8 Tips On How To Treat Perimenopause Headaches

December 17, 2019.

Here’s the thing. We know the painful truth behind the perimenopause years. And headaches are just one of the 34 symtoms of perimenopause. But these years do not have to be filled with suffering. These are transitional years, and yep, there are certainly going to be aggravating symptoms that affect you in your daily life. However, you do not have to spend your perimenopausal years suffering. If headaches happen to be one of your battles during perimenopause, this article is for you.

Before diving into ways to alleviate perimenopause headaches, it is important to highlight the various sources and types of headaches that can plague us:

  • Tension

  • Hormones

  • Allergies or sinuses

  • Caffeine

  • Exertion

  • High blood pressure

  • Post-traumatic headaches

  • Rebound headaches

  • Migraines

  • Cluster headaches

According to the World Health Organization, nearly every person will experience a headache occasionally. Although most headaches are benign and at times just part of being human, there are certainly some headaches that need medical attention, including post-traumatic and high blood pressure headaches.

If you find that you have an increase in headache frequency or severity with perimenopause, consider these 8 tips on how to stop perimenopause headaches.

  1. Medication – There are a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications that may help perimenopause headaches. From anti-inflammatories, analgesics, antidepressants, and triptans, to hormone replacement therapy, there are numerous options for medications that can prevent, stop, and improve perimenopause headaches. Meet with your OB/GYN to learn if medication is an option for you.

  2. Supplements and Herbs – Many women report that supplements help relieve some perimenopausal symptoms. Black cohosh, ginseng, St. John’s Wart, Soy, and Vitamin E have all shown varying degrees of symptom relief in limited trials. Yet, word of mouth between peri babes has suggested that supplements may have a more positive effect on symptoms than clinical research demonstrates. Supplements that are indicated for women in perimenopause aim to reduce the symptoms associated with fluctuating hormone levels. Headaches are one such symptom that may be managed or relieved with certain herbs and supplements. There are also combination supplements such as Amberen and Relizen that may provide some headache relief. If you are considering trying a supplement to treat headaches, check with your health care provider first to make sure there are no other interactions with other health conditions you have or medications you already take.

  3. Diet – We are learning more and more every day about how diet impacts our entire being. Many women find that there are certain foods that trigger or relieve their headaches. What works for one woman certainly may not work for the next. For example, some women find caffeine relieves headaches. Indeed, caffeine is commonly found in many migraine medications. However, some women find that caffeine triggers headaches, especially in menopause. To determine whether or not food plays a role in your headaches, keep a food journal to track what you eat leading up to a headache. Perhaps you just need to avoid your favorite nightcap or find a different treat to soothe your sweet tooth. Unfortunately, some of our favorite foods happen to trigger headaches including:

    1. Chocolate

    2. Alcohol, especially red wine

    3. Aged cheeses

    4. Caffeine

    5. Dairy products

  4. Exercise Regular exercise may help prevent headaches. However, starting a high-intensity workout without warming up or without regular physical exercise can lead to a headache. Make sure to properly stretch before and after exercising to prevent tension build-up. The minimum recommendation for exercise is 30 minutes of moderate physical activity three to four times weekly. Are you getting enough physical activity in your day-to-day?

  5. Massage and Acupuncture These therapies have a unique way of repairing the body, and the benefits of both massage and acupuncture go beyond releasing muscle tension. Most women find that massage and/or acupuncture can be great forms of headache treatment alone or in combination with other headache remedies. Results from both therapies can be immediate, however with consistent use, long-term results are more likely. Can’t get to a massage therapist or acupuncturist? Try switching between heat and ice every 20 minutes on your head and neck to reduce inflammation and relax your tense muscles.

  6. Behavioral Therapy – Cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, and relaxation therapies can all be helpful in treating menopause headaches. These therapies aim to teach you different techniques for controlling your physical and mental responses to stress and even pain. For women that have debilitating migraines, behavioral therapy can be a wonderful tool.

  7. Sleep – The majority of us are aware that we need sleep, and many of us admit we need more of it in our lives. The health benefits of sleep are too many to list, but getting enough sleep is essential for stopping and preventing perimenopause headaches.

  8. Reduce Stress – Physical, mental, and emotional stress has a unique way of penetrating every body system. If you find that there are certain habits, patterns, mindsets, or activities that trigger headaches, devote some of your precious energy to figuring out how to limit these triggers in your life.

Many women in perimenopause look forward to menopause because it means that your ticket on the hormone roller coaster expires. Therefore, your perimenopause symptoms should expire too, right? This is not always the case with headaches. And, if you find you are suffering from debilitating headaches during perimenopause, talk with your doctor to see what combination of medications and/or lifestyle changes can help you.

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment. 

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Julia Walker
perry expert Julia (RN, BSN, BA) is a registered nurse based in Colorado. Julia's nursing background in women’s health has ranged from neonatal and postpartum care to labor and delivery, to outpatient gynecological medicine for both adolescent and adult populations. She specializes in helping women optimize their health during perimenopause and beyond.

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