Hormone Headaches

"It's just my normal monthly headache!"

Do hormone headaches disrupt your life? Hormone headaches can be the worse migraine of all.

As mentioned elsewhere on this site, the most common cause of migraine and other headache types is stress. But the second most common cause of menstrual migraine headache is hormone fluctuations!

For too many years most women were told that monthly headaches associated with their menstrual cycles were "normal". Indeed, I have actually heard doctors say "There is no such thing as menstrual migraine." Hmm.. To this day when I ask women if they have headaches,they say:

"No, just my normal monthly hormone headache."

Well now we know that hormonal headache is just not right. Menstrual migraine is a real diagnosis and those pesky estrogen receptors in the brain have now been located!

(Did you know you have about 5 of them?) To add to that, sometimes birth control pills can cause problems too. This is one of the reasons why teenage girls have such severe headaches..their cycles of hormones are fluctuating so high and so low that the resulting headache can be truly disabling, causing many to lose time from work and family.

As these levels fluctuate, estrogen binds and unbinds from the blood vessels lining the outer coverings of the brain. When this happens the vessels dilate, creating pain. As long as estrogen fluctuates the vessels remain dilated and sometimes medication cannot counteract this effect.

This is one time when preventative treatment may be the best headache medication to restore quality of life.

Most often during adolescent menstrual migraine headaches the treatment is only for a few months as teenagers respond MUCH faster to treatment than adults. Their brains are still growing which could account for such a rapid response.
Read more about girls and hormonal headache.

  • Menopause Migraine Headaches

hormone headache At the other end of the "peri-menopause" menstrual fluctuation is menopause. Also called the menopause migraine headache syndrome, it can result in a change in your headaches. Many women see an improvement in their hormone headaches after menopause.

The hard part is getting there! Perimenopause, like adolescence, results in bigger fluctuations in estrogen and worsening headaches.

If your headaches are beginning at this stage, please talk to your doctor. Many of the alternative treatments discussed on this site may be suitable for you and your headaches.

Please also remember that a new onset of headaches at any age may be an emergency. Information about emergency headaches.

  • Pregnancy And Headache

A final cause of hormone headaches can be pregnancy. Most women will see an improvement during pregnancy for their headaches but unfortunately a small percentage will worsen.

Some women even start having headaches during pregnancy and this could be a serious problem due to other medical conditions.

Pregnancy should be one of the happiest times of your life, not one of the most miserable! Read more about pregnancy and headaches.

  • Treatment of Hormone Headaches

When it comes to treatment, one of the most effective methods is to decrease the frequency of the pain by manipulating your menstrual cycles. The 90 day cycling birth control pill can be quite effective. Although you might still have a menstrual headache while on this, it would only occur 4 times a year, and then can be effectively treated with an abortive medication.

Another option is to try a small dose of an anti-seizure medication as a preventative. For example, many patients who are on Topamax (topiramate) will increase the dose slightly by 25-50mg during the menstrual week. This blunts the headache during that week, and then they reduce the dose back down to where it was originally.

Along the same lines, some women will increase their magnesium during that week only. If on 600mg per day, increasing it to 800mg may be a good treatment. Studies performed involving menstrual migraine demonstrated that women on 800 mg per day had a 50% reduction in their level of head pain during menses.

As you can see, hormone headaches can be managed and it is no longer just something you have to put up with.

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