We all know that period and PMS symptoms can cause pain and discomfort. For some, though, the pain is more serious. If you’re reading this, you may be one of the few who suffer from migraines during your cycle. The timing of the migraines is likely not a coincidence, either. A drop in the hormone estrogen, which happens right before menstruation, might be the cause of your “period migraines.” Menstrual migraines are real, and there are also real ways to manage and treat them. Here are four things to know about period migraines.
1. Period migraines are caused by changing hormone levels.
Women who experience menstrual migraines often get them anywhere from 2 days before to 3 days after their periods start. That makes complete sense once you realize that anything that changes the level of the hormones estrogen and progesterone can cause these migraines.
As we mentioned, women start to see a drop in estrogen right before menstruation starts. That’s one widely accepted theory of what causes period migraines. Another theory speculates that prostaglandin’s normal release during the first 48 hours of menstruation causes period migraines. When evaluating those two theories against the timeframe in which women most commonly experience period migraines, you can see how they relate. If you’re experiencing period migraines in the days leading up to your period, it may be due to estrogen withdrawal. If your migraines come on in the first few days of your cycle, it’s most likely due to the normal release of prostaglandin.
It’s common for women who suffer from “normal” migraines to also suffer from menstrual migraines. Migraines triggered by hormones can also happen during pregnancy and menopause.
2. Period migraines are an unusual period symptom.
Compared to other common PMS symptoms, period migraines are considered an unusual period symptom. These types of migraines are thought to affect fewer than 10% of women. Compared to “normal migraines,” menstrual migraines often last longer and involve more nausea.
3. Period migraines are different from period headaches.
One common symptom of PMS is headaches before your cycle starts. PMS headaches are very different from period migraines. If you’re unsure which one you’re experiencing, evaluating your symptoms will help you determine what you’re dealing with.
Period migraine symptoms:
- Throbbing pain on one side of the head
- Sensitivity to light and sounds
PMS headache symptoms:
- Joint pain
4. Treatment for period migraines is available.
Don’t be discouraged if it turns out you’re suffering from period migraines. There’s both relief and treatment available. Your options include:
Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen can help lessen migraine severity. Some women who experience period migraines will take ibuprofen according to a pre-determined schedule before the onset of pain to provide proactive relief.
There are a wide variety of prescription drugs available to help relieve migraine pain. If over-the-counter drugs don’t seem to help, make sure to talk with your doctor about prescription options.
Switching Hormonal Birth Control Methods
Hormonal birth control methods, by definition, affect hormone levels. The change in hormone levels resulting from treatment could trigger period migraines. Women experiencing period migraines who are also on hormonal birth control may need to switch to a birth control method with a different hormone dose to avoid migraines. Make sure to talk to your doctor to discover the best alternative methods for you.
Some vitamins and supplements have been found to reduce migraines triggered by hormones, including vitamin b-2, coenzyme Q1, butterbur, and magnesium. Regular exercise can also help, but be sure to start slow and listen to your body to make sure it’s up to the task. Yoga and meditation are other, less strenuous options that can help you feel better.
Experimenting with different treatment options may help you find the best remedy to help reduce or manage migraines. If over-the-counter medications or natural remedies aren’t working, you should make an appointment with your doctor to find a solution that best suits you.
The Kaldas Center is here to help.
No two menstrual periods are the same. If you’re experiencing abnormal, extremely painful periods with symptoms like period migraines, we’re here to help. Call the Kaldas Center at 920-886-2299 to start a discussion about your health and develop a path towards wellness and life-changing relief.