Many women suffering from severe migraine might avoid pregnancy, but should they?


A survey of 607 women who suffer from severe migraine found twenty percent of the respondents are currently avoiding pregnancy because of their migraines. The women avoiding pregnancy due to severe migraine tend to be in their thirties, are more likely to have migraine triggered by menstruation, and are more likely to have very frequent attacks (chronic migraine) compared to their counterparts who are not avoiding pregnancy, according to a new study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Their decision appears to be based on perceived fears about their own health and the health of their child, even though evidence shows that migraine improves in up to 75 percent of women during pregnancy.

Migraine is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, particularly affecting women during their childbearing years. “A large number of women with migraine might avoid pregnancy due to migraine. So they can make informed decisions, it is important that women with migraine have access to reliable information about the relationship between migraine and pregnancy,” explained lead author Ryotaro Ishii, MD, PhD., a visiting scientist at Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, AZ, USA.

The study investigated the impact of migraine on pregnancy plans among patients being treated in headache specialty clinics and enrolled in the American Registry for Migraine Research (ARMR), the American Migraine Foundation’s national prospective longitudinal patient registry and biorepository. Corresponding author Todd J. Schwedt, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, AZ, USA, and Principal Investigator of ARMR, remarked, “ARMR is a multicenter patient registry that collects in-depth clinical data, biospecimens, and neuroimaging data from a large number of individuals with migraine and other headache types. ARMR provides deep insights into the clinical manifestations, management, and outcomes of patients with headache.”

Patients provide demographic data when they enroll in ARMR and complete questionnaires about their medical history. A family planning questionnaire is included. The database includes a specialist’s diagnosis of migraine subtypes, such as migraine with aura, migraine without aura, chronic migraine (at least 15 headache days per month), and/or menstrual migraine.

The family planning questionnaire was completed by 607 patients within ARMR between February 2016 and September 2019.


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