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  • Writer's pictureGrace Health

Why Do I Get Headaches During My Period?

If you have experienced headaches around the time of your period chances are you are not alone. In fact, many women who get headaches notice a sort of connection to their periods. Different types of headaches occur during your period. It could be a tension headache that is often caused by stress and feels like a tight band around your forehead or, a headache after your period due to blood loss and a drop in your iron level.

But of the many different types that can occur during your period, a hormonal headache and a menstrual migraine seem to be the most common. While the underlying cause might be the same for both, the symptoms do vary. This article will explain how periods can cause headaches, the difference between headaches brought on by PMS and migraine, and when a person should speak to a doctor.

How are headaches related to periods?

If you were thinking that maybe it is the hormones, then your right! Many of your PMS symptoms are brought about by changes in hormones. Your hormones are bound to fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle and not just when you bleed. Two key hormones, that is estrogen and progesterone are hormones that help regulate the menstrual cycle, and the levels of these hormones may affect the severity and prevalence of headaches. For instance, acute migraine headaches may occur when the level of estrogen in the body drops significantly.

After ovulation hormone levels decline. Estrogen and progesterone levels tend to be at their lowest right before your period. It’s this decrease that makes you more likely to experience headaches. It’s common for women who have headaches during their period to develop one before their cycle, during their cycle, and/or after their cycle.

What’s the difference between a hormonal headache and menstrual migraine?

Perhaps you are reading this and wondering how then can you differentiate the two. The main difference is in the severity of the pain. A hormonal headache may be mild to moderate and cause a nagging ache or throb. It’s a nuisance and uncomfortable, but it might not interfere with your day-to-day routine. On the other hand, a menstrual migraine can be splitting. You’ll be surprised to learn that this type of headache affects 60% of women. It is characterized by severe throbbing that can start on one side of the forehead and travel to the other. The severity can make it difficult to keep your eyes open, work, or even think.

I’m sure you have still heard some men say they have migraine. A menstrual migraine differs from a regular migraine in that it isn’t usually associated with an aura. Aura refers to flashing lights, zigzag lines, or other sensory experiences that some people experience before a migraine attack.

What symptoms should I look out for?

Menstrual migraine symptoms include:

  • Throbbing pain on one side of the head

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Sensitivity to sound

  • Sensitivity to bright light

How can they be treated?

The treatment for a hormonal headache and a menstrual migraine depends on the severity. Over-the-counter pain relievers work well to ease the tension caused by a low iron level. Caffeine is also an effective remedy for hormonal headaches. In fact, some medications for PMS contain caffeine as an ingredient. Eating chocolate and drinking caffeinated tea or soda may help relieve discomfort. However, go easy on the caffeine.

What if the pain is too much?

When the severity of your menstrual migraine is high, over-the-counter medications may not provide the desired results. In this case, your doctor may suggest hormone therapy before your menstrual cycle to help balance your hormone levels. If you use hormonal birth control, skipping the placebo week may also help balance your hormone levels and stop menstrual migraine.

Are there any home remedies I can try?

The following home remedies may relieve a sharp, throbbing sensation and help you manage a hormonal headache.

  • Relaxation exercises - Exercises like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can relax your muscles, reduce tension, and improve headache symptoms.

  • Get enough rest - Not getting enough sleep make headaches worse. Aim for at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

  • Cold therapy - Cold therapy can reduce inflammation and dull the sensation of pain. Wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply it to your forehead (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off).

  • Massage therapy - It promotes muscle relaxation and reduces tension in your shoulders, back, and neck. It can reduce the severity and frequency of tension headaches and migraine attacks.

  • Take vitamins - Vitamins like vitamin B-2, coenzyme Q10, and magnesium may reduce the severity of migraine attacks. Before starting a supplement, talk to your doctor especially if you’re pregnant or currently taking medications.

When should I see a doctor?

if you have frequent and severe headaches during your period it may be time to see a doctor. The headaches may not be related to your period, but rather to a serious medical condition. After examining you, your doctor can discuss the possibility of hormone therapy or prescribe medication.

See a doctor if you have headaches with a combination of any of these symptoms:

  • Double vision

  • Mental confusion

  • Seizures

  • Numbness

  • Trouble speaking

In summary

Hormonal headaches and menstrual migraines are common symptoms for many women around the time of their period. The headaches are brought about by changes in hormone levels. Luckily you can seek treatment both from medication and home remedies if you are experiencing other unusual symptoms with your headaches seek medical attention.

Stay informed, stay in control Have you experienced any of these headaches before?

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