Menstrual migraines affect millions of women every day. They can be sudden and severe, or they can come and go over the course of a week. No matter what the symptoms are, they all have one thing in common. Menstrual migraines affects 60% of women and occur before, during, or immediately after their period, or during ovulation.

The primary cause of menstrual migraine is estrogen the female sex hormone that specifically regulates the menstrual cycle fluctuations throughout the cycle. Once the level of the estrogen and progesterone change, women will be more vulnerable to .

Because oral contraceptives influence estrogen levels, women on birth control pills may experience more frequent menstrual migraine attacks.

Menstrual migraines usually begin in early adolescence or early adulthood. They can last for several weeks or sometimes longer, or they can come and go. For many women, they continue to suffer through their menopause years and beyond, but for others, they are gone for good.

Menstrual Migraines Symptoms

Although only women experience “hormone headache,” both men’s and women’s headaches are prompted by hormones. You would not feel pain without them, because is the hormones that induce the pain response. Actually, the headache may be protecting you or warning you of something more damaging in the same way that touching a hot stove alerts you to the heat and protects you from burning yourself.

Menstrual Migraines

The word hormone is derived from a Greek word that means “to set in motion.” Hormones initiate and regulate many of your body’s functions. For example, metabolic hormones regulate the way your body turns food into energy. Growth hormones control childhood development and maintain certain tissue structures in adults. Regulating hormones determine your femininity, masculinity, and sexuality.

Hormones are manufactured and secreted by your endocrine glands, which include the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, adrenals, pancreas, gonads, and other glandular tissues located in your intestines, kidneys, lungs, heart, and blood vessels. The endocrine system works with your nervous system to keep your body in balance within a constantly changing environment.

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As they interact, your endocrine and nervous systems are responsible for the thousands of automatic responses that regulate your bodily functions. They decide, for example, whether you will respond to a potential headache trigger with an actual sensation of pain.

Menstrual Migraine

Women experience migraine attacks three times more frequently than men do; and, menstrual migraine affects 60% of these women. They occur before, during, or immediately after the period, or during ovulation.

While it is not the only hormonal culprit, serotonin is the primary hormonal trigger in headache. Some researchers believe that migraine is an inherited disorder that somehow affects the way serotonin is metabolized in the body. But, for women, it is also the way the serotonin interacts with uniquely female hormones.

Menstrual migraine is primarily caused by estrogen, the female sex hormone that specifically regulates the menstrual cycle fluctuations throughout the cycle. When the levels of estrogen and progesterone change, women will be more vulnerable to headache. Because oral contraceptives influence estrogen levels, women on birth control pills may experience more frequent menstrual migraine attacks.

Symptoms

These menstrual migraines symptoms can include

  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Muscle tension
  • Weight gain.

Menstrual migraine symptoms are similar to migraine without aura. The migraine begins as a one-sided, throbbing headache accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to bright lights and sounds. An aura may precede the menstrual migraine. The symptoms are triggered by hormones. Hormones come from outside sources, such as food, stress, pollutants and other triggers.

If you’re not familiar with your symptoms, you may wonder if you’re ever going to find some relief. Fortunately, there are several ways that you can treat your menstrual headaches safely and effectively with over-the-counter medications and natural treatments at home.

Menstrual Migraines Treatment

One of the best ways to treat these intense headaches is to treat the underlying cause of your pain. One of the most common causes is hormonal imbalances. For this reason, medications like Propecia and Cyproterone can be effective, but they are also very addictive.

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Medications that have been proven effective or that are commonly used for the acute treatment of menstrually related migraine include

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Dihydroergotamine (DHE)
  • The triptans
  • The combination of aspirin
  • Acetaminophen
  • Caffeine (AAC)

If severe attacks of menstrual migraine cannot be controlled with these medications, consider treatment with analgesics, corticosteroids, or dihydroergotamine. Women who use these often find that they need to take the regularly in order to prevent the headaches from coming on again.

For these reasons, alternative treatments include treating the hormones that are causing the problem in the first place; alternative treatments include natural alternatives like supplements of vitamin E and fish oil, which contain natural progesterone, a hormone that can help to balance out your body’s hormone levels.

For mild to moderate menstrual migraines

Non-menstrual treatments can be just as helpful. Over-the-counter and prescription migraine medicine such as Amerge or Zomig will usually bring some relief, and in some cases, it may even be all you need. Some sufferers prefer to try a herbal remedy, either in combination with their traditional remedies or as an adjunct to their migraine headache treatment.

Valerian is one popular herbal supplement used for menstrual migraines. Others who find no relief from traditional medicines or over-the-counter medications find that adding a bit of Valerian to their daily diet can provide them with long-term relief.

In more severe menstrual migraines, or when the headache or nausea gets worse during the day, an estrogen patch or progesterone cream may be prescribed by your doctor. Most of these estrogen patches come with a three-day supply, and then you have to take it daily, but if you follow the instructions you should be fine.

Estrogen patches work by inserting the hormone estrogen into your vagina. This then helps regulate your period and brings your menstrual cycle into sync with the rest of your body. Although these products do require a monthly insertion, most women find that they can tolerate this quite well and don’t have too much trouble with it.

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Progesterone creams

Progesterone creams are another option for those experiencing menstrual migraines with migraine pain. They’re quite a bit different from the estrogen patches. They are in the form of a cream that you put on top of your period.

A bonus is that progesterone can also reduce the frequency of your period, which can reduce the number of headaches associated with menstruation. This type of treatment is best used with the other two mentioned treatments to bring you the best results.

If the above options aren’t your cup of tea, then perhaps hormone headaches are more to your liking. Again, this type of migraine is more of a “general” type of headache and typically doesn’t involve the menstrual cycle.

However, it can still be very painful as it contains extra hormones that can really irritate your neck and head. You will need to discuss your options with your doctor to see what works best for you.

So there you have it. At this point, you probably want to know which of the three mentioned medications we’ve discussed will best suit your needs, as well as your budget. You should also be aware that there are natural alternatives to these three mentioned medications for menstrual migraines, but that these are far less commonly used.

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