A Quick Guide to Menopause Headaches

December 01, 2022.

Migraines are no fun at any age, but they can be especially troublesome during the perimenopausal transition to menopause, making them an unwelcome addition to an already challenging time in a woman’s life. If you’re struggling to keep your peri menopause headaches under control during this time, don’t despair! There are steps you can take to ease the pain and get some relief. Read on for helpful tips.

What Are Migraines and What Causes Them During Perimenopause?

Migraines are a type of headache characterized by pain, nausea, and light and sound sensitivity. They typically affect the head on one side and can last for several hours or even days. For many women, hormonal headaches in perimenopause occur likely due to hormonal fluctuations that occur during this period. Perimenopausal symptoms such as sleep disruption, stress, and hot flashes may also trigger migraines.

How To Tell if You’re Having a Migraine or Just a Bad Headache

If you’ve ever had headaches, you know they can range from mildly annoying to completely debilitating. But how can you tell if it’s just a run-of-the-mill headache or something more intense, like a migraine? Here are a few things to look for:

  • Location: Migraines tend to cause headaches only on one side, while tension headaches usually affect both sides.
  • Intensity: Migraines are often much more severe than tension headaches. When your headache is so bad that it’s preventing you from going about your everyday activities, it’s probably a migraine.
  • Duration: Migraines typically last for many hours (or even days), while tension headaches are shorter-lived.
  • Symptoms: In addition to pain, migraines often cause other symptoms like nausea, dizziness, and hypersensitivity to light and sound. On the other hand, tension headaches are typically less accompanied by other symptoms.

Of course, the only way you can know for sure if you’re experiencing menopause headaches is to see a doctor. But if you’re on the fence about making an appointment, these guidelines can help you figure out if it’s worth it.

Treatment for Perimenopause Headaches

While there is no cure for migraines, some treatments can help lessen their frequency and intensity. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)/ menopause hormone therapy (MHT) can effectively reduce migraines for some women, while others find relief with acupuncture or chiropractic care. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to take the edge off, while prescription medications such as triptans can provide more targeted relief. In addition, prescription medications such as Botox, which can relieve tense, angry muscles, may be recommended for those who suffer from chronic migraines.

A healthy lifestyle with a focus on stress reduction and sleep hygiene can often help to prevent migraines from occurring in the first place. Nonetheless, each woman’s case is unique, so consult your doctor to figure out the best treatment plan for you.

Menopause and Headaches: Prevention Tips

While it is estimated that nearly half of women will suffer from menopause migraines at some point in their lives, there are a few things women can do to try to prevent migraines during this time. First, it’s important to maintain a regular sleep schedule and to get enough rest. That can be easier said than done when hot flashes and night sweats are thrown into the mix, but it’s worthwhile to try.

Second, staying hydrated is crucial, as dehydration can trigger migraines. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can both contribute to dehydration.

Finally, try to manage stress levels, as stress is a common menopause migraine trigger. Exercise, meditation, and deep breathing can all help to reduce stress. By following these tips, you can hopefully reduce your chances of suffering from perimenopausal migraines.

In a Nutshell

There are millions of women affected by hormonal headaches in perimenopause, so know that you’re not alone, and treatments are available to help lessen the frequency and intensity of your headaches. HRT/MHT and over-the-counter medications can be effective for some women but always speak with your doctor or pharmacist before starting or stopping any new supplements or medications. If you’re looking for support and advice from other women who understand what you’re going through, join Perry today. Our online community is dedicated to helping women connect and share advice, tips, and support. Our app is available in the App Store or Google Play Store.

References

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  1. Martin, V. T., Pavlovic, J., Fanning, K. M., Buse, D. C., Reed, M. L., & Lipton, R. B. (2016). Perimenopause and Menopause Are Associated With High Frequency Headache in Women With Migraine: Results of the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention Study. Headache, 56(2), 292–305. https://doi.org/10.1111/head.12763
  1. Shah N, Hameed S. Muscle Contraction Tension Headache. [Updated 2021 Nov 7]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562274/
  1. Harper-Harrison G, Shanahan MM. Hormone Replacement Therapy. [Updated 2022 Feb 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493191/
  1. Suthisisang, C., Poolsup, N., Kittikulsuth, W., Pudchakan, P., & Wiwatpanich, P. (2007). Efficacy of low-dose ibuprofen in acute migraine treatment: systematic review and meta-analysis. The Annals of pharmacotherapy, 41(11), 1782–1791. https://doi.org/10.1345/aph.1K121
  1. Lipton, R. B., Baggish, J. S., Stewart, W. F., Codispoti, J. R., & Fu, M. (2000). Efficacy and safety of acetaminophen in the treatment of migraine: results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, population-based study. Archives of internal medicine, 160(22), 3486–3492. https://doi.org/10.1001/archinte.160.22.3486
  1. Nicolas S, Nicolas D. Triptans. [Updated 2022 Aug 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554507/
  1. Shaterian, N., Shaterian, N., Ghanaatpisheh, A., Abbasi, F., Daniali, S., Jahromi, M. J., Sanie, M. S., & Abdoli, A. (2022). Botox (OnabotulinumtoxinA) for Treatment of Migraine Symptoms: A Systematic Review. Pain research & management, 2022, 3284446. https://doi.org/10.1155/2022/3284446
  1. Ripa, P., Ornello, R., Degan, D., Tiseo, C., Stewart, J., Pistoia, F., Carolei, A., & Sacco, S. (2015). Migraine in menopausal women: a systematic review. International journal of women’s health, 7, 773–782. https://doi.org/10.2147/IJWH.S70073

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Lemetria Whitehurst RN

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