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Do you suffer from Perimenopausal headaches? Keep on reading to find out why they happen, and what you can do about them.
There are a number of factors that lead to headaches in both male and female, especially when it comes to migraines. However, it is reported that migraines affect women more than men to a greater extent with a female to male ratio of 3:1.
Hormonal fluctuations during a woman’s reproductive cycle may indeed influence a woman’s migraine intensity and occurrence, both in a good and bad way. For instance, those women who experience hormonal headaches can get relief when they have reached menopause. But other women have reported to have a 60% increase in these migraines during perimenopause or at times leading up to menopause.
Symptoms Of Perimenopause
The transitional phase that leads to menopause is known as perimenopause. This can last for either a couple of months or even years as is associated with several different symptoms such as:
- Hot flushes
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweats
- Thinning hair
- Mood changes
- Weight gain
- Memory loss/forgetfulness
- Irregular periods
Learn more here: Signs of Perimenopause.
Having a normal menstrual cycle is possible, though not likely, until your periods completely stop. Some months you’ll experience a normal menstrual cycle and skip it in other months due to hormonal fluctuations. Most people have at least somewhat irregular periods during perimenopause.
When you transition to menopause, your estrogen levels will gradually reduce, though it could happen irregularly. It will also come to a point where your body produces producing less testosterone and progesterone than it did in previous years. These are the kinds of hormonal fluctuations that affect your headaches.
How Menopause Affects Your Headaches
Every woman experiences headaches during menopauses in a number of ways. This means that the changes that each woman goes through during this phase is never the same as the other.
For example, if the headaches you have are hormonal, you may find that upon reaching menopause, the headaches and migraines become less severe and frequent. This is due to your diminishing hormone levels, which in turn reduces their fluctuations once your periods completely stop.
But sometimes, or more often that not, headaches during perimenopause are more frequent or severe. Even women who never had hormonal headaches previously can get them here.
Mark W. Green, M.D., who is the director of the Center for Headache and Pain Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, says that women often report their headaches are significantly worse during perimenopause. This is especially true for those who have had worsening headaches during their periods and ovulation.
Migraines are certain category of headache which are actually more worse in nature. They are specified by an intense throbbing pain on the side of the head and are really sensitive to light and sound.
It is reported that estrogen withdrawal is a common trigger for migraines. This, according to Green, is one of the reasons why headaches aggravate around menstruation. The lack of estrogen in the months leading up to menopause can cause debilitating headaches. This is because during perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone levels decline, which result in worsening headaches.
Can Hormone Therapy (HRT) Affect Headaches in Perimenopause?
You may be prescribed some type of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by your doctor to treat hot flashes as well as other symptoms regarding menopause. But whether this treatment either helps or worsens your migraines depends on how it is applied.
If you’re on HRT and your headaches have indeed worsened, then inform your doctor immediately. Your doctor may recommend you try estrogen skin patches, which may less likely trigger your headaches than other HRT methods. If not that, then there are other options that are available to treat your migraines.
Migraines and Hormonal Imbalance
How to Stop or Reduce Your Perimenopausal Headaches
Fortunately, there are plenty of medications that can help treat or prevent your migraines, whether over-the-counter or via your doctor’s prescription.
Before you start any of these home remedies for perimenopausal headaches, it’s strongly recommended that you check in with your doctor. They may be able to help you regulate your hormone levels, which can help to prevent perimenopausal headaches in the first place.
For physical activities, we recommend 30 minutes of exercise about three to four times a week. Since you’re transitioning from perimenopause to menopause, swimming or spinning classes are great options. If you like something that is more easy and relaxing, then an outside walk is also a good choice.
It’s not a good idea to go for intense workout option right away as it will actually trigger your headache. So the best way to go about this is to let your body gradually warm up to your activity goals.
Diet Changes to Reduce Perimenopausal Heaches
Watching what you eat can have a significantly huge impact on your headaches. But keep in mind that the triggers for your headaches are not the same for other women. That’s why it would do you more good if you kept a diary or a journal with you to see which foods act as headache triggers and which do not.
If you experience any headache hours after you ate, then just write it down. After sometime, you will likely discover a pattern and when you do, try limiting your access to that item. Then see if your headaches are lessened as a result of this.
Some of the most common dietary triggers include:
- Alcoholic drinks like red wine
- Aged cheese such as Parmesan
- Dairy products
Relaxation and biofeedback therapies are also excellent options to help treat people with severe headaches. These techniques allow you to control how your body responds to stress, pain and muscle tension.
Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches you techniques on how to relieve stress and deal with stressors or pain. It’s often recommended that you have to pair CBT with relaxation or biofeedback therapy for the best results.
Acupuncture for Perimenopausal Headaches
Acupuncture is an alternative medicine that can stimulate your body’s energy pathways by using thin needles. This treatment originates from ancient Chinese medicine that is used to treat various kinds of pain. Even though its effectiveness has mixed views, it can be very helpful in easing your headaches.
Some nutritional supplements such as magnesium, vitamin B-2 and butterbur have been successful in reducing headache frequencies. Coenzyme Q10 and Vitamin D may also help, but it would be better to consult your doctor before you add these supplements to your regimen.
Learn more about Perimenopause Treatment Options
For a run-down of the various treatment options, you’ll want to check this out: Everything you Need to Know About Perimenopause Treatment.
Natural Headache Cures
What Must You Do about Perimenopausal Headaches?
It is possible, though not guaranteed, that your headaches may decline after transitioning to menopause once your hormonal fluctuations stop.
But until then, you should collaborate with your doctor to recommend the most appropriate medications or lifestyle changes for you. It’s worth checking in with your family doctor for advice specific to your situation, which is certainly better than any advice you might get from an article on the Internet!
Headaches in Perimenopause: Have your Say!
Do you get perimenopausal headaches? What has worked for you in curing, or better yet, preventing them?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.