Best treatment for migraine headaches may be sex ... or drugs

Consumer Reports News: March 22, 2013 02:28 PM

Scratch headaches off the list of excuses for avoiding sex. Surprisingly, German researchers recently found that among 800 migraine sufferers, two-thirds of those who had sex during their migraines reported that their headache pain felt better afterward. Most of the rest, however, said the pain got worse. We'll let you be the judge of that. In the meantime, we stand by another, better studied option to help relieve migraines: the generic form of Imitrex, or sumatriptan.

In our updated Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs report on triptans, a class of drugs used to treat migraine headaches, we found that the generic version of Imitrex, known as sumatritan, is as effective as or better than most other drugs in its class. And at $14 to $17 per tablet, it's less expensive.

But before you reach for a drug, see your doctor to make sure your pain is, in fact, a migraine and not another type of headache. Telltale signs of migraine headaches include throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to movement, light or noise. If your doctor confirms your suspicions, first try preventative nondrug strategies. Some research suggests acupuncture, massage, and yoga might also provide relief.

Read " Know Your Headache" and get the facts on migraine prevention drugs, the difference between a migraine and a tension headache, and more.

If nondrug measures aren't working, try an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol and generics), aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil and generics), naproxen (Aleve and generics), or combination products that contain acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine (Excedrin Extra Strength, Excedrin Migraine, and generics). If those don't work, then consider moving on to prescription drugs. For details, including precautions and potential risks, read our report on migraine drugs.

The impact of sexual activity on idiopathic headaches: An observational study [Cephalagia, February 2013]

Ginger Skinner

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