What is a Menstrual Migraine?

Hormonal changes can cause migraines in women. Find migraine relief with Excedrin.

Four out of every ten women suffer from migraines — and more than half of them report a link between those migraines and their monthly cycle. Called menstrual migraines, they typically strike immediately before and after the first day of a woman’s period. They qualify as menstrual migraines if they occur without aura and around the onset of your period during at least two-thirds of your cycles.  1

Signs and Symptoms of a Menstrual Migraine

For many migraine sufferers, a throbbing pain is felt only on one side of the head, often behind the eye or in the back of the head and neck, and generally last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Migraine symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Causes of a Menstrual Migraine

Hormones including estrogen and progesterone fluctuate throughout the course of a woman’s cycle to regulate her ovulation and menstruation. Low estrogen levels, which typically occur at the onset of a woman’s period, may contribute to menstrual migraines. In fact, women are more likely to have had their first migraine during the year of their first period than at any other point in their lives. What’s more, stress — like that experienced by many women during their menstrual cycle — may exacerbate migraine pain.

Treating a Menstrual Migraine

Common migraine treatments, such as holding an ice pack to your head, practicing relaxation exercises, and taking OTC pain relievers such as a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine, can help relieve menstrual migraine symptoms.  2

If you’re unsure about whether you are experiencing a migraine or if menstrual migraines are affecting your quality of life, you might benefit from a discussion with your doctor.

Show References

Hide References

1. Headache Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society (IHS). The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd Edition (beta version). Cephalalgia 2013;33;629¬-808. http://www.ihs-classification.org/_downloads/mixed/International-Headache-Classification-III-ICHD-III-2013-Beta.pdf

2. Silberstein SD, Armellino JJ, Hoffman HD, Battikha JP, Hamelsky SW, Stewart WF, Lipton RB. Treatment of menstruation-associated migraine with the nonprescription combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine: results from three randomized, placebo-controlled studies. Clin Ther. 1999 Mar;21(3):475-91. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10321417



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