Treating Migraine During Pregnancy Postpartum And Breastfeeding
Between 50 and 80 percent of women have fewer migraines while pregnant and breastfeeding. However, if a woman still has a migraine at these times, treatment can be hard.4
Many migraine treatments are not safe, or have unknown safety, for an unborn baby. Small doses of acetaminophen are thought to be safe. Some migraine drugs may be safe during certain trimesters. It is always better to talk with your doctor before taking any migraine drugs if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.4
Non-drug migraine treatments also play an important role during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Examples include yoga, massage, drinking plenty of fluids, and extra rest. Anything that can help a woman manage pregnancys muscle tension, stress, and lack of sleep can help prevent a migraine.1,4
Apply A Cold Compress
Applying a cold compress to the back of your neck or over the areas you’re experiencing the headache can help reduce inflammation, constrict blood vessels and slow your nerves from firing pain signals.
Cold compresses are excellent for many types of headaches, including migraines, and can provide instant migraine relief at home.
You can make an icepack, soak a washcloth in ice water or throw a bag of frozen vegetables over the area. Be sure to use a towel between your skin and the cold pack and avoid applying for more than 20 minutes at a time. Brain freeze is real.
The Link Between Birth Control And Menstrual Migraines
While hormonal birth control is often prescribed to women with symptomatic periods as a way to mitigate side effects, in many cases birth control has been shown to actually make menstrual migraines worse.
This is often attributed to the withdrawal bleed, which is not an actual period, rather an effect of your placebo week accompanied by a drop in hormones. This drop in hormones can trigger menstrual migraines.
Other women report menstrual migraines as a symptom of coming off of birth control .
Either way, its important to pay attention to how YOU feel and know that there are alternatives that dont come with harmful side effects.
**The CDC advises women on hormonal birth control that experience migraines with auras to discontinue use immediately, as they are at increased risk of blood clotting and strokes.
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Estrogen Excess & The Depletion Of Magnesium
Elevated estrogen levels lead to magnesium deficiencies. It is well-known that a deficiency in magnesium is a risk factor for migraines. Excessive estrogen, however, can also deplete magnesium levels by influencing adrenal function. The excess estrogen places the adrenals into sympathetic mode , leading to severe magnesium wasting .
Natural Home Remedies For Menstrual Migraine Relief
If youre experiencing menstrual migraines, chances are youre also looking for instant relief. While its important to have tools to reduce pain at the onset of menstrual migraines, I also think its just as crucial you have remedies that address the root cause
Below youll find a combination of natural remedies for menstrual migraine relief, including both immediate pain-reducing tips as well as long-term root cause approaches.
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Search Strategy And Selection Criteria
Two independent reviewers conducted a search on PubMed, using their own search string, composed of terms like LH, FSH, Progesteron*, estrogen*, DHEA*, Prolactin, Testosterone, androgen*AND Headach* OR Migrain* OR Tension type OR Cluster. This general search was performed on December 7th, 2017. In light of the large amount of published work on the topic and considering the evolution of the diagnostic criteria over time, the first search was conducted respecting a timeframe of 20 years, covering articles published after January 1st 1997. The initial screening was performed based on eligibility of title and abstract. Exclusion criteria included non-availability of abstract, animal studies, and articles in any language other than English. Original studies, published in full, constitute the core of this review. Other quoted references include systematic reviews, case reports, meta-analysis, Cochrane reviews, letters, lectures and comments. Any relevant publications cited in the eligible articles were also included. Differences between reviewers were resolved by careful discussion.
Why Do Sex Hormones Can Cause An Increase In Headaches And Migraines
A lot of women present to our clinic, describing that their headaches and migraines get worse around the time of their period. But what actually is it that causes the spike in the headaches and migraines and what can you do about it?
Hi, I’m Dr. Katie and I’m an osteopath here at Melbourne Headache Solutions. Today I’m here to talk to you about hormonal imbalances and how they can be affecting your headaches and migraines.
Hormones can affect you in two ways. The first one is that hormones can act as a trigger, just like red wine, cheese, and chocolate can affect certain people. This means that every time your period comes around, your hormones will set off a headache or migraine. If the cause of your headaches and migraine is treated, however, these hormones can no longer act as a trigger causing you these attacks. In this instance, your neck is most likely the problem and needs to be treated, which is what we do here in the clinic. And the second way that your hormones can contribute to your pain is through a hormonal imbalance, which keeps the system sensitized and contributes to your headaches and migraines.
So hormonal imbalances can arise around puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, whole menopause due to the hormonal changes that the body goes through during these significant life events.
So, what can you do to help yourself if you think you’ve got a hormonal imbalance?
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Eat Nourishing Meals Consistently
Skipping meals and not eating enough nutrients contribute to blood sugar imbalances and nutrient deficiencies, as well as put your body into stress/survival mode .
Thus eating nourishing meals throughout the day ensures your hormones are getting what they need to stay balanced and keep menstrual migraines at bay. Aim for lots of cruciferous veggies, beets and high quality fats and proteins, which support your liver in detoxing excess estrogen. For more tips on what to eat the week before and during your period check out this post.
Restorative Reproductive Medicine For Hormonal Headaches And/or Menstrual Migraines
If through charting you discover that your headaches or migraines are associated with fluctuations in your cycle, it is worth finding a medical provider who will dig more deeply into your hormones, rather than override them with the synthetic hormones found in birth control. You may have an underlying issue causing not only your headaches or migraines, but other reproductive issues as well.
A medical provider who takes your hormone-related headache or migraine concerns seriously, and who is trained to read your fertility charts, can order a hormonal panel of blood draws to get to the bottom of your hormonal headaches or menstrual migraines. The results of those draws will help your provider to prescribe bioidentical hormones to assist with balancing your hormonesand your cycleif indicated. These kinds of hormones are often found at compounding pharmacies, which can be found throughout the U.S. and internationally. Bioidentical hormones actually mimic those made by our bodies .
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Migraines Headaches And Hormones
Some people get menstrual migraines, which happen anywhere from 2 days before their period to 3 days after it starts. But periods arenât the only trigger for hormonal headaches. Anything that leads to changes in levels of these hormones could cause headaches or make them worse.
How much hormone levels shift, not the change itself, determines how serious these headaches are.
You Dont Have To Choose Between Pain And Pregnancy
If you are considering getting off birth control to get to the root cause of your headaches or migraines, you may be concerned about the chance of getting pregnant. Fortunately, when you learn a fertility awareness method from a qualified instructor, these methods are as effective as common contraceptive methods when trying to avoid pregnancy. So, you absolutely do not have to give up effective family planning in the process of getting real treatment for your hormonal headaches or menstrual migraines!
In Jessicas case, her physician developed a customized preventative and pro-active approach to treating her menstrual migraines. Jessicas physician directed her to take naproxen and bioidentical progesterone in the days after ovulation and supplement with magnesium during the time of ovulation. In addition, the doctor prescribed her a migraine medication to help the pain and symptoms subside if migraines did occur.
Thanks to her fertility awareness method, and a doctor who knew how to use the information found in Jessicas charts, Jessica is no longer afflicted by frequent menstrual migraines. In fact, she rarely experiences them. Balancing her hormones through restorative therapies significantly decreased Jessicas migraines and dramatically improved her quality of life. She no longer lives in constant worry about when and where she will get her next migraine.
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Natural Remedies For Hormone Headaches
Women dread that time of the month for all sorts of reasons. For some, the worst part is the searing head pain that accompanies Aunt Flos arrival! Studies show that hormonal headaches affect up to 43 percent of womenduring their reproductive years. If you are one of them, then the next time your head starts pounding from your period, put down the aspirin and try some natural remedies for hormone headaches.
What causes hormone headaches in women?
Genetics and poor diet can certainly trigger menstrual migraines in women. Fluctuating hormones can, too. Whenever estrogen or progesterone levels shift, a hormonal headache may follow. These fluctuations are especially associated with:
Hormone headaches in men? Oh yes, it happens!
Men are not exempt from hormonal headaches. For them, the culprit is decreasing levels of testosterone. The gradual decline starts around age 30, and can include a number of symptoms: diminishing libido, erectile dysfunction, changes in sleep patterns, and yes, migraine headaches. Once a man enters andropause cluster migraines can occur. Traditional medical treatment for these male hormonal migraines is testosterone therapy, which is still quite new and risky. For this reason, most men welcome natural alternatives to alleviate the pain.
Are hormones always to blame for all headaches?
Common medical solutions for hormone headaches
Top 7 natural hormone headache remedies
A final word on natural hormone headache relief
Pico Search Engine Construction
The PICO engine of EMBASE was utilized in order to retrieve articles. Our search terms included , , and were kept purposefully broad in order to return as many relevant papers as possible. Suggested synonyms for each term were selected to be included in the search. Papers were then screened in accordance with our PICO framework and inclusion/exclusion criteria to narrow down the search results.
|Population||Menstruating women with menstrual or chronic migraine Postmenopausal women with chronic migraine Pregnant women with history of migraines Transgender men and women with history of migraine|
|Women with non-hormonal chronic migraine Women with non-menstrual intermittent migraine|
|Outcomes||Onset of migraine relative to menstrual cycle|
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Causes Of Hormonal Headaches
Headaches, especially migraine headaches, have been linked to the female hormone estrogen. Estrogen controls chemicals in the brain that affect the sensation of pain. A drop in estrogen levels can trigger a headache. Hormone levels change for a variety of reasons, including:
Menstrual cycle: Levels of estrogen and progesterone fall to their lowest levels just prior to menstruation.
Pregnancy: Estrogen levels rise in pregnancy. For many women, hormonal headaches go away during pregnancy. However, some women experience their first migraines during early pregnancy and then find relief after the first trimester. After giving birth, estrogen levels fall rapidly.
Perimenopause and menopause: Fluctuating hormone levels in perimenopause cause some women to have more headaches. Approximately two-thirds of women who experience migraines say their symptoms improve as they reach menopause. For some, migraines actually worsen. This may be due to the use of hormone replacement therapies.
Oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy: Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can cause hormone levels to rise and fall. Women whose migraines come as a result of hormonal changes while on the pill typically have migraine attacks during the last week of the cycle, when the pills do not have hormones.
Will Birth Control Help My Hormonal Headaches Or Menstrual Migraines
Because hormonal contraception overrides a womans natural menstrual cycle by providing a continuous dose of synthetic hormones, some women may begin birth control as a means of controlling headaches or migraines associated with the fluctuations of a natural menstrual cycle. However, migraine with aura is often a contraindication for the prescription of certain kinds of birth control . And while some women with hormonal headaches or menstrual migraines may experience relief while on birth control, headaches and migraines are also among some of the most commonly reported side effects of hormonal birth control.
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Can You Prevent These Headaches
Aside from preventive medications, certain healthy lifestyle changes may help keep hormonal headaches at bay. Aim for:
- A consistent sleep schedule, in which you go to bed and get up about the same time every day
- Regular exercise
- Good hydration habits, such as drinking 8 cups of water a day
- Eating at regular times through the day and not skipping meals
- Stress management, which could include relaxation techniques
- Avoiding dietary triggers like alcohol and chocolate
Symptoms Of Hormonal Headache
According to the American Migraine Foundation , a menstrual migraine is any migraine that starts between 2 days before a period, to 3 days after the period begins.
When a hormonal migraine occurs, it typically presents as a migraine without aura. However, an aura can occur before the migraine begins. The headache pain will often be severe, throbbing, and start on one side or the other.
Other symptoms may accompany the headache, including:
- sensitivity to light
PMS headaches occur before the period and have different symptoms compared to those of a menstrual migraine. A PMS headache will occur before the period and accompany the following symptoms:
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Hormonal Headache And Menstrual Migraine Treatment
Treatment for your headaches will depend on how serious they are, as well as your general health.
Hormonal headache treatments. An over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen or naproxen may be enough to stop either a PMS headache or a hormonal migraine. Your doctor can prescribe stronger NSAIDs. Many treat period cramps as well as headaches.
If youâre on hormonal birth control and prone to migraine headaches, switching to birth control that contains low amounts of estrogen or only progestin may help.
If youâre having pregnancy-related headaches, talk to your doctor before you take any drugs. Many migraine medicines are bad for your baby. An over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen should be safe, but ask your doctor first.
Many headache medications are safe while youâre nursing, including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, and sumatriptan. But always check with your doctor before you take one.
If you think hormone therapy is making your headaches worse, your doctor may lower the dose, advise you to stop taking it, or change to a different type. An estrogen patch may be a better option than pills. It keeps your estrogen level steady, so a migraine is less likely.
If youâre having surgery to remove your ovaries, your doctor can prescribe an estradiol patch to keep estrogen levels stable and prevent migraines. Or you could take a preventive migraine medication.
- Beta-blocker drugs
- Calcium channel blockers
- Some antidepressants
What Other Hormones Might Be Causing Misery
This research, showing the effect of estrogen fluctuations on the incidence of migraines, is a cautionary tale. Are there other hormones, of the lack thereof, which might cause illnesses or pain? Terri elaborates.
Testosterone is a good example. It is a powerful brain hormone, she noted. Its known as an androgen , and there are androgen receptors on every cell in our body.
Every system in the body is affected by any decrease in androgens. Thus, when there is a testosterone decline in men or women, that person can experience joint pain, depression, a lack of mental clarity, anxiety, insomnia and many other unhealthy conditions.
If migraines are causing you pain, lost work time and ruining your quality of life, your estrogen fluctuations might be causing this condition. Take this simple test to determine your hormone levels.
If you would like to listen to the complete interview with Terri DeNeui, just click on the podcast below.
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The Connection Between Chronic Headaches And Hormones
Women are five times more likely to get headaches than men, which can be directly linked to hormone imbalance. Chronic headaches are classified by how long they last and how often they occur. They must occur 15 days or more per month for at least three months to be considered chronic. Chronic headaches are characterized as the persistent, everyday headaches that typically last a few hours. The primary cause of headaches in women is hormone fluctuations. When hormone levels fluctuate, it can cause intense pain because blood vessels are constantly expanding and contracting.
Can Birth Control Relieve Headaches
Some people find that birth control pills help with their headaches.
Hormonal contraceptives can regulate the menstrual cycle. As hormonal levels become more consistent throughout the month, a reduction in headaches can result.
Some people experience headaches due to low estrogen levels in the last week of their cycle. This can happen, regardless of whether the person is taking hormonal birth control.
One type of hormonal birth control, called a 3-month pill, postpones this drop in estrogen from once a month to once every 3 months. Taking this type of pills can reduce the frequency of headaches related to low estrogen levels.
A birth control pill may contain a combination of hormones or a single hormone. Some people find that pills that contain only progestogen lead to fewer side effects.
A 2013 review of studies noted a small but well-documented increase in the risk of stroke among people with migraines who use birth control that contains estrogen.
However, results of a similar review from 2017 suggest that only people who have migraines with auras are at risk. It is important for a person to describe their migraines to a doctor when discussing birth control options.
A person who has migraines with auras and who takes birth control that contains estrogen may have a further risk of stroke if they:
- are over the age of 40
- have a family history of stroke
Estrogen-free and low-estrogen pills may also decrease the risk of other side effects.
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