Objective: The present study examined the relationship between the diagnosis of migraine and self-reported sexual desire.
Background: There is evidence for a complex relationship between sexual activity and headache, particularly migraine. The current headache diagnostic criteria even distinguish between several types of primary headaches associated with sexual activity.
Methods: Members of the community or students at the Illinois Institute of Technology (N = 68) were administered the Brief Headache Diagnostic Interview and the Sexual Desire Inventory (SDI). Based on the revised diagnostic criteria established by the International Headache Society (ICHD-II), participants were placed in 1 of the 2 headache diagnostic groups: migraine (n = 23) or tension-type (n = 36).
Results: Migraine subjects reported higher SDI scores, and rated their own perceived level of desire higher than those suffering from tension-type headache. The presence of the symptom "headache aggravated by routine physical activity" significantly predicted an elevated SDI score.
Conclusions: Migraine headaches and sexual desire both appear to be at least partially modulated by serotonin (5-HT). The metabolism of 5-HT has been shown to covary with the onset of a migraine attack, and migraineurs appear to have chronically low systemic 5-HT. As sexual desire also has been linked to serotonin levels, the results are consistent with the hypothesis that migraine and sexual desire both may be modulated by similar serotonergic phenomena.