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How To Help Period Migraines

Whats The Relationship Between Hormones And Headaches

Hormonal Migraines

Headaches in women, especially migraines, are related to changes in the levels of estrogen. Levels of estrogen drop immediately before the start of your menstrual flow .

Premenstrual migraines regularly occur during or after the time when the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, drop to their lowest levels.

Migraine attacks usually improve during pregnancy. However, some women have reported that their migraines started during the first trimester of pregnancy, and then went away.

Wearable Pain Relief Device May Treat Menstrual Migraines

    Angela Underwood’s extensive local, state, and federal healthcare and environmental news coverage includes 911 first-responder compensation policy to the Ciba-Geigy water contamination case in Toms River, NJ. Her additional health-related coverage includes death and dying, skin care, and autism spectrum disorder.


      What Are Period Migraines

      First things first: You may get torturous headaches during your period, but that doesnt mean they are migraines. Dr. Holly L. Phillips, an internist who practices in New York City, says that more than 90 percent of headaches fall into the category of tension-type headaches. Far fewer people actually experience true migraines. Statistics published in Cephalalgia state that 11 percent of people worldwide get migraines, while tension-type headaches are far more common. Theres also a socio-economic link to your risk for any type of migraine, with people from lower-income households experiencing migraines at higher rates, likely due to more stressors that can trigger them.

      There seems to be some confusion about what migraines really are and it often involves the level of pain. We tend to think of migraine as causing more severe pain than other types of headaches, but thats not always the case, says Phillips.

      You can spot the difference between a menstrual migraine and a premenstrual syndrome headache by taking careful note of your symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, migraine headaches typically last anywhere from four hours to three days. Migraines are characterized by throbbing pain, usually on one side of your head, in addition to other symptoms. You may also have severe nausea that can cause vomiting.

      • Sensitivity to light, sound, and smells
      • Disturbances in your field of vision, known as migraine aura
      • Dizziness and exhaustion, even after the pain subsides

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      How To Prevent Or Treat Period Headaches

      While theres no guarantee you can stop those pesky headaches around your period before they pop up, there are preventive measures you can take throughout the month that may help.

      Brightens suggestion? Make a few simple diet and supplement tweaks. Magnesium-rich foods think leafy greens, nuts and avocados may help reduce the frequency or severity of headaches, she said.

      Vora agreed with the magnesium tip, noting that when women have a magnesium deficiency, the symptoms around their period are a lot worse. The body has an increased need for magnesium related to the contraction of the uterus during menstruation, she said. This ends up pulling magnesium away from the rest of the body, which can create muscle tension. Tension in the muscles of the neck and the small muscles around the forehead, temples and scalp is a common contributor to headaches.

      Vora also recommended getting some exercise. Her personal favorite? Pilates. Since headaches can come from muscle tension, she said, any exercise that strengthens the core and leads to better posture can help quite a bit.

      And dont forget to work on reducing overall stress, she said, adding that some people consider acupuncture helpful. You can also try other stress-relief techniques like reading, going for a walk, talking to a friend or whatever works for you.

      Sounds like prescriptions worth following.

      How To Prevent Menstrual Migraines

      Handy Charts to Help Deal with Migraines

      If you get migraines often, you may want something that is taken on a regular schedule to prevent your migraines before they begin. The following are some options mentioned by the American Migraine Foundation as well as some new medications.

      • Birthcontrol: It’s worth mentioning again that hormonal birth control is a preventive measure for migraines. Taken regularly, birth control can maintain an even estrogen level, preventing dips that can trigger headaches. Deciding to take birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives is a decision that extends beyond treating your migraines. Other factors should be taken into account, such as safety considerations, potential side effects, and whether you want to use a daily pill, an injection every few months, or an IUD to prevent pregnancy. See our birth control pill guide for more information.

      • Magnesium: As discussed above, taking magnesium once a migraine sets in won’t do much to treat it, but taking it long term as a supplement has been shown to reduce the number of migraines patients experience.

      • Newly developing therapies: Another newer class of drugs called anti-CGRP monoclonal antibodies can help with migraine prevention. The goal is to lower the number of migraines every month. Some examples are Aimovig , Ajovy , and Emgality . These drugs are given intravenously, or in a vein in your arm, every 4 to 12 weeks in a clinic or at home.

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      Treatment Options For Menstrual Migraine

      There are several treatment options depending on the regularity of your menstrual cycle, whether or not you have painful or heavy periods, menopausal symptoms or if you also need contraception.

      If you have regular periods your doctor may suggest taking medication for a few days around the time of menstruation .

      There are different options available and your doctor should suggest the option that suits you. It could include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or mefenamic acid, oestrogen supplements or triptans.

      • Frovatriptan tablet
      • Zolmitriptan tablet

      Can Estrogen Levels Cause Headaches

      Estrogen dominance is the most common cause of hormonal headaches. This can occur when there is an excess amount of estrogen in your system either because you are making too much, not eliminating it effectively, or are being over exposed to xenoestrogens.

      It can also happen if you’re not ovulating or not making sufficient progesterone.

      Estrogen dominance is referred to as estrogen excess in medicine and is a diagnosable condition. Sometimes doctors will say they do not believe in estrogen dominance, but this is often because they are not testing correctly or familiar with the diagnosis .

      But other hormones can also cause headaches, like your adrenals and thyroid, as well as nutrient deficiencies such as magnesium.

      Working with a hormone expert can help you identify the source of your headaches and support you in relieving them for good.

      Finding your root cause is important to understand if something bigger is at play.

      Ok, so finding the root cause is important and sure Ibuprofen and Tylenol are bad, but when theres pain, whats a girl to do?

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      Why Do I Get Period Headaches

      Your hormones fluctuate throughout your monthly menstrual cycle, says James Woods, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Rochester. Just before your period beginsassuming you didnt become pregnant after ovulationyour estrogen levels drop sharply.

      People sometimes dont realize that our hormones are linked to brain chemicals and to our mental state, says Dr. Woods. Any sudden change in hormones can mean changes in mood or anxiety levels, or it can mean experiencing more symptoms like headaches.

      Research suggests that up to 20% of women experience a form of migraine tied to their period, known as menstrual migraines. These tend to occur in the two days leading up to a period and the three days after a period starts.

      Its hard to say whether all period-related headaches are migraines, says Dr. Woods, since the definition of migraines has changed and expanded over the years. But what we can say is that the vast majority of these headaches are linked to this drop in hormones, he says.

      Read Also: How To Count Pregnancy After Missed Period

      Apply A Cold Compress

      Menstrual migraine | Why do I get migraines during my monthly cycle | period?

      Applying a cold compress to the back of your neck or over the areas you’re experiencing the headache can help reduce inflammation, constrict blood vessels and slow your nerves from firing pain signals.

      Cold compresses are excellent for many types of headaches, including migraines, and can provide instant migraine relief at home.

      You can make an icepack, soak a washcloth in ice water or throw a bag of frozen vegetables over the area. Be sure to use a towel between your skin and the cold pack and avoid applying for more than 20 minutes at a time. Brain freeze is real.

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      Help For Menstrual Migraines

      Did you know that 60% of women have migraines related to their period?

      As if all of the other menstrual symptoms werent bad enough, go ahead and throw in a raging headache, nausea and dizziness.

      While menstrual migraines can be horrible and debilitating, there are ways that you can both prevent and treat the pain during your period.

      Treat Hormonal Migraines Naturally

      Migraines are headaches that have certain associated characteristics, such as nausea, vomiting, visual changes, and sensitivity to light, noise and smells. Many women who suffer from migraines notice a correlation with their menstrual cycle. Some women have migraines that start just before their cycle begins and others have migraines that occur during their cycle. Other women start to have regular migraines when they enter the perimenopausal period of life. And some women who experience migraines find the symptoms fade when they become pregnant.

      Here is an introduction to the influence of hormones on migraines, along with ways to treat hormonally mediated migraines naturally.

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      Can You Prevent These Headaches

      There are a few methods your doctor might suggest.

      Hormonal:Birth control pills or estrogen patches and vaginal rings may help lower the number of menstrual migraines you have or make them less severe. But they donât work for everyone. In some cases, they could make your migraines worse.

      Your doctor might tell you to stay on birth control for 3 to 6 months without taking any placebo pills. This will prevent you from having a period and may stop your headaches.

      If you get migraines with auras, using birth control that contains estrogen and progesterone isnât a safe option. Taking it could make you more likely to have a stroke. Other reasons your doctor may not want you to take birth control for your menstrual migraines:

      Medicines that prevent migraines: If you donât respond to other treatments and you have 4 or more migraine days a month, your doctor may suggest preventive medicines. You can take these regularly to make the headaches less severe or less frequent. These could include:

      Devices: Four devices may bring relief.

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      Protect Your Sleep Stress And Hydration

      Menstrual Migraine

      There is always a stress factor at play when we see migraines and menses interacting. Lower the total perceived and experienced stress your body is experiencing by going through different areas of stress in your life and cutting your load. Get adequate rest so your body has time to repair. Hydration to ensure all the necessary minerals are absorbed into your tissues. With stress reduction, sleep, and hydration your body will begin to regulate itself and heal.

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      Foods For Estrogen Support

      Women should support their estrogen levels by eating specific foods that help create and regulate it. Some of the best foods for estrogen support are seeds like flax and sesame, fibrous fruits and vegetables, ginseng, carrots, and sauerkraut. Equally important is avoiding synthetic sources of estrogen including products we put on our skin, household cleaning products, packaging of our foods, or certain cooking tools.

      Whats A Migraine What Does It Feel Like

      A migraine is more than a bad headache. Its a neurologic disease with a series of symptoms that might include debilitating pain on one side of your head that you may describe as pulsing or throbbing. Menstrual migraines, also known as hormone headaches, happen right before or during a womans period and may get worse with movement, light, smells, or sound. Your symptoms may last for a few hours, but theyll likely last days.

      Its estimated that 70% of people who experience migraines are women. Of these women, 60% to 70% report a connection between their menstruation and their migraine attacks. Women experience migraine attacks three times more frequently than men.

      A menstrual migraine is one of several types of migraine headaches. Examples of other migraines include migraine with aura, migraine without aura and chronic migraine.

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      Whats The Effect Of Vitamin E On The Treatment Of Menstrual Migraine

      Simply stated, it could help. The dosage is 400 IU. This vitamin is helpful to relax the blood vessels, although magnesium is the primary relaxer of the blood vessels.

      Herbs provide only minute amounts of vitamins and minerals and the reason why they may help would be because they generally contain medicinal constituents that fill in the metabolic gaps we all have.

      A period vitamin is probably the easiest way to get in most of the vitamins and minerals for the day plus it will also contain some herbs that support your period during the entire menstrual cycle from period to period. Its taken once daily. It could also contribute greatly to your cessation of migraines.

      Start reading up on nutrition and youll find it fascinating. Its also a way for you to be empowered to take care of your own health.

      What Are The Treatment Options For Menopausal Migraines

      Menstrual Migraines | The Cause | The Disabling Condition

      If you need to continue estrogen supplements after menopause, you should start on the lowest dose of these agents, on an uninterrupted basis. Instead of seven days off the drug, you may be told to take it every day. By maintaining a steady dose of estrogen, the headaches may be prevented. An estrogen patch may be effective in stabilizing the levels of estrogen.

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      Which Treatment Option Is Best For You

      Keeping a diary of your headaches, including when they occur in relation to your menstrual cycle, as well as their severity and response to treatment, will help your doctor determine the presence of menstrual migraine. There are not any blood tests or any type of imaging that can be done to diagnose this, says Dr. David. Its purely done based on the history.

      A headache and menstrual diary can also help you and your doctor identify the best treatment for you. Women with menstrual migraine who have painful cramps may benefit more from a NSAID strategy with a triptan for rescue. Those who have predictable cycles and migraine attacks may benefit from a mini-prevention strategy. Those who dont have regular cycles can try other options.

      It is also important to discuss with your doctor any personal risk factors you may have for taking oral contraception, such as an increased risk of stroke, heart disease or blood clots, as hormonal birth control can affect women with migraine differently. Please let your provider know if you have migraine with aura when discussing hormonal options.

      The American Migraine Foundation is committed to improving the lives of those living with this debilitating disease. For more of the latest news and information on migraine, visit the AMF Resource Library. For help finding a healthcare provider, check out our Find a Doctor tool. Together, we are as relentless as migraine.

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      Tips For Menstrual Migraine Relief

      Menstrual migraine relief is something many women are trying to achieve when it comes to the time of the month. Not only can women experience bloating, cramps, and tender breasts during their period, but they may also experience severe headaches or migraines . Menstruation leads to many hormone fluctuations, especially with estrogen and progesterone. Right before your period, progesterone and estrogen levels drop, which may lead to migraines. Many women seek treatments and methods to alleviate their symptoms and I am here to break down the simplest ways to achieve menstrual migraine relief. If you are someone that wants to avoid using medications or hormone therapies as a way to alleviate menstrual migraines, these tips are perfect for you.

      Here are the top 10 tips on how to achieve menstrual migraine relief using a holistic, natural approach:

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      Minimal Side Effects And Risks

      Another advantage to REN is that it has minimal side effects. In the trial, 12 of the 91 people who used Nerivio reported mild side effects such as bruising on their arm where they had been wearing the device, nausea, and dizziness.

      The device also does not have the potential to interact with other medications that a user might be taking because it is a drug-free pain relief method.

      Migraine patients are sensitive to overuse of rescue medications,” says Nierenburg. “Taking triptans or over-the-counter medications such as combination analgesics with acetaminophen and caffeine more than 10 days a month can cause them to have more headaches.”

      Hows A Menstrual Migraine Diagnosed What Tests Are Done

      Menstrual Migraines, Pregnancy, and HRT

      Your healthcare provider will want to establish a history of your migraine-related symptoms, likely asking you to:

      • Describe the severity and location of your pain. Is the pain pounding? Pulsing? Throbbing?
      • Tell how often you get migraine headaches.
      • Remember if anything makes your headache better or worse.
      • Discuss what medications you take to relieve the pain and how often you take them.
      • Talk about the activities, foods, stressors, or the situations that may have brought on the migraine.
      • Remember if anyone in your family gets migraine headaches.
      • Tell how you felt before, during and after the headache.

      Your healthcare provider may also order blood tests and imaging tests to make sure there are no other causes for your headache. An electroencephalogram may be ordered to rule out seizures.

      Its helpful to both you and your healthcare provider if you keep a migraine journal. Take note of what symptoms you get, how long your symptoms last, and what makes your menstrual migraine better or worse. You and your healthcare provider may be able to use that information to help you heal, and possibly prevent or anticipate your migraine.

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