Are Hormones the Cause of Your Migraine Headache Pain?
A person’s first migraine headache will usually appear after puberty and up to the age of young adulthood. They will normally continue until about the age of 50 and then fade away. However, this is not always the case. Migraines can begin in young children and also be experienced by people over 70 years of age.
In children, before the age of puberty, the occurrence of migraine is fairly even between the two sexes. Once puberty is reached the ration begins to change drastically. In adults, women experience migraine headaches three times as frequently as men and would seemingly be due to female hormones. Many experts believe that changes in a female’s menstrual cycle are the reason for the increase. However, due to the fact that there is no known cause, and that many different factors will trigger a migraine headache, determining how female hormones play a role in migraines can be tricky.
It is suspected that migraine headaches in women are related to changes in estrogen levels during the menstrual cycle. Headaches of this type are called menstrual migraines. Immediately prior to the start of the menstrual flow estrogen levels drop. During this period of lowered estrogen levels women often experience migraine symptoms.
Two-thirds of pregnant women will experience the disappearance of their migraine headaches during pregnancy. However, some women will experience their first migraines during the first three months of pregnancy, only to have them disappear after the first trimester.
Research has shown that migraine headaches can be triggered through the use of birth control pills, especially the types that contain high levels of estrogen. Women who take birth control pills with smaller amounts of estrogen will experience fewer headaches, and those who take birth control pills containing progesterone will not experience the side effect of headache. In addition, hormone replacement therapy that occurs during menopause can also lead to migraines in a percentage of women.
The most common approach for treating menstrual migraines is taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, also called NSAIDs. Consumption of NSAIDs are usually started a couple of days before the menstrual period begins and continued until it is over.
Women often experience fluid retention during their period which may be another trigger of migraine headaches. For this reason, it may sometimes help to limit the amount of salt consumed immediately before the menstrual flow begins.
Women who have gone through menopause and who still continue to take estrogen supplements will usually have fewer migraines if they take the lowest dosage possible and keep taking it without interruption. In other words, instead of taking larger amounts of estrogen for a period of time and then taking no estrogen for several days, taking smaller amounts every day can help reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.
When a woman is pregnant it can be dangerous to treat migraines with these types of drugs as well as most other medications and therefore they should be avoided.