Migraines are headaches that bring not only severe pain but other highly unpleasant symptoms.
Did you know that these headaches are especially common in women? In fact, migraines are three times more likely to strike women than men, and girls are more likely to experience migraines at the time of their first menstrual period, and endure them more frequently after puberty.
That makes it no surprise that some women get relief from migraines when they’re able to manage their hormones.
Migraines are a type of intense, recurring headache. They can cause extreme pain that lasts for hours, sometimes even days. Sensory symptoms like sensitivity to light and sound, as well as visual disturbances, usually strike before other symptoms. Migraines cause moderate to severe throbbing or pulsing, usually on one side of the head.
You may experience other symptoms with a migraine, including:
- Appetite loss
Hormones and migraines
An estimated 18% of women, compared with 6% of men, are living with migraines. The impact of hormones shows up not just around menstruation; women find that hormonal contraception, pregnancy, and menopause also influence migraine symptoms.
Researchers are studying the role of hormones in migraines, and while the exact reason hormones impact migraines remains a mystery, studies suggest that fluctuations in the hormone estrogen may contribute to their development.
Women who get migraines tend to notice symptoms right before menstruation starts. This is a time when estrogen levels dip. However, a study published in the 2016 issue of the journal Neurology found that estrogen levels drop faster than normal in women who get migraines. The rapid drop in estrogen may trigger migraine attacks.
This type of migraine strikes two days before and up to three days after menstruation starts. It’s estimated that up to 60% of women who get migraines get menstrual migraines, and many of these women experience migraines at other times of the month as well.
Hormonal birth control
Birth control pills are an extremely common form of contraception. There is a link between hormonal contraception and migraine attacks. Some women experience their first migraine when they begin hormonal contraception.
In other cases, women who get migraines find that their symptoms worsened once they started birth control pills.
Conversely, a small group of women who get migraines find that their migraine symptoms lessen after beginning hormonal contraception. If you suffer from migraines, it doesn’t automatically mean that your symptoms will worsen if you choose hormonal contraception.
If you have migraines, talk to your doctor about the potential impact of hormonal birth control on your migraine symptoms. Mention it to your doctor if your migraine symptoms have worsened since starting hormonal birth control.
Pregnancy and migraines
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect migraine symptoms as well. Estrogen levels rise during pregnancy, and many women find that their migraine symptoms lessen.
Unfortunately, postpartum migraines are common. Those estrogen levels drop back again after pregnancy, possibly triggering or worsening migraine symptoms in some women.
Migraines improve after menopause
During the years when your body transitions to menopause, a time characterized by intense hormonal fluctuations, migraine symptoms typically worsen.
However, once women reach the end of their reproductive years, we find that migraine symptoms let up significantly. In fact, close to 70% of women who suffer from migraines experience improvement or complete relief once they reach menopause.
Regardless of their cause, migraines can greatly interfere with work, school, and your daily activities. At Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare, our expert team can work with you to get to the bottom of your migraines and continue to provide an array of women’s health services.
Reach out to one of our offices in Fayetteville, Newnan, or Stockbridge to schedule an appointment. Give us a call, send us a message here on our website, or use the convenient online booking tool.