Treatment of Hormonal Headaches
A menstruation or hormonal headache is a common, frustrating result of hormonal changes during or before a woman’s period. These debilitating headaches impede and interrupt daily life for many women. Continue reading to accurately identify hormonal triggers for menstrual headaches and the options available for their treatment.
What is a Hormonal Headache, and what causes them?
Hormone headaches are initiated by fluctuations in hormone levels. While the exact hormonal fluctuations vary from woman to woman, a significant decrease in the female sex hormone estrogen at the beginning of each menstruation cycle is a common factor (thus the term “menstruation headaches”). Fluctuation of hormone levels during the menopause is another cause of hormonal headaches.
What are Hormonal Headache Triggers?
The commonality between all hormonal headaches is just that—hormones. Triggers for such menstrual headaches are listed below.
- Birth control pills: Many women report their first experience with hormone headaches after taking birth control pills, while some report changes to their headache patterns from the oral contraceptives. This can be attributed to the hormonal changes the body undergoes when taking a birth control pill, which is why women whose bodies have not been exposed to high levels of specific hormones often react in negative ways.
- Hormone replacement therapy: While hormone replacement therapy is not designed to prevent pregnancy, it too shares the commonality of changing hormones with external estrogen. This can lead to hormone headaches.
- Food: Various foods can contribute to hormonal headaches in some women. Chocolate, for example, is a common food trigger. Cured meats is another common trigger. Skipping meals can also trigger severe headaches; try to eat at regular intervals to avoid this.
- Menstruation: Sharp fluctuations and changes within the body’s endocrine system caused by monthly (or irregular) menstruation is the trigger of menstruation headaches.
Unlike stress or sleep-deprivation caused headaches such as tension headaches or cluster headaches, hormonal headaches can often be charted weeks in advance with a woman’s upcoming period. This offers some relief in knowing what to expect and when, allowing women to take preventative measures to avoid severe headaches.
What are the Symptoms of a Hormonal Headache?
A menstruation or hormone headache can be recognized and differentiated from other headaches using the following symptoms:
- Location: Menstrual headaches usually begin at one side of the head (usually near the temples) and may or may not increase in location.
- Type: As with all severe headaches, dull or throbbing pain is the leading symptom. A feeling of lethargy or dizziness often accompanies hormonal headaches, as well as extreme fatigue. Blurry vision can also be present in some women.
- Severity: The pain associated with a menstrual headache is more severe than that of other headaches and can extend down to the neck. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sensitivity to light, smells, and noise are also common symptoms of menstrual headaches.
- Duration: Hormonal headaches can last anywhere from a few hours to 72 hours or even longer.
Modern medicine has vastly improved the ability to lessen or completely block the symptoms of hormonal headaches. As hormonal headaches can be compounded by stress, addressing the causes of stress may reduce the effects of headaches. The following headache management options may offer some relief for those who suffer from menstrual headaches.
- Apply Ice: Place a wrapped ice pack to the throbbing part of your head or neck. This helps to alleviate pain and constrict dilated blood vessels.
- Meditation: Reduce stress through meditation . Stress is a catalyst for severe headaches of all forms and may be treated through meditation, controlled breathing, biofeedback, and yoga.
- Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise is proven to reduce the severity and the frequency of even severe headaches.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been used for centuries for numerous physical ailments, including hormonal headaches as it helps to relieve pain and calm the body.
- Birth control pills: While birth control pills can trigger severe headaches, they can also help regulate hormones in a positive way. Consult your physician to select a birth control plan that works for you. Continuous contraception involves taking a birth control pill continuously for many months or even a year without a break. This eliminates periods and can eliminate headaches in some women.
- Pregnancy: Two out of three women notice a decline in headaches during pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses, hormone headaches happen less and less, but unfortunately pregnancy is not a permanent solution. Menopause also leads to relief of hormonal and other headaches in two out of three women.
- Food: Knowing your body is the best way to avoid foods that increase the likelihood of a hormone headache. Do not skip meals and be sure to eat regularly. Avoid foods such as sugar, cured meats, foods with preservatives, wine, aged cheese, and chocolate.
In addition to the preventative measures which may be undertaken to prevent severe hormonal headaches, it is possible to treat the symptoms of these headaches as they occur.
The most common treatment for these types of headaches is over-the-counter medication. Many women take medication such as acetaminophen or aspirin to help control the pain of headaches. one of the most effective medication to treat hormone headache symptoms is a strong medicine such as Migralex specifically designed to treat tough headaches. Migralex treats multiple menstruation headache symptoms including pain and pressure to provide a comprehensive solution to hormonal headaches.
Preventive Hormonal Headache Treatment
If you have tried these suggested treatments but still find the pain of hormonal headaches to be unbearable, please consult your doctor. He or she will be able to advise you about other solutions for your headaches.