Migraines are the third most prevalent disease in the world, with one in every four households containing someone who experiences them. There are a variety of different migraine triggers, ranging from factors that we can’t control, like family history, to those that we can control, such as the foods and drinks we consume. Today we are focusing on a trigger that many women have to face: the relationship between migraines and hormones. At Triangle Physicians for Women, we are here to support women of all stages of life, so no matter if your migraines are related to menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, we are here to help you handle your hormonal migraines.
The relationship between hormones and migraines
From a biological standpoint, progesterone and estrogen both work to regulate the menstrual cycle, and pregnancy. These hormones can also play a role when it comes to headache-related chemicals in the brain. Hormonal migraines typically occur when the body experiences a change in estrogen levels. While the levels of your hormones may influence the frequency or severity of migraines, the providers at Triangle Physicians for Women can work with you to treat or prevent these headaches, regardless of whether they’re related to menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause.
Migraines during menstruation
The decrease in estrogen levels right before your period begins may trigger hormonal migraines before or during your menstrual cycle. Thankfully, there are many different treatments to reduce the pain, ranging from at-home remedies to prescription migraine medications. Cold therapy treatments like ice packs, relaxation techniques, or over-the-counter drugs like Aleve or ibuprofen may all help reduce the pain associated with headaches. For more severe cases, your provider may prescribe other medications.
Migraines during pregnancy
When you become pregnant, your estrogen levels will increase rapidly and remain high throughout the duration of your pregnancy. This high level of estrogen is likely to improve or even eliminate migraines associated with hormones. If you experience tension headaches or other chronic headaches, make sure you consult your doctor about safe medications or therapies.
Migraines during menopause
While hormonal migraines typically improve when a woman’s menstrual period stops, they may still cause problems in the years leading up to menopause. In addition to the at-home remedies and medications previously mentioned, hormone replacement therapy can sometimes improve headaches in menopausal women.
If you are experiencing multiple migraines a month that interfere with your day-to-day life, talk to your doctor or midwife about a treatment plan. Possible preventative treatments such as a prescribed NSAID or triptan pain reliever taken a few days before the start of your period may be effective in preventing migraines from occurring. In some cases, your provider may recommend certain lifestyle changes, like stress-reducing activities or regular exercise to help improve your migraines.
Your doctor may also discuss hormonal contraception use with you. In some cases, hormonal birth control can help level out estrogen levels and prevent migraines, but in other cases, your chosen birth control method may worsen your migraines. Every woman is different, so at Triangle Physicians for Women, we are here to work with you to find the best treatment for your hormonal migraines.
Talk To An OB/GYN Provider
The team at Triangle Physicians for Women is here for you in all stages of your life and are committed to providing you with comprehensive care. Whether you’re a new patient or a regular with us we strive to offer the highest quality of care. To make an appointment, call the office at (919) 678-6900 or contact us online.