This Is How Migraines and Menstruation Are Interconnected
Many women have noticed that they get headaches during their periods, and this is no coincidence. There is a strong correlation between headaches and menstruation that goes both ways. It is also common for a woman’s menstrual cycle to affect her migraines and make an existing migraine condition worse. Meanwhile, the hormones produced during a woman’s menstrual cycle may actually cause a migraine to form.
This article will provide an explanation about the connection between migraines and menstruation to dispel myths and help women understand the facts about their bodies. Fortunately, hormonal headaches can be prevented and treated in safe and effective ways.
Why Does a Headache Before Period Occur?
One theory about the interconnected nature of migraines and menstruation begins with the fact that many women experience their first migraine around the time that they have their first menstrual period.1 A woman’s menstrual cycle affects her entire body because estrogen and progesterone have a widespread effect on the body. This means that the body can be more sensitive to fluctuations, even seemingly minor ones.
Studies have also suggested that menstrual migraines can be triggered by drops in estrogen levels that occur shortly before a woman gets her period.1,2,3 It is also believed that the release of prostaglandin during the first two days of a period can cause hormonal migraines.
Symptoms of Menstrual Migraines
Menstrual migraines are a form of migraines that are directly connected to a woman’s menstrual cycle. It is most common for these migraines to occur in the day or two leading up to a period. However, other women report having more menstrual migraines during the first couple days after starting their periods.1
Unlike other types of migraines, menstrual migraines don’t typically involve an aura. However, menstrual migraines tend to last longer and be more severe than migraines unrelated to a menstrual period.1
Tips to Prevent Hormonal Migraines
Since every woman’s body is different, it is important to understand one’s own biological processes and keep track of when migraines occur in relation to the menstrual cycle. Consider jotting down notes about this data in a journal and then reporting the results to a trusted doctor if the hormonal migraines persist.
As a preventative measure for hormonal migraines, women may consider taking anti-inflammatory painkillers, estrogen supplements, or progesterone-based contraceptives. Knowing approximately when one’s migraines occur in relation to their menstrual cycle will guide the prevention strategy most effectively.1,2
How to Get Rid of Hormonal Headaches
Once a headache before period or during the first few days of a period set in, there are a few different treatment options that women can pursue. Options for how to get rid of hormonal headaches include taking painkillers, triptan medications, and anti-inflammatory painkillers.1
A nutritious and well-balanced diet also supports healthy menstrual cycles and keeping hormonal migraines at bay. For example, certain food ingredients, like MSG and aspartame, are known triggers. Avoid foods with these ingredients to prevent and get rid of existing migraines. It is also a good idea to avoid processed foods, refined sugars, and simple carbohydrates. Lifestyle factors, such as getting enough high-quality sleep each night and reducing stress, also go a long way in keeping both hormones and migraines in check.
References for This Is How Migraines and Menstruation Are Interconnected
2. Mayo Clinic. Headaches and Hormones: What’s the Connection? Retrieved on September 3, 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-daily-headaches/in-depth/headaches/art-20046729.
3. Mayo Clinic. Migraine. Retrieved on August 26, 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20360201.
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