Migraines & Menopause

Written by cindi pearce
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Migraines & Menopause

Most women are aware that hot flushes and night sweats are the hallmarks of impending menopause. However, many are not aware that migraine headaches often come along with the menopausal territory. The migraines can be so excruciatingly bad that a woman cannot function.

Hormonal Connection

Migraines can be an outcome of peri-menopause and menopause because migraines are linked to hormones. Because of the hormonal connection, that is why women are 5 times more likely than men are to have migraines, according to 34-menopause-symptoms.com (see link in References 1). Approximately 1/3 of menopausal women suffer from migraines.


A migraine can be so bad that it includes nausea, vomiting, throbbing and pulsating pain. The pain gets worse if you move. You have sensitivity to light. It generally occurs on just one side of the head but can affect both sides. It may last from a few hours up to 3 days. Migraines may make an appearance when a woman first enters into peri-menopause, which is the period prior to full menopause. Peri-menopause can last for years.

Oestrogen and Progesterone Going Crazy

Menstrual migraines are much like menopause migraines because they, too, are hormone-related. Menopause migraines are caused by oestrogen imbalance. The brain is affected when oestrogen runs amok (too much, too little) and migraines result. When oestrogen and progesterone levels are doing an erratic tango and are no longer in perfect harmony, this makes the menopausal woman in perfect condition for a migraine. A woman may suffer a headache as the result of declining oestrogen or from escalating oestrogen. The fluctuation of hormones right before menopause can cause severe headaches.

Blood Vessels

Doctors are still trying to determine specifically why hormones cause migraines in women. At this point, the medical community has concluded that oestrogen causes blood vessels to dilate whereas progesterone causes them to constrict. If oestrogen and progesterone are plummeting and then spiking, hour after hour, day after day, this results in a migraine.

Herbs and Food That May Help

Ingesting black cohosh or eating food sources that contain phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds comparable to oestrogen, might help some women keep migraines at bay, according to Headacheexpert.co.uk (see link in References 2). However, other women have reported that phytoestrogens have triggered headaches. A food that contains phytoestrogens is soy. Dong quai, another herb, may also help reduce the incidence of migraines in menopausal women.

Coffee and Tea

Hot coffee or tea may help reduce your migraine pain although some menopausal women say that coffee and tea exacerbate their headaches.

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