I suffer from Migraines. I know, it sounds almost as bad as saying that I suffer from period pain.
Although used by women over the years as an excuse to refuse sex, there might actually be some validity to their (real) claims after all. We feel like it is a weak excuse because Migraines are not such a common condition in men and we fail to understand how a headache can prevent you from the joys of sex.
It seems stupid for those who do not suffer from it, why we, sufferers, make such a big deal of just having a headache. I feel stupid myself for feeling so conditioned by these stupid headaches. After all, they’re just stupid headaches, or are they?
Not so many years ago, Migraines were mistakenly diagnosed as simple strong headaches. Well, they are not. In fact, far from it. Symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of the crisis. These almost always include a strong throbbing headache (most likely pulsating in one side of the head), sensitivity to light, mild nausea and body weakness. Symptoms can however be as severe as to include vomiting and dizziness. The duration of a crisis can be from a few hours to days and its occurrence is somewhat unpredictable.
Regular over-the-counter painkillers can alleviate a crisis in some people, whilst they do nothing for others. Triptans and Ergotamins can be used and usually offer some relief but these are generally expensive and have some undesirable side-effects.
What can you do to prevent triggering a Migraine?
Regular sleeping patterns – Go to bed and wake-up at the same time everyday. Yes, that also includes weekends. Sleep deprivation or too much sleep are powerful triggers for migraines. Especially on weekends it’s hard to resist a lie in, and even though your body sometimes needs it, your head says otherwise. I have experienced Migraines form just over sleeping for 15 minutes.
Avoid alcohol – You can have a drink and obviously if you get drunk you know that a hungover equals headache. But try to avoid drinks with lots of congeners such as red wine and dark coloured spirits such as whiskey or brandy. Sugary alcoholic drinks should also be avoided.
Drink coffee – although addictive, caffeine, in small doses can be helpful alleviating the symptoms of migraines. Note the small there, that’s important.
Light exercise – exercise release endorphins – these have powerful analgesic properties. A heavy lifting session may be out of the question, but do whatever you can to manage breaking a sweat.
Keep hydrated and avoid hunger – drink plenty of water. Dehydration can trigger some symptoms and aggravate a crisis. Food also helps.
Avoid artificial lights – Avoid looking at a computer screen, watching TV and be exposed to strong artificial lights. During a crisis, your photo sensitivity is high and you should, whenever possible, retreat to a low light room. If you must be outside, wear sunglasses – even if it is cloudy.
Temperature control – have a hot shower and lay down in bed. Buy one of those cooling eye masks you keep in the fridge and lay down in bed with it. The cold on your eyes will feel calming and help with any eye ache you may have.
Avoid sex – Hardly a trigger, the male orgasm can however aggravate the symptoms during a crisis. On the other hand, it can be a great way to relief a tension headache.
Avoid stress and fatigue – modern day problems that we all have to deal with. Both can trigger and aggravate a migraine. Do whatever you can to cope.
It is a debilitating condition and, especially for men, a difficult one to acknowledge. After all, you don’t want to take time off work because of a “headache”! It is important to recognise how this condition can impact on every male sufferer’s life. It is not just a women’s disease and it should not be seen as such. There is nothing to be ashamed of – you did not choose to suffer from it. Face it like a man – acknowledge it, prevent it, fight it.