Did you know that 7 in 10 people with migraine are women? And that women tend to experience migraine days three times more frequently than men. Among these women with migraine, about 70% report that the frequency and intensity of their migraines are connected with their monthly menstrual period. This finding is not surprising given the intricate relationship between the body’s endocrine (hormonal) and nervous systems.
Researchers have noted that hormonal fluctuations can bring about menstrual (period) migraine. This tendency toward migraine begins to emerge for many girls around the same time as puberty, marked by a surge in the female hormone estrogen.
Studies show that migraine days can occur a few days before, during, or immediately after a woman’s period and or/during ovulation. Symptoms typically resemble migraine without aura — temporary visual or other sensory disturbances that might precede and/or accompany a migraine intrusion — although some girls and women may experience aura as well. Uncomfortable menstrual migraine symptoms can include one-sided throbbing headache, nausea, hypersensitivity to sounds and bright lights, pale skin, fatigue, feeling too warm or cold, and/or loss of appetite.
If you have episodes of menstrual migraine, tracking your menstrual cycle and keeping a headache journal can help you effectively communicate your experience to your healthcare provider. Because hormonal fluctuations cause these types of headaches, and because different medications may potentially have certain side effects, turn to your physician to get an informed diagnosis of your menstrual migraines and help in finding relief.
Let’s look at some typical treatment strategies, as well as some behavioral modifications that may help as you and your doctor narrow down your optimal treatment plan.
Medications shown to be effective for the acute treatment of menstrual migraine (taken as needed once the episode has begun) include:
These medications may also prove useful for short-term prevention, if started a few days before menses begins.
In addition, a 500mg dose of magnesium twice a day (specifically, magnesium oxide for migraine treatment) can be an effective treatment for migraine and cluster headaches. Generally safe, magnesium can cause abdominal cramping and diarrhea, and dosage should be lowered in this case. And because magnesium can also lower blood pressure, your doctor will determine if regular magnesium supplements are a good option for you.
If these options prove ineffective or need to be used too frequently, it might be time to consider some of these preventive treatment options.
Every girl and woman is unique and, because migraine disorder can be a chronic condition, it may be necessary to modify or change optimal treatment strategies over time, as your body changes. For example, if you’re a woman with migraine and want to start hormone replacement therapy to help transition smoothly into menopause, your doctor may prescribe an option with a lower dose of estrogen or have you adopt a more continuous regimen that lessens the effects from shifting hormones.
Preventive treatment options for menstrual migraine include:
Every girl and woman is unique and, because migraine disorder can be a chronic condition, it may be necessary to modify or change optimal treatment strategies over time, as your body changes.
At Mable, we believe passionately that a multi-dimensional approach — an informed combination of lifestyle modifications and pharmacological interventions, tailored to you — can be the best approach to treating your migraine episodes.
Some key recommendations:
Check out the Mable blog for effective yet simple lifestyle modifications and home remedies, as well as an overview of the latest migraine medications.