Headaches and periods : how to relieve them?

Among the many symptoms that can occur during or a few days before menstrual flow is the notorious headache, also known as catamenial migraine. It can be a real handicap in everyday life. Fortunately, there are solutions.


What is a periods headache?

Headaches during periods are also known as catamenial migraines or menstrual migraines. These are migraine attacks directly linked to the female cycle and hormones. Headaches are one of the symptoms of periods or premenstrual syndrome.

Many women suffer from these migraines and dread their arrival, as they can become a real handicap in everyday life.
The particularity of catamenial headaches is that they are not accompanied by an aura - i.e. they are not accompanied by neurological signs such as visual, sensory or language disorders. On the other hand, this type of migraine can take longer. An estimated 20% of women suffer from a type of migraine linked to their menstruation, such as menstrual migraine. But for women already suffering from classic migraines, the figure is 60%. Migraines also increase with the onset of the menopause, which is accompanied by a number of hormonal changes, again increasing the risk.

What causes headaches during periods ?

Hormonal fluctuations are the cause of headaches during periods, or in the days leading up to their arrival. In fact, endogenous estradiol levels drop drastically, reaching their lowest point on the first day of periods, sometimes even 5 days before. This would appear to be the number 1 factor contributing to the onset of headaches. Whether progesterone is involved 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) can obviously accentuate these symptoms if it occurs at the same time.

What are the symptoms of a menstrual migraine?

Headache during periods is characterized by pulsating pain on the side of the head, which can be aggravated by a number of factors, such as physical activity. The pain sis sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting, as well as increased sensitivity to light and noise.
These catamenial migraines are therefore recurrent and often more prolonged and intense than migraines occurring outside the menstrual period.

Our tips for treating and relieving a headache!

Fortunately, headaches are not inevitable, and there are solutions to alleviate the pain and help you get through this time of the month. Some doctors will prescribe contraceptive pills to try and stabilize hormones throughout the month. But you need to be careful, as some pills have the opposite effect land make the pain worse. Headaches are all the more frequent during the menopause. Taking estrogen can help alleviate headaches and other symptoms typical of this period in a woman's life.

Rest to reduce stress

Stress is an aggravating factor in headaches. So it's essential to relax well (especially during this period of major hormonal fluctuation, when other symptoms are also occurring). Sports and practices such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture or hypnosis can help. It's up to you to test which solution suits you best, to find the most effective and appropriate remedy!
A good night's sleep is also necessary to alleviate migraines. Both fatigue and stress tend to accentuate or trigger headaches during periods.

Stay well s'hydrated throughout the day

If you had to remember just one piece of advice, it would be this: drink plenty of water to limit and prevent headaches. So it's vital to keep your body hydrated, especially during this period, even before the onset of menstrual flow.

Limit consumption of certain foods

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

Migraine relief with cold

If you're prone to a migraine attack, a simple and effective solution is cold. You can place a damp, cold towel on your forehead and temples, or opt for an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to make the chill last.
For even more effective results, you can stand in the dark, in a quiet place with your cold pack. Relax and take a moment for yourself!

Infusions and essential oils

The benefits of plants are manifold! Certain herbal infusions can help alleviate headache pain! Just make sure you have no medical contraindications.

For example, you can try chamomile infusion and rosemary infusion. Both are recognized for their beneficial effects on cranial pain.
Some plants also work very well in essential oils, such as peppermint, which can be massaged into the temples. Simply take a drop undiluted and massage in, taking care not to put it too close to the eyes or ears. If migraines persist, peppermint essential oil combined with wintergreen can be considered. This essential oil is renowned for its pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, rubefacient and antispasmodic properties! Very useful during PMS.

Caution: essential oils, although natural, must be used under medical advice, as they may be contraindicated in certain cases.

What to do if the headaches persist?

If, despite this advice, the aches and pains persist, theadvice of your doctor or gynecologist is essential. It's not normal to be in such pain that it disrupts your day-to-day life, wherever you are, and you should persevere until you find a solution or treatment to help you get through this time of the month.

The FAQ for headaches during periods

Does periods give you a headache?

It's common to have a headache when you have your periods or a few days before their arrival. Of course, symptoms vary from person to person. Hormonal fluctuations are the main cause of headaches.

What hormone gives you a headache at periods ?

The hormone in question isestrogen, which drops in the second half of the cycle, as the menstrual flow approaches.

How to relieve a menstrual migraine?

There are, of course, solutions to alleviate menstrual migraines: natural solutions such as essential oils, drinking plenty ofwater etc... or, if the discomfort is too intense, a GP or healthcare professional can prescribe hormonal contraception to regulate hormone levels, or treatment with medication to reduce pain.


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