How can I treat migraine headaches that occur with my menstrual periods?

Dawn Marcus
A number of effective treatment strategies are available for patients with menstrual migraine, including:
  1. Keep track of your headaches using a calendar or diary. Mark down when you have a headache, how severe the symptoms are, whether your usual treatment worked or not, and if you had your menstrual period that day. Keeping track of your headaches through two or three menstrual cycles will help you identify whether you have menstrual migraines.
  2. Maximize your use of non-drug migraine prevention strategies during your perimenstrual time. Talk with your healthcare provider about various treatment strategies if you find that your headaches are consistently associated with having your period. You might consider perimenstrual treatments with hormones, standard migraine treatments, or natural remedies such as phytoestrogens, magnesium, and possibly melatonin.
The Woman's Migraine Toolkit: Managing Your Headaches from Puberty to Menopause (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

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The Woman's Migraine Toolkit: Managing Your Headaches from Puberty to Menopause (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

Migraines are a common, controllable type of headache that affects one in every six women, more than 20 million in the United States alone. The Woman’s Migraine Toolkit helps readers take charge of...
To find relief from symptoms, women experiencing menstrual migraines may explore these options:
  • Self-treating with nonprescription medications, such as combination aspirin-acetaminophen-caffeine preparations
  • Treating with medications prescribed by a physician, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ergotamines, triptans, and others
Menstrual migraine headache can be treated like any other migraine headache. For milder cases, try aspirin or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen, daily during the days before and the week of your period. Birth control pills may increase the frequency or intensity of attacks, which usually occur during the placebo week when the pills don't contain any estrogen. However, low-estrogen birth control pills may prevent menstrual migraine headaches in some women, especially when taken continuously. At menopause, menstrual migraine headaches should improve as long as you don't take hormone therapy -- which may actually increase the frequency and intensity of the attacks.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

A direct connection exists between migraine headaches and the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle. Watch this video by Dr. Oz to learn more about migraines and menstruation and what you can do to help to prevent migraines during your menstrual period.

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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.