In their 30s, 40s, and 50s many women become concerned about the symptoms of perimenopause, but for some reason treatment of migraine at this time is sometimes overlooked. The symptoms, which often include hot flushes, breast tenderness, fatigue, and irregular periods, may continue for several months or several years (typically 2-8 years before menopause and the year after cessation of menses).
But with all these symptoms, many women may think that headache naturally comes along with this stage, and some may not even mention it to their doctors. This is a mistake, because headache and migraine symptoms often can be treated and avoided.
Migraine is unpredictable. It’s common in the elderly, but then again many women (thankfully) see a lessening or disappearing of their symptoms during menopause.
But one reason why migraine is so common in women of this age could be perimenopause. This could have something to do with hormonal fluctuations, though the connection should be studied a lot more.
Are you at greater risk?
The studies so far seem to indicate that the group most at risk are women who already have a history of migriane without aura and premenstrual syndrome. If this is you, you have an even more important reason to keep your eyes open to changes in migraine symptoms.
Doctors need to ask the question too. Women may just think headache is s symptom of PMS – some may not feel comfortable even mentioning it. But because it’s so common, and because it can so often be treated so successfully, doctors need to take the lead.
There are many treatments available, from the common medications to magnesium supplements, biofeedback, hormonal replacement therapy, and others.
If you’re experiencing a worsening or change in your migraine symptoms during perimenopause, you’re not alone. Talk to your doctor about the disability you’re experiencing, and don’t just "live with it" as a "normal part of life".
References: Ovarian Hormones and Migraine Headache: Perimenopause by Drs Behbehani and Martin of University of Cincinnati College of Medicine 2006; Migraines by Dr Christiane Northrup accessed October 2009; Migraine headache in perimenopausal and menopausal women. The City of London Migraine Clinic October 2009; Perimenopause Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Women’s Health Center 2006