Menstrual Migraine - What is it, Causes, Treatment

Menstrual Migraine - What is it, Causes, Treatment

If you are a migraine patient, you probably know the symptoms - intense and sharp headache, nausea, fatigue and light sensitivity. But if you aren’t a migraine patient and have been observing these symptoms on a select few days of the month, it’s time to take a look at your calendar and ask yourself these questions:

- Do you experience these symptoms around your expected period date?

- Do the symptoms cease to exist after your cycle is over?

- Has it been happening for more than a few months?

Because if it is, chances are that you are suffering from Menstrual Migraine. As if periods were not a headache already!


What is Menstrual Migraine?

Every month, your body experiences a drop of estrogen levels during the week before your period. This can trigger severe headache that starts 2 days before your flow begins and continues for the first 3 days of your period. This headache triggered by the Menstrual cycle is called Menstrual Migraine.


What causes Menstrual Migraine?

The female body consists of two important hormones: Progesterone and Estrogen. Throughout the month, the levels of these hormones fluctuate in relation with each other. If this balance is slightly off for what your body requires, then you may have uncomfortable physical symptoms such as PMS, breast tenderness, headaches and even migraine attacks. Hence, Menstrual Migraine occurs when the body experience a hormonal imbalance in the week before menses.

Usually, women who have a history of hormone fluctuations are at a higher risk of experiencing this condition. Birth control pills can also play a role in aggravating these attacks. For three weeks of the month, these pills keep your hormones in check. But in the fourth week, when you don’t take any pills at all, your estrogen levels can plummet, causing intense headache.

It is advisable to keep a note of your Migraine attacks and your menstruation dates for at least three months to determine if they really are triggered by your hormones.


How can this be treated?

Menstrual Migraines do not have a specific treatment, but they can be managed with the right combination of medicines, alternative therapies and hormone-related strategies.  A few of these include:

- Dietary changes

Avoid foods laced with chemicals like MSG that could result in hormonal imbalance. Also avoid simple carbohydrates, refined sugar and processed foods. Also, pay attention to hydration! Drink lots of water.

- Lifestyle factors

Maintaining a strict sleep routine is vital in controlling migraine. You must get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every day. Regular exercise is also very important as it regulates your hormones and promotes healthy metabolism. But if exercise acts as a trigger to your migraine, take it slow.

- Preventative Migraine Treatments

Both medicinal and non-medicinal treatments can help prevent this condition. Magnesium supplements are believed to be helpful in treating these migraines since a drop in the levels of magnesium could result in migraines. Stress can also be an aggravator in migraines. Hence, stress-reduction exercises, lowering your consumption of Alchohol and Nicotine are advisable. Consult a physician to find the best way of preventative treatments basis your symptoms.

-Medicinal option

Prescribed Triptans and /NSAIDs (non steroidal anti inflammatory) like Ibuprofen, Naproxen etc. can help curb the symptoms and offer relief. If your diet is not vitamin-rich, taking over-the-counter vitamin supplements can also prove beneficial in offering relief.


In conclusion, Menstrual Migraines should not be taken lightly. But before you start treatment, identify that the trigger really is your menstrual cycle. Keep a diary of your dates and attacks. Maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get adequate amount of sleep. And drink lots of water. If in three months your symptoms remain constant, consult a Gynecologist.  


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