Most of us often suffer from headaches due to stress or an unhealthy diet. It can be resolved with some rest or over-the-counter medications. But do you know that hormonal changes can be a trigger for headaches? Many women find that they get frequent headaches before the onset of menstruation. Chronic headaches and menstrual migraines can occur due to fluctuations in reproductive hormones during different stages of a woman’s life.
Many factors can cause hormonal fluctuations in women, including premenstrual symptoms and menopausal changes. The hormones estrogen and progesterone play a crucial role in hormonal headaches. Estrogen and progesterone are steroid hormones vital for the development of female reproductive organs, fertility, pregnancy maintenance and menstrual regulation. Changes in estrogen hormone levels can make headaches worse in women.
While hormonal changes can affect migraines and chronic headaches, they are not the serious reason for headaches in women. Therefore, women are three times more prone to migraines than men. A migraine sufferer describes it as a severe, throbbing and pulsating pain, especially on one side of the head.
What Are the Causes of Hormonal Headaches?
Several studies have found a link between migraine headaches and estrogen levels, which regulate pain-sensing chemicals in the brain. A sudden drop in estrogen hormone levels can make migraines and chronic headaches worse. Several conditions can cause estrogen fluctuations in women, such as:
- Menstrual period: Before the menstrual cycle, women may experience a sudden drop in estrogen and progesterone levels, triggering various premenstrual symptoms, including migraines. Women with irregular periods or heavy periods have more fluctuations in hormone levels and more frequent hormone-related migraine episodes. It can occur between two days before and three days after the onset of menstruation.
- Perimenopause Period: In the years just before menopause, estrogen levels show frequent ups and downs. Therefore, some women experience migraines for the first time or have more intense headaches, while some notice less severe and sparse migraine episodes as they approach menopause.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and contraceptive measures: Birth control pills, vaginal rings, patches, and HRT can cause fluctuations in hormone levels, which can improve or worsen migraines and other headaches.
- A few weeks after delivery: During pregnancy, a woman may experience improved or completely disappearing migraines or headaches due to an increase in estrogen hormones. But after a few weeks after the birth of the baby, estrogen levels begin to drop. In addition, stress, change in sleeping habits and irregular eating habits can trigger migraines.
What Are the Symptoms of Hormonal Migraines?
The first symptom of hormonal migraines is similar to regular migraines, including an intense throbbing and pulsating pain, especially on one side of the head. The headache may or may not be associated with an aura. Regardless of headaches, many women may experience other symptoms, such as:
- Nausea or vomiting
- loss of appetite
- Craving for sweet or salty
- Loss of coordination
- Muscle and joint pain
- sensitivity to light
What is the treatment for hormonal migraines?
Treatment for hormonal migraines depends on the underlying condition. It includes symptomatic treatment and preventive care.
Preventive care includes home remedies and natural remedies.
Many women state that some home remedies and preventative methods are beneficial for their migraine episodes, such as:
- Rest in a dark room and try to sleep
- Placing a cool, soaked towel over their forehead or neck
- Massage the painful area
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid stress
- Try to take a deep breath
- Eat in small portions to maintain blood sugar levels
- Regular meditation and mindfulness training can reduce the frequency of migraine episodes.
- Vitamin and mineral supplements, especially a magnesium supplement
- acupuncture medicine
- essential oils
The health care provider may suggest some medications to cure the acute symptoms after the onset of a migraine episode. The following are some medications that can help with hormonal migraines:
- Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Triptans, a migraine-specific drug
- If a woman has a history of frequent hormonal migraine attacks during menstrual cycles, the health care provider may recommend beta blockers, antidepressants, or calcium channel blockers.
- Skip the hormone-free placebo pills and continue on your birth control pills.
- If you receive hormone replacement therapy during perimenopausal or menopause and regularly experience severe headaches, ask your healthcare provider for a dose adjustment.
- If you’re pregnant or nursing and have a headache, you can try yoga, meditation, stress reduction, and acupuncture for relief. After consulting your doctor, you can take pain-relieving medications.
Hormonal migraines have similar symptoms to migraines and occur as a result of a sudden drop in estrogen hormone levels. Meditation, dietary changes, mindfulness, and medications can improve hormonal headaches.