Treating Menstrual Migraines

 Are you tired of dealing with debilitating menstrual migraines every month? Learn why they happen in the first place and what you can do to treat them. 


Menstrual migraines can be debilitating. Even when they’re relatively “mild,” they still make it difficult to concentrate, work, or do the most basic tasks. Menstrual migraine sufferers often find themselves wondering what causes their monthly head pain and how they can minimize it. 


When you’re in the middle of a menstrual migraine, you may feel like you’re completely helpless. But the good news is that you can do things to minimize your headache pain or even prevent it before it strikes! The key may be to balance your estrogen level with help from products like Hertime. Here are a few things you should know about hormone headaches and how to treat them so you can get back to living a normal life. 


What Is a Menstruation Migraine?


A migraine is a bit different from a regular headache. Just as tension headaches in women are quite common, migraines are also more common for women than they are for men. You may experience a variety of menstrual migraine symptoms, such as debilitating pain, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sounds, or smells. 


Menstrual migraines are migraines that occur in the days right before or during your period. If you’re lucky, your symptoms may only last a few hours. But if you’re like many women with severe menstrual migraine attacks, you may experience intense head pain and other migraine symptoms for days at a time (sorry, girl!) 


Unfortunately, menstrual migraines tend to be more severe than traditional migraines. As if your regular monthly cramps and PMS symptoms weren’t already bad enough on their own! 


Most women get menstrual migraines as well as non menstrual migraines that occur outside of menstruation. It is rare for women to experience only pure menstrual migraines. 


How Common Are Menstrual Migraines?


You know the old saying “misery loves company?” Well, when it comes to menstrual migraines, you have plenty of company. It’s estimated that up to 36% of women experience migraines (compared to just 6% of men). Of those women who experience regular migraines, approximately 60% of them also get menstrually related migraines. 


Menstrual migraines typically start with a throbbing pain on one side of the head. Then, these migraine headaches usually start to cause sensitivity to sounds and lights, accompanied by nausea and sometimes vomiting. Some women also experience an aura before the rest of their menstrual migraine symptoms set in. An aura is a sensory disturbance that may cause blind spots, flashes of lights, or other vision changes. It occurs in approximately 20% of migraine sufferers. 


What Causes a Menstrual Migraine?


Menstrual migraine pain is typically caused by a drop in oestrogen levels. Right before the period phase of your menstrual cycle begins, your body’s estrogen level drops. This drop is what may trigger hormonal headaches


Another hormone involved in menstrual migraines is prostaglandin. Women with premenstrual syndrome symptoms (such as heavy bleeding and painful cramps) tend to have higher prostaglandin levels than women who don’t experience severe menstrual cycle pain. This means that women with PMS are more likely to also suffer from menstrual related migraines than those without PMS. 


How Can You Prevent Menstrual Migraines?


Since there is a strong link between estrogen and migraines, it’s important to do things that will keep your estrogen hormone balanced if you want to avoid menstrually associated migraines. While hormone fluctuations are natural and unavoidable when you’re a woman of childbearing age or going through menopause, you can take steps to keep your hormone levels from becoming unbalanced. 


If you experience frequent migraines before or during your period, you may want to talk to your doctor about oestrogen supplements. Some doctors may even recommend hormonal contraception to help minimize all of your unpleasant monthly symptoms (including menstrually related migraines). 


Taking a birth control pill may help minimize hormonal fluctuations during your menstrual cycle. Combined hormonal contraceptives use both synthetic estrogen and progesterone to create undesirable conditions for the implantation of an egg. They also prevent ovulation. This means that if you are trying to conceive, it is obviously not a good idea to take oral contraceptives for your menstrual headache issues. 


Some women also discover that taking hormonal birth control makes their menstrual attacks even worse and is not a good method for migraine prevention. If you would rather not take oral contraceptives to get rid of your menstrually related migraine pain, you could experience better results by taking magnesium starting on the 15th day of your menstrual cycle. Continue taking it until your period starts. 


Additional hormonal migraine prevention tips include:


  • Eating healthy foods
  • Avoiding hunger (which can lead to headaches)
  • Getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night
  • Exercising daily (moderate exercise is associated with reduced migraine frequency and intensity)
  • Meditating, doing yoga, and relaxing regularly to reduce stress
  • Keeping your hormone levels in check (especially your estrogen levels)

Want to know another surprising menstrual headache prevention method? Get pregnant! Many women stop experiencing headaches during pregnancy. This may be because estrogen levels steadily rise during pregnancy until they reach their highest level during the third trimester. Since too little estrogen can trigger a true menstrual migraine, the steady rise of estrogen during pregnancy tends to do just the opposite. 


Of course, we realize that not all women are willing to get impregnated just so they can avoid chronic migraine pain. So if you’re not ready to expand your family quite yet, read over these other things you can do to treat your menstrual migraines. 


How Are Menstrual Migraines Treated?


If you have chronic migraine pain, your doctor may recommend that you take Triptans. These are drugs that can help prevent menstrual migraine headaches. But as with oral contraceptives, Triptans don’t come without side effects (what a downer, right?) Some women may experience cramps, nausea, nasal congestion, and dizziness after taking Triptans. 


Hormone therapy is also commonly prescribed to treat menstrual headaches. In the case of women who are going through menopause, hormone replacement therapy may be pushed strongly by certain doctors. But before you commit to any type of HRT, you should familiarize yourself with all the risks and potential side effects. There may be better (and safer) ways to treat hormonal headaches and other symptoms of menopause.


When Should You Ask Your Healthcare Provider About Menstrual Migraines?


There are times when migraines warrant a trip to your healthcare provider. If you have any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment as soon as you can:


  • Disturbing and unusual neurologic symptoms, such as balance or vision problems, difficulty speaking, and mental confusion.
  • A headache that comes on suddenly. 
  • Migraines that increase noticeably in severity and frequency.
  • Different or new symptoms associated with your headaches.
  • The “worse headache of your life.”

If your neurologic symptoms are severe or life-threatening, don’t waste your time trying to schedule a doctor’s appointment. Call 911 right away or have someone take you to the emergency room instead. 


How Can Hertime Help With Hormone Migraines?


Hertime can help with hormone migraines by keeping estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones balanced. In addition to minimizing your monthly head pain, Hertime can also minimize other monthly symptoms that may be causing you grief (here’s looking at you, menstrual cramps!) 


For more information and tips about minimizing your period symptoms, improving your sex life, or boosting your mood, check out Mixhers resources. Our goal is to help you enjoy a happier period and a happier life!