Women have been telling their doctors for years that they have hormonal headaches and not every doctor was on board with the theory that the two were related. But now, we have hard evidence from researchers that backs what many patients have been saying–migraines are linked to hormonal events–especially menopause.
According to research published in the Los Angeles Times, women entering perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) and menopause itself (the time when periods stop altogether) experienced the most headaches. An estimated 38 million Americans report having migraines.
Women were studied as part of the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention Study and analyzed women from 120,000 different households across the United States. Information used from a portion of the 2006 study was used for the research and asked women to record how many migraines they had each month and what stage of menopause they were in.
Migraine headaches occurring at least 10 times per month were 50-60% more likely in menopausal women.
Study author Dr. Richard B. Lipton, director of the Montefiore Headache Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine stated said, “We believe that both declining estrogen levels that occur at the time of menstruation as well as low estrogen levels that are encountered during the menopause are triggers of migraine in some women.”
While there’s nothing fun about a migraine, this information can be good news for women who have been trying to relay their concerns to their doctors and hopefully more will find relief.
How can my hormonal migraines be treated?
Treating a migraine can take many forms. Most commonly, women use prescribed oral medications to stop migraine pain. Over the counter medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen aren’t nearly enough, and narcotic medications are not recommended to treat migraines because they do not address the correct cause of the pain.
Peppermint oils have been shown to help reduce migraine pain in some patients when used at the onset of symptoms. Always check with your doctor before starting any new treatments for your headaches. Exercise and a healthy diet have also been suggested at ways to reduce headache days.
Your doctor may be able to discuss other treatment options for hormonal migraines with you. Each case is unique and we recommend you see your gynecologist or family doctor for a thorough evaluation before beginning any therapy.