Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Migraines & Headaches Health Center

Font Size

Migraines, Headaches, and Relationships

How Migraines Affect Sex, Marriage, and Family

Migraines are so common, there's a special name for people who suffer from frequent migraines: migraineurs. Yet, loved ones don't always understand the migraineur's condition, and even if they do, serious headaches can be highly disruptive to family time and marriages.

Migraine Pain and Children

Children are sensitive to a parent's medical condition. They may believe they caused it. You can put that fear to rest by telling children about migraines in advance. Try a statement like this: "Mommy has a sensitive nervous system and has to be careful not to overtax herself." If you feel a migraine attack coming on, you might say: "I'm afraid I'm going to be having a migraine. I am going to  take my medicine and rest, but I will be better in a bit."  Remain positive and emphasize that you will feel better soon.

It may seem strange, but migraine headaches occur more frequently around holidays and other family celebrations. This may make you feel guilty, perhaps precipitating an attack. "You have to scale back," says Kathleen Lake, PsyD, a psychologist who treats migraine patients. "Expectations are so high for migraineurs around family celebrations."   

 

Migraine Pain and Intimacy

When a migraine is about to hit or is already in full swing, migraineurs may not be able to attend to family chores such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping. Spouses have to pick up the slack, which often causes resentment. A recent survey found that 74% of sufferers have to cancel plans because of migraine pain and 68% say it disrupts their sex life. 

Migraine pain often occurs at predictable times, often before or during a woman's menstrual cycle or when the weather changes. If yours are triggered by your period or the weather, plan ahead; make dinners in advance and microwave them, or use prepared dinners if you have a headache. Let your spouse know that you may need down time, so he may have to take on other family responsibilities, such as picking up the kids from school.

Sex is also a sensitive subject for couples where one suffers migraine headaches. Some migraineurs don't like to be touched when they are having an attack. Tell your spouse that "not tonight" doesn't mean not ever. It's only temporary. Talking about this in advance can help prevent hurt feelings. 

The Workplace and Migraine Pain

There is more recognition of migraine headaches in the workplace today. Being open about your condition with your supervisor can help resolve many issues that could impact your job performance. You could say, "I sometimes show up late because I wake up with migraine pain. I need to treat it before coming to work. I will make up the lost time. Is that something that will work for you? " Most bosses will understand. On average, migraineurs take about four days off from work a year because of migraine pain. 

The Key Is Communication

Understand and anticipate the impact migraine pain can have on others in your life. This goes a long way in helping to prevent or repair any problems that may arise. Clear communication is key.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Richard Senelick, MD on June 22, 2012

Today on WebMD

woman receiving acupuncture
14 alternative methods for migraine relief.
Woman with migraine headache
Signs it's not a regular headache.
 
headache in the bedroom
Keep headaches from ruining your sex life.
desert heat
12 surprising headache triggers.
 
woman with migraine
Quiz
drinking coffee
Article
 
Migraines Headaches Basics
Article
acupuncture needles in woman's back
Slideshow
 
young woman with migraine
Articles
spraying perfume
Article
 
man with a headache
Article
headache in the bedroom
Article
 

Special Sections