How To Relieve Hormonal Headaches
This article was co-authored by Sari Eitches, MBE, MD. Dr. Sari Eitches is an Integrative Internist who runs Tower Integrative Health and Wellness, based in Los Angeles, California. She specializes in plant-based nutrition, weight management, women’s health, preventative medicine, and depression. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine. She received a BS from the University of California, Berkeley, an MD from SUNY Upstate Medical University, and an MBE from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her residency at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, NY and served as an attending internist at the University of Pennsylvania.There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 4,853 times.
If you suffer from hormonal headaches and migraines, you know how they can drag you down. While there’s not one solution that works for everyone, you can try a variety of remedies to reduce the likelihood of developing them and to help with the pain once you get one. Try a few home cures and talk to your doctor about prescription medications that may help. You can also make a few lifestyle changes to reduce your chances of getting a migraine in the first place.
Can Estrogen Levels Cause Headaches
Estrogen dominance is the most common cause of hormonal headaches. This can occur when there is an excess amount of estrogen in your system either because you are making too much, not eliminating it effectively, or are being over exposed to xenoestrogens.
It can also happen if you’re not ovulating or not making sufficient progesterone.
Estrogen dominance is referred to as estrogen excess in medicine and is a diagnosable condition. Sometimes doctors will say they do not believe in estrogen dominance, but this is often because they are not testing correctly or familiar with the diagnosis .
But other hormones can also cause headaches, like your adrenals and thyroid, as well as nutrient deficiencies such as magnesium.
Working with a hormone expert can help you identify the source of your headaches and support you in relieving them for good.
Finding your root cause is important to understand if something bigger is at play.
Ok, so finding the root cause is important and sure Ibuprofen and Tylenol are bad, but when theres pain, whats a girl to do?
Can You Prevent These Headaches
There are a few methods your doctor might suggest.
Hormonal:Birth control pills or estrogen patches and vaginal rings may help lower the number of menstrual migraines you have or make them less severe. But they donât work for everyone. In some cases, they could make your migraines worse.
Your doctor might tell you to stay on birth control for 3 to 6 months without taking any placebo pills. This will prevent you from having a period and may stop your headaches.
If you get migraines with auras, using birth control that contains estrogen and progesterone isnât a safe option. Taking it could make you more likely to have a stroke. Other reasons your doctor may not want you to take birth control for your menstrual migraines:
- A history of smoking
Don’t Miss: Can Tubal Ligation Cause Early Menopause
When Natural Is Not Enough
There are medications you can take to help alleviate headache pain, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, triptans, beta blockers and others. I recommend using medication only if you arent able to relieve symptoms through the methods listed above. Remember, ibuprofen can poke holes in your gut and cause many gastrointestinal issues, and nearly all prescriptions have their side effects. I find regular fish oil works better than ibuprofen.
And while the occasional headache is normal, hormonal-related headaches certainly dont have to be part of your everyday life or monthly cycle. Prevention is the best strategy, and in the long run it will cost you less than the painkillers currently taking up space in your medicine cabinet.
How do you deal with headaches? Do you have any no-fail tips? Share them with me in the comments below.
Medicines That Prevent Menstrual Migraine
Talk to your doctor about whether these medications might help you stop your headaches before they start.
If your periods don’t come on schedule or you also get migraine headaches at other times in your menstrual cycle, you can take preventive medicine every day. Drugs that prevent migraine headaches include:
- Some types of antidepressants
- Some types of antiseizure medicines
- Blood pressure medicines such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers
- CGRP inhibitors, these are a new class of preventive medicine
Devices which may be used for treatment or prevention include:.
- Cefaly, a small headband device that sends electrical pulses through the forehead to stimulate a nerve linked with migraines
- Spring TMS or eNeura sTM, a device for people who have an aura before migraine headaches. You hold it at the back of your head at the first sign of a headache, and it gives off a magnetic pulse that stimulates part of the brain.
- Noninvasive vagus nerve stimulator gammaCore is a hand-held portable device placed over the vagus nerve in the neck. It releases a mild electrical stimulation to the nerve’s fibers to relieve pain.
Recommended Reading: Hormonal Imbalance After Tubal Ligation
Discussing Medical Interventions With Your Doctor
Whats The Best Way To Stop Hormonal Migraines
Written and verified by Holly Hazen
The characteristics of hormonal migraines for millions of women are above and beyond the normal monthly PMS that brings cramps, bloating and irritability.
MILLIONS suffer the brutal throbbing disabling pain, nausea, visual disturbances, isolation, fear, and sensitivities to sound, smell and movement around ‘that time of the month’.
The drop in estrogen’s is blamed in most cases where typically the levels drop a few days before the period begins and can continue on for a day or two after . Estrogen’s because there is more than just one!
You can prevent attacks before or during your period with: NSAIDS , Triptans, magnesium, estrogen or progesterone cream. Here are your best options.
Also Check: Does Estrogen Cream Help Lichen Sclerosus
Oral Contraceptives May Reduce Menstrual Migraine Frequency
There is some evidence to suggest that certain types of oral contraceptive pills can actually reduce the frequency of menstrual migraine and menstrually related migraine, Hindiyeh says.
This doesnt apply to all kinds of oral contraception, so you should talk with your gynecologist, primary care doctor, or neurologist about which ones youd want to consider, says Hindiyeh. There are specific ones that will keep your estrogen level from fluctuating so much, she adds.
If youre considering taking oral contraceptives as a means of birth control or to try to improve your migraine symptoms, tell your healthcare provider about your migraine history, says Hindiyeh.
Managing Migraine In Women Often Means Managing Hormones
Disclosures: We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact .
Prevalence of migraine among women is about three times that of men, and fluctuations in female sex hormones often play a role in the onset of the condition. Women are particularly vulnerable to migraine during the childbearing years, which are also generally the most active and demanding years of a womans life.
The evolution of migraine in women is related to big hormonal times of change. It picks up at menarche and rapidly increases in incidence and prevalence during the teens, 20s and going into the 30s and 40s,Jelena Pavlovic, MD, PhD, of the Montefiore Medical Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told Endocrine Today. In terms of burden, it culminates in the reproductive years, when women need to be the most productive, with young children and jobs.
Pavlovic talked to Endocrine Today about the mechanisms of hormonal migraine, how the condition is diagnosed, and the different treatments that may benefit patients with these debilitating headaches.
What types of hormonal changes are most likely to cause migraine?
How exactly do hormones affect migraine? Which hormones are involved?
This suggests that we need another trigger to come along and tip an already sensitive system over into migraine.
How should hormone-related migraine be treated during the different phases of a womans reproductive life?
For more information:
Read Also: Can Having Your Tubes Tied Cause Hormonal Imbalance
S For Preventing Hormonal Headaches & Migraines Naturally
It Takes Whole Woman Approach
Most experts agree that migraines are not simply a hormonal problem they are the result of the brain’s reaction to a complex interaction among hormones, genetics and environmental factors. And since not all women experience them, one’s internal environment levels of inflammation, genetics, gut health, and other factors influence estrogen levels and also how the brain responds. That’s why in my practice, I always take a whole woman approach to healing.
Hormonal headaches and migraines can make you feel miserable and even make you miss days of enjoying your glorious life. They also have a lot of complex causes including our hormones. Fortunately, theres a lot you can do to prevent them, reducing their frequency, and treat them reducing their severity, your need for medication or possibly become free of them altogether. I recommend giving your plan at least 3 months, using the 6 steps below simultaneously. You do not have to use all of the supplements I list but do make the dietary changes and lifestyle changes and pick 2 to 3 supplements and 1 or 2 herbs to support your journey to overcome migraines.
Step 1. Identify Your Triggers with a Headache Journal
Known migraine triggers, which may be other than or concurrent with hormonal changes, include:
- nitrites found in hot dogs and deli meats
- food additives like msg
What Causes Menstrual Migraine
There is a link between migraine and falling levels of the hormone oestrogen. The natural drop in oestrogen levels before your period starts is linked to menstrual migraine. Women who have heavy and painful periods have higher levels of prostaglandin , which has also been identified as playing a role in a menstrual migraine.
Read Also: Can I Give My Cat Melatonin
How To Prevent Headaches During Menopause
Headaches are a common symptom of menopause. Menopausal headaches can range from mild, dull pain to unbearable migraines that interfere with life. Menopausal headaches are caused by fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone, which cause blood vessels todilate and constrict. Women are five times more likely to get headaches than men, especially menopausal women. There are however, several ways of preventing and managing menopausal headaches.
What Can I Do To Help Relieve The Symptoms Of A Menstrual Migraine
Do your best to figure out what makes your hormone headaches better or worse. For example, if light causes pain and you feel overheated, stay in a cool, dark room. Additional tips include:
- Keep your blood sugar levels up by eating small, frequent snacks. Never miss a meal.
- Learn relaxation techniques.
- Avoid too little or too much sleep, and keep a regular sleep pattern.
- Change your diet, if needed.
- Avoid stress when you can, and learn how to manage it when you cant.
Recommended Reading: Blue Cross Blue Shield Trt
My Periods Stopped Four Years Ago Why Do I Still Get Migraine
Even though your periods have stopped, it can take a few years for the hormone fluctuations to completely settle. This is usually just one or two years, although some women find that they still get hot flushes and migraine ten or more years after the menopause. More often, even when hormonal triggers have settled, non-hormonal ones persist and may even increase post menopause. Chronic medical conditions, while not directly triggering migraine, will make migraine more likely to occur as they generally lower the migraine threshold. Maintaining good migraine habits regular meals, regular exercise, a good sleep routine, balancing triggers, and looking after your general health, are all as important after the menopause as before.
Estrogen And Hormonal Headaches
The female hormone estrogen has been linked to hormonal headaches. Other names you might commonly hear are menstrual migraines or estrogen headaches. Estrogen controls chemicals in the brain that affect the sensation of pain. When estrogen levels drop too low such as before your menstrual cycle this could trigger a headache. I also dont recommend birth control pills to balance out hormones.
You May Like: Can Tubal Ligation Cause Menopause
Triptans Can Play A Preventive Role
But there are certain types of triptans that are longer acting, which can make them useful in helping to prevent a migraine attack or make it less severe, says Hindiyeh.
Your shorter-acting triptans such as Imitrex and Maxalt typically have a half-life of about four hours, she explains. The half-life of a drug is the length of time required for the concentration of that drug to decrease to half its starting dose in the body, according to StatPearls.
There are also triptans that have a longer half-life. For example, Frova has a half-life of 26 hours, and Amerge has a half-life of 6 to 8 hours. These longer-acting ones can often be used as a mini-prophylaxis right around your period, she says.
If you know your period is a big trigger for a migraine attack, you can start taking one of those longer-acting triptans a couple days before your period on a schedule, either every day or twice a day for a few days in row, depending on the medication. This can help prevent the migraine attack from getting so bad, says Hindiyeh.
Hormonal Contraception For People With Migraine
People with migraine with aura are not recommended to use combined hormonal contraceptives . Having migraines with aura is a risk factor for experiencing a stroke , plus taking combined hormonal contraceptives up to doubles that risk . The combination of these risk factors is associated with a 3x increased risk of stroke, compared to people with migraine who donât use combined hormonal contraceptives .
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people with chronic migraine are safe to use certain forms of contraception:
any form of emergency contraception
Most people who experience migraine without aura can use combined hormonal contraceptives, too, as the risk of increased stroke is outweighed by the benefits that the pill offers however, people with other risk factors for stroke, such as older age and cigarette smoking, may be advised not to use combined hormonal birth control .
People with non-migraine headaches do not have any restrictions on hormonal birth control .
Some birth control options may be safer than others, depending on your age and other risk factors . Speak to your healthcare provider to figure out what is the best contraceptive method for you.
to track your headaches and see how they appear in relation to your cycle.
Let’s support one another.
You May Like: What Causes Breakthrough Bleeding When On Bioidentical Hormones
Low Blood Sugar Headaches
If you deal with diabetes or hypoglycemia, its possible your headaches are due to low glucose or low blood sugar. A drop in blood sugar quickly affects the brain and can lead to unpleasant symptoms, including dizziness, confusion, and headaches.
Solution: Start working on lowering your sugar and refined carbohydrate intake. Learn about cooking and eating to keep your blood sugar in balance.
Learn more about how food can help rebalance your hormones by registering for our free, 8-day exclusive viewing of the Cooking for Balance lectures below:
International Classification Of Headache Disorders Iii
A1.1.1 Pure menstrual migraine without aura
A. Attacks, in a menstruating woman, fulfilling criteria for 1.1 Migraine without aura and criterion B below B. Occurring exclusively on day 1 ± 2 of menstruation in at least two out of three menstrual cycles and at no other times of the cycle
A1.1.2 Menstrually related migraine without aura
A. Attacks, in a menstruating woman, fulfilling criteria for 1.1 Migraine without aura and criterion B below B. Occurring on day 1 ± 2 of menstruation in at least two out of three menstrual cycles, and additionally at other times of the cycle
A18.104.22.168 Pure menstrual migraine with aura
A. Attacks, in a menstruating woman, fulfilling criteria for 1.2 Migraine with aura and criterion B below B. Occurring exclusively on day 1 ± 2 of menstruation in at least two out of three menstrual cycles and at no other times of the cycle
A22.214.171.124 Menstrually related migraine with aura
A. Attacks, in a menstruating woman, fulfilling criteria for 1.2 Migraine with aura and criterion B below B. Occurring on day 1 ± 2 of menstruation in at least two out of three menstrual cycles, and additionally at other times of the cycle
Don’t Miss: Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Cover Testosterone Therapy