How can hormone changes cause headaches in women?

Estrogens have long been linked to headaches, but the reasons behind this association remain elusive. Both the introduction and withdrawal of these hormones, either naturally (during a woman's monthly cycle) or artificially (by starting or stopping estrogen-containing medications) can trigger headaches. Women are more likely to experience migraine and other kinds of headaches around the time of menstruation and, to a lesser extent, ovulation. Migraine headaches that occur in the days before menstruation tend to be particularly severe and incapacitating.

Estrogen levels fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle. The headaches related to hormonal imbalance typically occur in association with drops in the estrogen level. Few women (less than 10 percent) have headaches only with menses. Therefore, in most women, hormones are just one of many migraine triggers.

  • Migraine occurs more often in women than in men.
  • Although migraine headaches are equally common in young girls and boys, the number of girls affected increases sharply after the onset of menstruation.
  • 60 percent of women sufferers related attacks to their menstrual cycle.
  • Migraine attacks may occur several days before or during the woman's menstrual period.

During menopause:

  • One of the most frequently encountered triggers of migraine is changes in estrogen levels.
  • As women progress through their child-bearing years, migraines often are more frequent.
  • As menses cease in menopause, the majority of women experience fewer migraine attacks.
  • Hormonal replacement therapy sometimes causes women to continue with their migraines.

During pregnancy:

  • During pregnancy, medication use is discouraged unless absolutely necessary.
  • The safety of any medication in pregnancy cannot be assured.
  •  Before using any medication for headache, a physician should always be consulted before using medication, including over-the-counter medications.
  •  A non-medicinal treatment program can be effective in pregnancy such as biofeedback.

Women experience tons of hormonal changes, especially due to the monthly menstrual cycle, which can lead to headaches. In this video, I will explain how boosting your magnesium intake—and ginger—can help.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.