Migraines in Perimenopause
Migraines affect three times more women than men and are often related to hormonal changes. Many women will begin to get migraines, or will experience a worsening of migraines, as they enter perimenopause. First, what is the difference between a headache and a migraine? Headaches usually cause pain in both sides of the head, temples and maybe neck and shoulders. Headache pain may vary in intensity and usually lasts a few hours A migraine is a neurological disorder where a severe headache is accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, smells or sound. Pain is often throbbing, worse on one side and may last up to 72 hours. Migraine headaches are described as either:
Migraine with aura - visual changes such as flashing light, floating spots etc or Migraine without aura (Classic migraine) or Vestibular migraines - bouts of dizziness or vertigo in people with a history of migraines. These migraines may not include a headache but may be accompanied by nausea, anxiety or light-headedness. Perimenopause may cause a worsening of any type of migraine, this is due to: a) the loss of progesterone and it's protective properties b) "oestrogen withdrawal" - when oestrogen levels suddenly drop - as occurs with fluctuating hormone levels. Menstrual headaches are usually triggered by the sharp decline in oestrogen in the days just prior to menstruation or around Day 1 or 2. Migraines that occur just after menstruation are likely caused by low iron. Menopause Migraines should cease once menopause is achieved and oestrogen levels have stabilised. However, women on HRT are more likely to experience migraines in post-menopause.
Here are 5 ways that may help you manage these migraines, naturally. 1, Magnesium has been found to be effective in preventing migraines by calming the nervous system and reducing inflammation. Magnesium rich foods include: whole grains, pumpkin seeds, almonds, green leafy vegetables, legumes. Talk to your health practitioner about the best magnesium supplement for you. 2. Ginger. Research shows that, while it cannot prevent a migraine, ginger is as effective as a leading pharmaceutical medication in reducing the severity of migraine headache, with fewer side effects. 3. Gluten. If you have experienced symptoms or have a personal or family history of gluten sensitivity, it is worth considering whether gluten may be a trigger for your migraine. You may consider a gluten-free diet, or else refer to your health practitioner for further investigation. 4. Exercise. Regular exercise may reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. Exercise helps to reduce stress + improve sleep (that may trigger migraines) and releases endorphins that act as the body's natural pain killer. 5. Keep a Migraine Diary. Keeping track of your migraines can help to identify possible triggers for your migraines. Include details around: type/quality/location of pain, other symptoms (aura, nausea etc), menstrual cycle (before/start/end of your period), stress, sleep, diet. Knowing the triggers may help prevent the onset future migraines. If you are struggling to manage your migraines or any other symptoms of midlife hormone transition, message me here or book in for a free Discovery Call to find out how I can help.