Don’t Ignore Migraine During Perimenopause

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).

Migraine during perimenopause?

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

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5 comments… add one

  • Lance Chambers Feb 13, 2010

    Headaches is one of the perimenopause symptoms and may be caused by estrogen imbalance which affects the brain but if it is accompanied by fever you should seek your doctor’s attention because it can indicate serious health condition.

  • april Mar 23, 2012

    I have been getting migraine headaches with visual disturbances. The auras occur and then the migraine and nausea occur right afterwards. My question is, are these specific kind of headaches common in perimenopause? Although I have had these very sporadically through the years, I started getting these on a frequent basis over the summer. I am 41 and have begun the perimenopause stage.

    • Lesley Joy Aug 5, 2013

      I frequently suffered from aura migraines with sickness during the perimenopause stage but they have just about disappeared in the last two years. At the time I had no idea they could be related and tried different medication to prevent them to no effect. I found bed and painkillers the only option including spending time on the floor of the office with my eyes covered as I couldnt drive home :)

  • Fran Brusse Dec 21, 2012

    I was diagnosed with migraines in 1987 after many years of “headaches”. I often was in bed, throwing up for 24 to 36 hours. As I was in peri-menopause they got less intense, but more frequent – I started to get them nearly everyday. When I hit menopause I got them and still do, every day. They are less intense, but more frequestn. I have tried everything. Did go to the Diamond Headache Clinic, two other pain clinics, had accupuncture, went to several chiropractors, had cranial massage, tried several preventives, and the list goes on. Now I can no longer afford the medicine that actually works – take the generic with just some relief. I now live on pain pills along with sumatriptan – I only get relief several hours at a time. I do work full-time but do not do much else anymore. My final try may be botox. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who may be having botox treatments.

    • Judi Gantzler Dec 24, 2012

      I’ve had migraines since I first started my cycles. When I got pregnant with my 2nd child, I had about 1 yr of no migraines, but other than that I’ve never been migraine free. Topamax lessened their frequency for a little over a year, but it completely lived up to its nickname of dopamax. I still have horrible brain fog from taking it. Last year we tried a cycle of 3 sets of Botox injections. I had absolutely no good results with it. So after the 3rd round, we chose to forego any further Botox treatment.
      I’d be very interested in hearing other treatment alternatives ppl have attempted to use

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