When it comes to migraines, women are three times more prone to getting them than men. Around 20% of women of childbearing age suffer from hormone-related headaches like menstrual migraine or PMS headache, with 70% of these women suffering from menstrual migraine.
While migraine symptoms differ from one person to the next, they generally include the following:
- Severe headache
- Feeling sick
- Being sick
- Sensitivity to light
While there seems to be no apparent reason for migraines to suddenly occur in some migraine sufferers, there could be triggers for others. If you suffer from migraine, you will eventually find out what your particular triggers are over time and you can make a conscious effort to avoid those triggers.
In the case of a menstrual migraine, a drop in estrogen levels appears to be the trigger. This drop in estrogen level happens right before a period starts. Although it is not low levels of estrogen that causes a migraine headache, it is the change in estrogen levels that trigger the it.
Types of Menstrual Migraine
You are suffering from menstrual migraine if your headaches starts two or three days after your period began and if the headaches last during your perid or for the entire duration.
Two patterns seem to be associated with menstrual migraine:
1. Menstrual Associated Migraine is the most common type of migraine, affecting six in ten women migraine sufferers. It usually occurs before and after periods, as well as other times of the month.
2. Pure Menstrual Migraine affects one in seven women migraine sufferers. This type of migraine only happens during a period.
Identifying Menstrual Migraine
In some cases, it might only be a coincidence if you experience a migraine at the same time as you are having your period. In order for your doctor to give a correct diagnosis, he or she may ask you to keep a record of your migraines for several months. Doing so will help your doctor identify if there is some kind of pattern that exists whenever you have your period and experience migraines.
Treatment of Menstrual Migraines
Painkillers and medication for preventing nausea and vomiting, plus anti-inflammatory agents that are usually for any other type of migraine are used for the treatment of menstrual migraines.
Because of menstrual migraines, some women are unable to work; they are unable to participate in leisurely activities and a variety of general activities every month. While treatment can certainly help, steps on actually preventing the menstrual migraines should be taken.
Since change in estrogen levels triggers menstrual migraines, a solution is the use of estrogen skin patches. Estrogen skin patches are a form of hormone replacement therapy. An estrogen patch is placed on the skin three days before the period begins and remains on the skin for one week. Women who do not like using estrogen patches could use estrogen gel instead. Estrogen gen is applied onto the skin every day for seven days.
Using Contraceptive Pills
While combined contraceptive pills can be used to control migraines, it is important that you do not attempt this one on your own, as it might result in an unwanted pregnancy. It is always a good idea to consult a doctor for advice on this kind of treatment.
- You can prevent menstrual migraines by preventing the period itself. You can do this by switching to a contraceptive that has lower progestogen content.
- The pill should be taken for three packets in a row, which is about nine weeks, then allot seven days where you don’t take any pill at all. This will keep your estrogen level constant, resulting in less bleeds and less frequent migraines. If you get a migraine during each of those seven days where you don't take anything, you can take estrogen supplements instead.
For more help on the prevention, treatment and remedies for migraines please see the Complete Guide To Migraine Headaches.
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