What is Menstrual Migraine?

Menstrual migraines are suffered by women due to the female hormone estrogen affecting many functions of the brain including how pain is perceived.

In fact, after puberty hits, the amount of female sufferers far outnumbers the amount of male sufferers.

During a woman’s menstrual cycle, there is a drastic change in estrogen and this is when migraine attacks occur most often in females. These migraines that relate to a change in hormones are known as menstrual migraines, although they are sometimes referred to as period migraines.

Facts about Menstrual Migraines

  • Seventy per cent of all migraine sufferers are women
  • Almost twenty per cent of all women suffer from migraines
  • Use of contraceptives may alter the severity and frequency of menstrual migraines
  • Menstrual migraines most commonly occur two days before the period is due
  • Menstrual migraines are generally longer and more severe than other migraine types
  • The first signs of migraine with aura typically occur in girls between the ages of 12 and 13
  • The first signs of migraine without aura typically occur in girls between the ages of 14 and 17
  • Menstrual migraines usually occur with the first menstrual cycle, known as menarche
  • Menstrual migraines generally improve after the menopause
  • The migraine can worsen in the postpartum period, immediately after a woman has given birth

Cause of Menstrual Migraine

There is a general consensus that menstrual migraines are linked with hormones in women, however, no exact reason has been discovered. There is speculation that the pain is caused by over activity in the brain’s network or that a widening of arteries in the brain could be the root of the attacks.

It is possible that female hormones could affect these areas of the brain which would result in severe migraine attacks. It has already been established that ovarian hormones have a major influence on a woman’s nervous system and it is likely these hormones are the cause of menstrual migraines.

Preventing Menstrual Migraines

Different women deal with menstrual migraines in different ways. Some like to take medication during their period only to help ease the pain while others use prophylactic treatment which can be taken before the migraine begins. It is possible to ease menstrual migraine pain with both over-the-counter drugs and prescription treatment.