Peri-menopause and Headaches
Peri-menopause marks a time of great change within the hormonal environment of a woman. Her body goes from being in an almost complete state of equilibrium to being unbalanced and symptoms are experienced that had never been heard of or experienced in the past. One of these symptoms includes migraines/headaches.
It has been found that women over 40 years of age suffer from an increased amount of headaches/migraines. In many instances the rise in incidence is not always known however, it is a known fact that fluctuations in oestrogen levels can be a contributing factor.
Although the causes of migraines/headaches can be factors outside of hormonal influences, for the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on oestrogen.
During the menstrual cycle we experience surges and drops in oestrogen and this is a natural occurrence. During perimenopause, there is an increased incidence of headaches experienced. Of all the migraine triggers known, menstruation has a direct link to the risk and persistence of migraines. Too much oestrogen and too little Progesterone (a pattern seen in Peri-Menopause) has been shown to disrupt the menstrual cycle and have been found to be the likely causes of the increased incidence of migraines/headaches in perimenopausal women.
Many studies have found a causal relationship between oestrogen withdrawal in the second half of the cycle (luteal phase) and migraines and headaches during this time. Even though all women experience this drop in the luteal phase, not all women experience a headache/migraine. Studies have shown the reason for this is due to a build-up of oestrogen in the first half of the cycle (follicular phase) and then a sudden drop in oestrogen in the luteal phase. Not all women experience an excess of oestrogen during the follicular phase, and this is why not all women experience a headache/migraine.
Oestrogen has been found to have a stimulatory action on the nervous system which in turn, can also influence the severity and frequency of migraines/headaches.
In order to correct hormonal headaches/migraines, it is essential for the pattern of your symptoms to be determined and in turn, oestrogen can be supplemented accordingly. If there is a build-up of oestrogen or oestrogen sensitivity that may be causing your headaches/migraines, a hormone specific detox may be of benefit.
It is always best to speak to one of the Clinical Team at the AMC to determine there is a possible hormonal link to the cause of your symptoms. In many cases, migraines/headaches may not be caused by a hormonal imbalance and this needs to be investigated further by your GP.
- Martin, V; Behbehani, M. Ovarian Hormones and Migraine Headache: Understanding Mechanisms and Pathogenesis Part 1 and 2
- MacGregor, A. Migraine Headache in Perimenopausal and Menopausal Women.