Migraines are a common and often debilitating condition that affect millions of people worldwide, with three times more women sufferers than men. Many factors that can trigger migraines but the hormonal changes around menopause are sometimes a significant contributing factor. So what exactly is the relationship between migraines and menopause?
Migraines are a particularly severe type of headache often characterised by a throbbing or pulsing pain on one side of the head. There may be a warning “aura” beforehand, such as dancing light in your vision, an unusual smell or even (scarily) drooping of the facial muscles; this can understandably be sometimes confused with a stroke.
Migraines can occur at any time in a person’s life but in women they are most commonly associated with the reproductive years. This is because hormonal changes, particularly fluctuations in estrogen levels, can trigger migraines. It’s literally a “perfect storm” hormonally, which can worsen migraines during perimenopause.
During the menopausal transition, estrogen levels fluctuate significantly as the ovaries stop producing eggs. As a result, women may experience an increase in the frequency and severity of migraines during this time. In fact, research suggests that women are three times more likely to experience migraines during the menopausal transition than at any other time in their lives.
If you are experiencing migraines during menopause, there are some strategies you can use to manage this condition. Here are some tips:
Headaches are common and are usually not a cause for concern, but occasionally they can be a sign of a more severe underlying condition. Here are some signs that a headache may be caused by something more severe: See your doctor if any of the following are happening:
Migraines can be challenging to manage, but with the strategies listed above it is possible to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. If you are experiencing migraines during the menopausal transition talk to your healthcare professional about the best treatment options for you.
A doctor with experience in managing symptoms of the menopausal transition may also be able to offer a trial of hormonal treatments to “level out” the hormonal chaos and ease migraines.
For more information:
Information sheet: hormonal treatment and menopausal migraines from the Australasian Menopause Society
Video from the International Menopause Society
If you can’t find the professional help you need for your menopause or perimenopausal symptoms then book a Telehealth consultation with an expert WellFemme menopause doctor.
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