Menstrual Headache

Menstrual Migraine Symptoms and Treatment

Migraines associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle present in two ways. If your migraines occur only during your menstrual cycle, you have “pure menstrual migraine without aura,” but if they occur during the menstrual cycle as well as at other times, you are likely suffering from “menstrually related migraine without aura.” When you visit the physicians at the Diamond Headache Clinic, you undergo a thorough exam including questions about your medical history and lifestyle. If you suspect that you suffer from menstrual headache, please arrive at your initial visit with a “migraine diary” that shows your headache days and menstrual cycle days. Our expert doctors will determine if there is a link between your migraines and your menstrual cycle.

What Are the Symptoms of Menstrual Headache?

Signs that you suffer from this condition include:

  • Headaches that occur only at the time of your period (from 2 days before to 3 days after the onset of menstruation)
  • Headaches that occur both at the time of your period (from 2 days before to 3 days after the onset of menstruation) and at other times
  • Migraine attacks that occur in at least 2 out of 3 menstrual cycles
  • Symptoms of migraine without aura, including:
    • Pulsating pain on one side of the head
    • Nausea and/or vomiting
    • Increased sensitivity to light and/or sound

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How Is Menstrual Headache Diagnosed?

Your Diamond Headache Clinic doctor conducts a thorough examination to assess your condition and examine your medical history. It is believed that menstrual migraine is caused by a decrease in estrogen level that occurs as part of the normal menstrual cycle and by the release of prostaglandin during the first two days of menstruation, but there are no specific tests for this condition. If you haven’t done so already, you will be asked to keep a migraine diary for three months to see if a link between your migraine and your periods exists. Your diary documents the onset, location and severity of head pain; how long the pain lasts; other symptoms you may be experiencing; and the dates of your period. You should also record when and what you eat, medications, exercise, the weather and any other relevant events prior to the attack.

What Is the Recommended Menstrual Headache Treatment?

Treatment options depend on several factors, including the regularity of your menstrual cycle, whether your periods are painful or heavy, the presence of menopausal symptoms, and whether or not you use oral contraceptives. Based on those factors, your doctor may recommend various treatments to treat your pain and/or to prevent menstrual migraine. Options include anti-inflammatory painkillers, prescription migraine-specific drugs, estrogen supplements and a combined oral contraceptive pill. Because each case is different, our physicians customize a treatment plan to fit the unique condition of each patient.

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