by Dr. Chao-Yuan Huang, are not certain what might cause this association and noted that theirs is the first study to explore this link.

“One possible explanation for the association seen in this study may be the chronic pain associated with migraine headaches,” they wrote.

Other possible explanations provided by the researchers include the role of dopamine, which medical experts believe plays a role in both migraine and sexual functions, the possibility that men who seek care for migraine might be more likely to seek care for ED and that ED may be a side effect of some medications that men with migraines take.

Other researchers stressed that the findings, the first of their kind, do not mean that migraine and ED are causally linked and that further study will be necessary.

This study appeared in Cephalalgia on March 9.

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