There are real health benefits to being female, but not when it comes to headaches, especially migraines. Fortunately, there are solutions.
Many factors contribute to headaches in both men and women, including family history and age. Women, however, often notice a connection between headaches and hormonal changes. The hormones estrogen and progesterone, which play key roles in regulating the menstrual cycle and pregnancy, can also affect brain chemicals linked to headaches.
Stable estrogen levels can improve headaches, while falling or changing estrogen levels can make headaches worse.
Although changing hormone levels can influence headache patterns, you are not completely at the mercy of your hormones. It is possible to treat, or prevent, hormone-related headaches.
The drop in estrogen just before your period can contribute to headaches. Many women with migraines report headaches before or during their period. Your period-related migraines can be treated in several ways. Proven migraine treatments are often effective in treating menstrual migraines. They understand :
Hold a cold cloth or ice pack to the painful area of your head or neck. Wrap the ice pack in a towel to protect your skin.
– Relaxation exercises
Try relaxation exercises to reduce stress.
Biofeedback can improve your headaches by helping you monitor how your body responds to stress.
Acupuncture can improve your headaches and help you relax.
– Over-the-counter pain relievers
Your doctor may recommend that you take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil). These medications may relieve your pain soon after your headache starts.
Your doctor can prescribe these drugs that block pain signals in your brain. Triptans often relieve your headache pain within two hours and help control vomiting.
Your doctor can prescribe drugs from this new group. Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) antagonists are effective for the treatment of migraine.
If you have several terrible headaches per month, your doctor may recommend preventive treatment with NSAIDs or triptans. On the other hand, if you have a regular menstrual cycle, it may be more effective to take headache preventative medicine a few days before your period and continue it until two weeks after your period starts.
If you have migraines throughout your menstrual cycle or have irregular periods, your doctor may recommend that you take preventive medications daily.
Medications to be taken daily may be beta-blockers, anticonvulsants, calcium channel blockers, or magnesium. Changing your lifestyle, such as reducing stress, not skipping meals, and exercising regularly, can also help reduce the frequency, duration, and severity of migraines.
Use of hormonal contraception
Hormonal birth control methods, such as birth control pills, patches, or vaginal rings, can change your headache pattern. By improving or aggravating them. For some, hormonal birth control may help reduce the frequency and severity of period-related migraines by minimizing the drop in estrogen associated with the menstrual cycle.
Using hormonal birth control to prevent period-related migraines may be appropriate for women who have not been helped by other methods. As well as for women who do not have migraine with aura. Migraine with aura is accompanied by sensory disturbances such as flashes of light, blind spots, or other changes in vision. Tingling in the hand or face. More rarely, difficulty using language (aphasia) or weakness on one side of the body.
Women who suffer from migraines with aura are generally advised not to use contraceptives that contain estrogen. If you suffer from migraines with aura, consult your doctor about birth control options. Other women may develop migraines while using a hormonal contraceptive. Although migraine may only appear in the first cycle. If this happens to you, talk to your doctor.
Tips for using hormonal contraception:
– Use a monthly birth control pill with fewer days off (placebo).
– Use low-dose estrogen birth control pills to reduce the drop in estrogen on placebo days.
– Take NSAIDs and triptans on placebo days.
– Take a low dose of estrogen pills or wear an estrogen patch on placebo days.
– If you are using a contraceptive patch, use an estrogen patch on placebo days.
– Take the mini-pill if you cannot take estrogen-progestogen birth control pills. The mini-pill is a progestin-only contraceptive pill.
Estrogen levels rise rapidly in early pregnancy and remain elevated throughout pregnancy. Migraines often improve or even disappear during pregnancy. However, tension headaches usually do not get better because they are not affected by hormonal changes. If you have chronic headaches, before you get pregnant, ask your doctor about medications and therapies that can help you during pregnancy. Many headache medications have harmful or unknown effects on a baby’s development.
After childbirth, a sharp drop in estrogen levels can again trigger headaches. Although you should be careful about which headache medications you take while breastfeeding, you will likely have more options than during pregnancy.
During perimenopause and menopause
For many women who have had hormone-related headaches, migraines become more frequent and severe during perimenopause. Hormone levels rising and falling unevenly. For some women, migraines get better once their periods stop. But tension headaches often get worse. If your headaches persist after menopause, you can probably continue taking your medications.
Hormone replacement therapy, sometimes used to treat perimenopause and menopause, can make headaches worse or headaches better. If you are on hormone replacement therapy, your doctor may recommend an estrogen skin patch. The patch provides a low and steady supply of estrogen. Which is least likely to make headaches worse.
If hormone replacement therapy makes your headaches worse, your doctor may decrease the dose of estrogen. Or switch to another form of estrogen or stop hormone replacement therapy.