According to The Migraine Trust, 50% of female migraine sufferers believe there to be a connection between their migraines and hormone fluctuations of their periods. Doctors, for years, have been telling these women that their migraine episodes would decrease, even stop, as menopause approached (one pleasant side effect, perhaps, of growing older!). However, a recent study published by Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain (a publication of the American Headache Society) has turned this notion on its head, literally.
According to the new research, of the more than 3,600 females in the study who suffered migraines before and during menopause, the risk of high-frequency migraines (10 or more a month) increased 60% during perimenopause (the stage prior to menopause, which can begin as early as age 35).
Why the increased frequency of migraines during perimenopause? The study authors believe changes in female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) that occur during the perimenopause phase may trigger increased headaches during this time. In fact, the new research found the risk of migraine to be HIGHEST during the later stage of perimenopause when women’s levels of estrogen were lowest.
The end of perimenopause didn’t end the episodes in many. The frequency of migraine increased 76% after menopause. While hormone issues may not be to blame, researchers believe the overuse of pain medication for other purposes (joint or back pain, for instance), can actually trigger migraines after menopause.
If you’re thinking, how am I ever going to cope with hot flashes, night sweats and migraines, here are a few things to consider:
- Researchers suggest consulting your physician to discuss the possibility of hormonal therapies, such as birth control pills or estrogen patches, to help level out hormonal changes that occur during the perimenopause and menopause.
- Reduce the risk of pain medication overuse with a no-pill, topical option for migraine pain relief. Stopain® Migraine (stopainmigraine.com), the first, over-the-counter topical gel formulated specifically for migraine pain relief, contains no acetaminophen, aspirin or caffeine, making it an alternative or adjunct for migraine pain relief. Its rapid onset of action, direct application to the back of the neck and behind each ear, and lack of systemic side effects or drug interactions is appealing to those who want to try it as the first step in migraine pain management before resorting to over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription migraine pain medications.