Headache and menstruation: how to relieve migraines?

Among the many symptoms that can occur during or a few days before the menstrual flow, we find the famous headache, also called catamenial migraine. It can become very disabling to live with on a daily basis. Fortunately, there are solutions.

What is a period headache?

Period headaches are also called catamenial migraines or menstrual migraines. These are migraine attacks directly related to the female cycle and hormones. Headaches are one of the symptoms of menstruation or premenstrual syndrome.

Many women suffer from these migraines and are apprehensive about their arrival as these headaches can become really disabling in their daily lives.
The particularity of catamenial headache is that it is not accompanied by an aura - that is, it is not accompanied by neurological signs such as visual, sensory or language disorders. On the other hand, this type of migraine can take longer. It is estimated that 20% of women suffer from a type of migraine related to their menstruation such as menstrual migraine. But for women who already suffer from classic migraines, the percentage is 60%. There is also an increase in migraines with the onset of menopause, which is accompanied by several hormonal changes, which will again increase the risk.

What causes headaches during menstruation?

Hormonal fluctuations are the cause of headaches during menstruation, or in the days leading up to their arrival. Indeed, the endogenous estradiol level drops drastically to its minimum on the first day of the period, sometimes even 5 days before. This would be the number one factor that would promote the appearance of headaches. The involvement of progesterone in menstrual migraine attacks remains debated. Some contraceptives, notably the pill, can cause side effects such as headaches. An illness with the same symptoms and fever (flu or other for example) can obviously accentuate these symptoms if it occurs at the same time.

What are the symptoms of a menstrual headache?

Menstrual headache is characterized by pulsating pain on the side of the head that can be aggravated by several factors such as physical activities. The pain is sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light and noise.
These catamenial migraines are therefore recurrent and often more prolonged and intense than migraines occurring outside of menstruation.

Our advice for treating and relieving a headache!

Fortunately, headaches are not a fatality and there are solutions to alleviate the pain and to better live this time of the month. Some doctors will prescribe birth control pills to try to stabilize hormones throughout the month. But you have to be careful because some pills will cause the opposite effect and accentuate the pain. Headaches are even more frequent during menopause. Taking estrogens can help reduce headaches and other symptoms typical of this time in a woman's life.

Rest to reduce stress

Stress is a factor that aggravates headaches. So, it's essential to relax (especially during this period of major hormonal fluctuation when other symptoms are occurring). Sports and practices such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture or hypnosis can help. It's up to you to test which solution works for you to find the most effective and appropriate remedy!
A good night's sleep is also necessary to reduce migraines. Fatigue and stress tend to accentuate or trigger a headache during your period.

Staying well hydrated during the day

If you had to remember only one piece of advice, it would be this: drinking a lot of water helps limit and prevent headaches. It is therefore essential to hydrate your body, especially during this period, even before the onset of menstrual flow.

Limit the consumption of certain foods

As for the digestive problems that can be encountered during PMS, it is important to be careful with what you eat during this period. We therefore advise you to:
Limit youralcohol consumption, since you know that alcohol is responsible for dehydration
Watch your coffee consumption: drink it in moderation because caffeine is known to reduce pain, but also to be a source of dehydration
Prefer fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables

Relieve migraine with cold

If you are prone to a migraine attack, a simple and effective solution is cold. You can put a cold, wet towel on your forehead and temples, or you can use an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to keep it cool.
For an even more effective result, you can put yourself in the dark, in a quiet place with your cold pack. Take the opportunity to relax and take a moment for yourself!

Infusions and essential oils

The benefits of plants are multiple! Certain plants to be used in infusion can help you to attenuate the pains related to the headache! Be careful to make sure that you have no medical contraindications.

For example, you can try chamomile tea and rosemary tea. Both are known for their beneficial effects in case of cranial pain.
Some plants also work very well in essential oils such as peppermint that can be used in massage on the temples. Simply take a drop and massage it into your body, being careful not to put it too close to the eyes or ears. If the migraines persist, peppermint essential oil associated with wintergreen can be considered. This essential oil is known to have pain relieving, anti-inflammatory, rubefacient and antispasmodic properties! Very useful during PMS.

Caution: essential oils, although natural, must be used under medical advice, they have contraindications in some cases.

What to do if the headaches persist?

If, despite this advice, the pain persists, theadvice of your doctor or gynecologist is essential. Having pain to the point that it handicaps your daily life, regardless of where it occurs, is not normal and you must persevere until you find a solution or treatment to better live through this time of the month.

The FAQ of headaches during menstruation

Does menstruation give me a headache?

It is common to have a headache when you have your period or a few days before it arrives. The symptoms obviously vary from person to person. It is the hormonal fluctuations that cause headaches.

Which hormone gives you a headache during your period?

The hormone that would be involved isestrogen, which drops in the second half of the cycle, as the menstrual flow approaches.

How to relieve a menstrual headache?

There are obviously solutions to alleviate menstrual migraines, natural solutions such as essential oils, drinking plenty ofwater etc... or if the discomfort is too intense, a general practitioner or a health professional can prescribe hormonal contraception that will regulate the level of hormones, or treatments with drugs that will reduce pain.

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