hormonal headache

Finding solutions to hormonal headache ...

Perhaps the main reason why women are the main headache sufferers is hormonal headache. Usually it's not hard to find the link...

"A clue that hormonal shifts may be a factor is if your headaches occur just before your period or during menstruation; this is the case for 60 percent of women with migraines"
~ Dr. Christina Peterson (The Women's Migraine Survival Guide)

Of course, other hormonal changes may also cause headache or migraine.

Related links:

Read more about hormonal headache during pregnancy
Read about headaches during menopause
Menstrual migraine

Hormones that are introduced into the body may also cause headache. A big trigger of hormonal headache for many women are oral contraceptives. That could mean starting them, or even going off them. It's the same thing with birth control patches. Of course, there are two solutions to this - stay off them, or stay on them.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may also trigger migraines, or may alleviate them (read more about that here).

So what's really going on?

Hormonal migraines usually seem to be triggered by changes in estrogen and progesterone levels. There seems to be a link between estrogen and serotonin, a chemical which is believed to be closely related to migraines. At the time in your cycle when the estrogen drops, so does the serotonin. And so, migraine seems to most often occur when estrogen levels, which have just been high, drop. Often a woman will get her first migraine during adolescence for this reason. Before the teen years, males and females both get migraines equally. But after mentruation begins, females get 3x the migraines. Welcome to the world of menstrually related migraines (MRM).

This does not mean changes in estrogen levels cause migraine – we still have a way to go before we understand the cause. But it does seem to be a trigger in some women.

Just to say that I am really happy that I have found a site that I can relate to. I have migraines for 15 years now (they began with my pregnancy), and as much as I realized that it was a matter of hormonal migraines there was nobody in Croatia that I could ask about it. Doctors just sent me for stupid check-ups and then left me with those horrors of three-days pains each month. On your site I finally founded information I needed.

I wish you all the best in life and thank you a million for starting this page.

Best regards.

The types of hormonal headache and migraine

Hormonal headache may or may not be migraine. A headache is a symptom of migraine, but a migraine is a specific disorder and not just a bad headache. A hormonal migraine usually comes in two types:
* Menstrual Migraine: It starts 1-2 days before your period begins and improves after the 2nd-3rd day of menstruation. Occasionally they may happen 1-2 days after your period ends. "True Menstrual Migraine" is when migraine occurs during menses 66% of the time. Read more about Menstrual migraine.
* Premenstrual Migraine: Starts the 7th to 3rd day before your period and ends when the menstrual flow begins.

This does not mean that this is the only type of headache you get, or that you don't get migraines at other times of the month as well. However, this migraine may be the worst.

How is hormonal headache treated?

Quite often NSAIDs are prescribed (that's nonsteroidal anti-infammatory agents). Common ones are Nalfon (fenoprofen calcium), Relafen (nabumetone), ketoprofen, ketorolac, Naprosym (naproxen) and naproxen sodium. A drug containing an ergotamine agent may also be given in small doses (small doses because you could get dependant and then you're back where you started, except taking more drugs!).

The triptans can also be life savers when it comes to MRM. Frova (frovatriptan) has been heavily promoted lately as a treatment.

On July 1, 2003 an important study was presented about the drug eletriptan. The search was on to find a drug well tolerated by women, that worked well during HRT, and that especially worked well during menstruation. Also, they wanted a drug that didn't end up in large quantities in breast milk. Eletriptan seemed to fit the bill.

Eletriptan is sold under the brand name of Relpax. If you're a woman and you haven't tried it yet, it's worth asking your doctor about. Most of the other painkillers mentioned on this site may be useful for hormonal headache. Many over the counter medications are especially good for menstrual migraines, such as Excedrin Migraine.

For preventative measures, most of the common preventative medications for migraine may be tried. Find Excedrin products here.

Estrogen therapy may also be what you need to stop your headache. The goal is usually to keep estrogen levels steady, and this can be done through estradiol gel, skin patches or an implant.

Of course, the first line of defence is keeping yourself healthy overall, and eating a healthy diet. Read more about what you can do at home to fight back.

For more reading on the subject of hormonal headache, try:
The Women's Migraine Survival Guide
Migraines For Dummies
Conquering Your Migraine

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