• migraine;
  • nonmigraine headache;
  • prevalence;
  • menstruation;
  • students

Objectives.—To determine prevalence and characteristics of menstrually related migraine and nonmigraine headache in female students of Belgrade University.

Method.—A questionnaire was administered to female students during randomly selected classes of the Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy. Diagnoses were assigned according to the criteria of the International Headache Society and MacGregor's stricter definition of “menstrual” migraine.

Results.—Of 1943 female students (18 to 28 years old), 1298 (66.8%) had primary headaches. Among 1298 students with headache, 245 (12.6%) had migraine and 1053 (54.2%) had nonmigraine headache. The prevalence rates of migraine versus nonmigraine headache in relation to the menstrual cycle were: premenstrual, 0.9% versus 4.4%; menstrual, 1.5% versus 1.5%; menstrually associated, 6.1% versus 10.1%; menstrually unchanged, 2.7% versus 19.2%; and menstrually unrelated, 1.4% versus 18.9%. Female students with migraine had menstrually related attacks more frequently than students with nonmigraine headache (67.7% versus 29.5%). This difference was most prominent among students with menstrual migraine compared with students with menstrual nonmigraine headache (12.2% versus 2.7%). Exacerbation of migraine during menstruation was slightly more severe and more complex than exacerbation of nonmigraine headache. Female students with migraine versus nonmigraine headache did not differ significantly in age, age at onset of menarche, or age at onset of headache. Female students with migraine were significantly more likely to report a positive family history for migraine and menstrual migraine, severe attacks, reduced work activity, and aura.

Conclusion.—The results obtained are in accord with the prevailing opinion that there is a relationship between migraine and female sex hormones, and suggest that women with nonmigraine headache are also susceptible to hormonal fluctuations.