According to a recent study in Neurology, migraine may double the risk of Bell’s palsy, a nervous system condition that causes facial paralysis. Researchers in Taiwan have found an association between the two disorders, which previously had not been linked. In the study of nearly 137,000 people, migraine sufferers were more than twice as likely as those without migraine to develop Bell’s palsy.

Relief for people who suffer from chronic migraine may be derived from the hormone oxytocin, according to information presented at the International Headache Congress during June in Boston. In the study of 40 participants, those who received an intranasal dose of oxytocin reported significant pain relief from 2 to 4 hours later. Sixty-four percent who were treated with the hormone reported a substantial decrease in pain compared to 27% of those who received a placebo. 

Migraine made bigger than usual headlines recently after a study indicating that sex may be helpful in relieving migraine pain appeared in the journal Cephalalgia. While some of the headlines were clearly meant to grab attention, the science behind the study and its findings may prove valuable for many migraineurs. While most individuals with migraine and cluster headache do not engage in sexual activity during a headache attack, the findings suggest that sexual activity, orgasm in particular, can provide partial or complete relief of headache pain in some migraine and a few cluster headache patients.

Sex can trigger headaches and headaches can prevent a healthy and satisfying sex life. According to a 2008 NHF web survey, 69% of respondents have avoided sex because of a headache, while 47% reported they have experienced a headache triggered by sex. Some sufferers experience an explosive headache during sexual intercourse. This type of headache, coital or orgasmic cephalgia, is more common in men than in women and is usually more painful than dangerous.

Q. I have suffered from migraines without aura for most of my life. I recently moved from Wisconsin to Arizona and had a substantial increase in migraines during the recent monsoon season. There is an excessive amount of lightning, which strikes the ground repeatedly during storms, and thunder as well. The barometric pressure elevates to as much as 30.28 inches. Has there been any research that would indicate that lightning, thunder and elevated barometric pressure can affect the brain and trigger these migraines? I use Imitrex® to abort my headaches, but take so many in the course of a week, I am concerned it will affect my heart. Is there anything I can do to avoid so many headaches, short of moving?

By Katherine Margo, M.D. Director of Student Programs, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania THE CASE Mario is a 40-year-old man who has had migraines off and on since he was a teenager. He is able to keep them under control with occasional use of headache-specific medication or ibuprofen. He is in a new relationship, however, and has started having severe headaches all over his head as soon as he achieves a climax during sexual intercourse. This has happened several times and it’s quite distressing. He is worried that it might be something “really serious.” It is also interfering with his relationship in that his partner is reluctant to have intercourse for fear of triggering an attack.

By Katherine Margo, M.D. Director of Student Programs, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania THE CASE Mario is a 40-year-old man who has had migraines off and on since he was a teenager. He is able to keep them under control with occasional use of headache-specific medication or ibuprofen. He is in a new relationship, however, and has started having severe headaches all over his head as soon as he achieves a climax during sexual intercourse. This has happened several times and it’s quite distressing. He is worried that it might be something “really serious.” It is also interfering with his relationship in that his partner is reluctant to have intercourse for fear of triggering an attack.

Q: My husband has been suffering with chronic cluster headache for almost five years. He has been on just about every medication there is and finally took himself off all but Imitrex® injections and pain medications. We found that the preventive medications didn't stop the headaches but kept him “messed up” even when he wasn't having a headache. His headaches last over an hour (usually several hours), even with the use of Imitrex and pain medications. He is pitiful really. He tries to live his life as normally as possible, but it becomes increasingly more difficult. Recently, I saw an article on the use of baclofen for cluster. What are your thoughts on this?