Why Do I Always Get Migraines On My Period

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Menstrual migraine | Why do I get migraines during my monthly cycle | period?

There is always a stress factor at play when we see migraines and menses interacting. Lower the total perceived and experienced stress your body is experiencing by going through different areas of stress in your life and cutting your load. Get adequate rest so your body has time to repair. Hydration to ensure all the necessary minerals are absorbed into your tissues. With stress reduction, sleep, and hydration your body will begin to regulate itself and heal.

How Do You Know If Your Birth Control Is Causing Your Migraine Headaches

If headaches or migraine attacks start or get worse when you start a new birth control method, after an increase in dosage, or improve after a reduction in dosage or stopping the birth control, it’s quite likely that birth control hormones are to blame.

While it’s normal to experience an increased frequency and severity of headaches when you first start birth control, this often improves with time. However, any neurologic symptoms, such as aura symptoms or severe or debilitating headaches, are not a normal birth control side effect, and you should notify your healthcare professional if you experience them.

What Are Rebound Migraines

Women who use acute pain-relief medicine more than two or three times a week or more than 10 days out of the month can set off a cycle called rebound. As each dose of medicine wears off, the pain comes back, leading the patient to take even more. This overuse causes your medicine to stop helping your pain and actually start causing headaches. Rebound headaches can occur with both over-the-counter and prescription pain-relief medicines. They can also occur whether you take them for headache or for another type of pain. Talk to your doctor if you’re caught in a rebound cycle.

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Recommended Lifestyle Adjustments For Migraines And Headaches

Not all lifestyle changes are studied, but these recommendations are fairly standard for how to help you cope with your headaches. Give them a try, see what works best for you.

Get enough sleep: Since fatigue and sleep disturbances are linked to being migraine/headache triggers , be sure to adjust your bedtime accordingly so that you wake up relaxed and well rested. If you commonly have headaches in the morning after waking up, it may be a good idea to get checked for sleep apnea .

Reduce your stress levels: Stress, whether itâs particular events, feelings, or time periods, are linked to triggering migraines and headache . For this reason, stress management techniques like relaxation therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and biofeedback could help . Itâs easier said than done, but prioritize de-stressing as best you can.

Avoid extreme weather: Weather changes, both hot and cold, can trigger migraines and headaches . Check the weather forecast and plan ahead. Be extra cautious about extreme heat and sun exposure, as exhaustion and dehydration can also cause headaches .

Find a dark and quiet space: For people experiencing a migraine headache, light and sound can aggravate migraine symptoms . Some people find relief by lying in dark, quiet rooms.

How Is Menstrual Migraine Diagnosed

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There are no tests available for menstrual migraine. The most accurate way to tell if you have menstrual migraine is to keep a diary for at least three months recording both your migraine attacks and the days you menstruate.

For menstrual migraine to be diagnosed migraine should occur predominately between two days before and up to three days into menstruation, in at least two out of three consecutive menstrual cycles.

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What Are Menstrual Migraine Symptoms

Menstrual migraine feels like any other form of migraine but it tends to last longer and may cause more nausea, Dr. Ailani says. According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Headache Pain, menstrual migraine attacks may even be more painful than other types.2 Typical migraine symptoms include: 1

  • Throbbing, pounding, or pulsating pain on one side of your head or around your eyes or cheeks
  • Head pain that worsens with physical activity
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Head pain that lasts for several hours and up to several days
  • Head pain thats severe enough to make you miss your usual activities

Some people also experience migraine with aura, which is usually characterized by visual disturbances such as flashes of light, dots or blind spots, blurred vision, and vision loss. These symptoms usually show up before the migraine attack and go away in an hour or less. However, according to a 2021 study published in the journal South Dakota Medicine, having a menstrual migraine with aura is not very common.3

I Get Migraines Right Before My Period Could They Be Related To My Menstrual Cycle

More than half of migraines in women occur right before, during, or after a woman has her period. This often is called “menstrual migraine.” But, just a small fraction of women who have migraine around their period only have migraine at this time. Most have migraine headaches at other times of the month as well.

How the menstrual cycle and migraine are linked is still unclear. We know that just before the cycle begins, levels of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, go down sharply. This drop in hormones may trigger a migraine, because estrogen controls chemicals in the brain that affect a woman’s pain sensation.

Talk with your doctor if you think you have menstrual migraine. You may find that medicines, making lifestyle changes, and home treatment methods can prevent or reduce the pain.

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Can Birth Control Help Relieve Migraine Attacks

For many people, birth control actually helps prevent migraine attacks. Consistent, correct use may prevent or reduce attacks by providing a stable estrogen level throughout the month, and decreasing or eliminating the pre-period estrogen plunge that triggers attacks.

When youâre not on hormonal birth control, you experience a surge of estrogen during your menstrual cycle that causes your body to ovulate and release a mature egg. Then if the egg isnât fertilized, estrogen levels drop dramatically before you get your period. The hormones in all combination birth control methods, whether pill, patch, or ring, keep estrogen levels steady to stop an egg from being released, which prevents pregnancy while also preventing the estrogen surge and plunge that can lead to attacks.

Need help finding a birth control that can help you avoid migraine attacks? Nurx can recommend the right birth control for your needs and deliver it to your door.

Complementary Menstrual Migraine Treatments

I get bad headaches during my period. What can I do?

There are many different approaches to help manage menstrual migraine some involve medicinal treatments and others do not. Often it may involve a combination.

Rest assure that it is possible to reduce and in some cases eliminate menstrual migraine. But it may involve working with a specialist and some trial and error.

Complementary approaches for those with menstrual migraine include:

  • Dietary changes
  • Magnesium
  • Other natural therapies

Most women with menstrual migraine have a healthy hormonal balance. However, if there is an imbalance of estrogen in relation to progesterone then a healthy diet is the first step . What we eat plays a huge role in our overall health and wellbeing.

Nothing else affects our health more than what we eat.

If you experience migraine attacks then your diet can be important.

We hear all the time from the health community something like eat a varied and well-balanced diet to help prevent disease. Its been said so many times we can become numb to this important advice.

To complicate things, some healthy foods may also act as triggers. Finding out which foods trigger attacks is not always easy.

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Fats For Progesterone Support

Progesterone is a key hormone that both men and women need which has a large regulation role. It keeps estrogen and testosterone in balance. Some of the best foods to support progesterone are fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, cruciferous vegetables and sulfur containing foods like the onion family and mushrooms, shellfish, oysters and other mollusks, high vitamin C foods like camu camu, sweet potato, strawberries, kiwi, papaya, pumpkin and orange, and super foods like liver.

Is There Any Way To Treat It

You can treat period-related diarrhea the same way you would any other bout of diarrhea.

First, make sure youre drinking plenty of fluids to counteract the fluid loss from diarrhea. As a general rule, youve been drinking enough fluids when your urine is pale yellow.

In addition, its a good idea to avoid foods known to make diarrhea worse, including:

  • artificial sweeteners
  • spicy foods
  • very sugary foods

In rare instances, you may find you need to take over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications, such as loperamide . You can also take also try taking an OTC pain reliever, such as ibuprofen , to help with cramping.

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Relief For Menstrual Headaches

Since period-related headaches are fueled by hormonal changes, it can help to prevent large fluctuations, explained Dr. Woods. “A birth control pill that levels out those hormones throughout the month…can really help,” he said.

Some women report an increase in headaches, though, when taking hormonal birth control medications, the Mayo Clinic reports. Also, some types of birth control may not be safe for women who get migraines with auras, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

If you choose not to or cannot take hormonal birth control, your doctor may advise taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or prescription pain relievers like triptans, which block pain signals in your brain.

Non-drug methods for pain relief are also options. Stress can contribute to headaches, so finding ways to relax during your periodand all month longmay help relieve symptoms. Alternative therapies, including acupuncture, yoga, or hypnosis, may be of benefit, as can applying ice to the affected area of your head. And some people report that strong coffee helps, too.

“There’s no one simplistic treatment that works for everyone,” said Dr. Woods. “It’s often a trial of different approaches until we find something that fits.”

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Keep Your Glutamate Levels Low

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Glutamate has been implicated as one of the main migraine triggers since the 1970s. Our brain has glutamate scavengers that help clear of any excesses of glutamate. One study published in Biology of Reproduction found that estrogen and progesterone are neuroprotective and serve as glutamate scavengers. When these hormones drop dramatically close to the last and first days of the menstrual cycle, glutamate can build up in neurons, causing damage. Avoid any large sources of glutamate or synthetic forms found in eggs, milk, wheat, and soy products.

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What Is Menstrual Migraine

If, like clockwork, you get a migraine around the time of your periodand only during that time of the monthyou may have menstrual migraine. The migraine can start about three days before actual bleeding, can continue while you bleed, and may go on for three days after bleeding ends, Jessica Ailani, MD, a board-certified neurologist at Medstars Georgetown University Hospital, tells SELF. Pure menstrual migraine, when you only get it around your period and no other times of the month, is actually pretty rare. Most women have menstrually-related migraine, which means it happens around their period but also at other times of the month.

Pure menstrual migraine is more common in the teenage years and can progress from there, becoming menstrually-related migraine or even chronic migraine, where you have an attack 15 or more days per month. People going through perimenopausewhen your body is transitioning to menopausecan also trigger menstrual migraines due to fluctuating estrogen levels.1 Its important to note that menstrual migraine can occur in people who were born with a vagina or those who have transitioned, Dr. Ailani says.

Causes Of Headache Before Period

Your migraine before period is most likely linked to the hormone estrogen. This female hormone controls the brain chemicals that affect headache-related chemicals in the brain. When youre experiencing a headache, this means that theres a drop or change in estrogen levels.

Theres a wide range of reasons for the change in hormone levels, including:

  • Menstrual cycle. Prior to your period, estrogen and progesterone fall to their lowest levels.
  • Pregnancy. During the first trimester, estrogen levels rise quickly, then level out. Because of this, many women notice that their migraines get better or go away after their third month of pregnancy.
  • Hormone replacement therapy. The hormones that women take during a replacement therapy can also set off headaches.
  • Menopause and perimenopause. During the years leading to menopause, women have more headaches due to the fluctuating hormone levels. Many women say that their migraines become less severe as they reach menopause.

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What Are Menstrual Migraine Treatments

Unfortunately, menstrual migraine attacks are harder to treat than other types of migraine. They tend to be more resistant to medication and therefore can drag on for several days, Dr. Ailani says. The reason is unclear but it could be because of how estrogen impacts other chemicals in the body.

The good news is there are some targeted strategies that can help. Working with both a neurologist and a gynecologist may also be the best approach to figure out what is best for your specific situation, according to a 2018 study published in Expert Opinion Pharmacotherapy.4Migraine treatment is typically split into two categories: treatment that addresses migraine symptoms in the moment, and preventative treatment to keep them from happening in the first place .

According to the American Migraine Foundation, in-the-moment therapies include:

Why Does It Happen

Why Do I Get Migraines And Headaches From Not Eating And What To Do

Experts dont know exactly why some people have diarrhea during their periods and others dont. Most believe its closely related to an increase in hormones called prostaglandins, which are released before your period.

Prostaglandins cause contractions that help your uterus shed its lining. Sometimes, they also cause contractions in your intestines, which can cause a range of GI symptoms, including diarrhea.

They also reduce the intestines rate of food absorption, which makes food pass through your colon faster. Prostaglandins can also increase electrolyte secretions, which can lead to diarrhea.

Its a pretty common issue, too. A 2014 study involving 156 women found that abdominal pain and diarrhea were the most common period-related GI symptoms.

Of the women surveyed, 24 percent reported diarrhea before starting their periods, and 28 percent experienced diarrhea symptoms during their periods. Those with feelings of depression or anxiety reported even higher rates of GI symptoms.

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Hows A Menstrual Migraine Diagnosed What Tests Are Done

Your healthcare provider will want to establish a history of your migraine-related symptoms, likely asking you to:

  • Describe the severity and location of your pain. Is the pain pounding? Pulsing? Throbbing?
  • Tell how often you get migraine headaches.
  • Remember if anything makes your headache better or worse.
  • Discuss what medications you take to relieve the pain and how often you take them.
  • Talk about the activities, foods, stressors, or the situations that may have brought on the migraine.
  • Remember if anyone in your family gets migraine headaches.
  • Tell how you felt before, during and after the headache.

Your healthcare provider may also order blood tests and imaging tests to make sure there are no other causes for your headache. An electroencephalogram may be ordered to rule out seizures.

Its helpful to both you and your healthcare provider if you keep a migraine journal. Take note of what symptoms you get, how long your symptoms last, and what makes your menstrual migraine better or worse. You and your healthcare provider may be able to use that information to help you heal, and possibly prevent or anticipate your migraine.

What Should You Do If You Think Your Birth Control Is Causing Your Migraine Headaches

If your headaches start or worsen after you begin birth control, you should talk to the medical provider who prescribed it to you, being specific about when in your cycle your headaches occur .

There are a number of approaches that might successfully decrease or eliminate your headaches, especially if theyâre a problem during the placebo part of the cycle.

You can also learn more about menstrual migraine by watching this webinar featuring Cove Medical Director Dr. Sara Crystal.


The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Photo by Angelo Pantazis on Unsplash

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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Other Causes Of Migraine Attacks

Certain risk factors, such as age and family history, can play a role in whether you get migraine or menstrual migraine. Simply being a woman puts you at increased risk.

Of course, you cant control your sex, age, or family tree, but it may help to keep a migraine diary. This can help you identify and avoid triggers.

Contraceptives As A Treatment For Menstrual Migraine


Hormonal contraceptives are a useful option if menstrual migraine is a problem and you also need contraception. Options may include:

Progestogen-based contraceptives to prevent ovulation .

  • These include desogestrel – Cerazette®), the contraceptive implant , or the contraceptive injection.
  • Most women with migraine at any age can use progestogen-based contraceptives – even if they have migraine attacks with aura.
  • The only time you would not be advised to use progestogen-based contraception is if you started to develop migraine attacks with aura only after starting to take one of these types of contraceptive.

Combined hormonal contraceptives also prevent ovulation however, during the pill-free week some women with menstrual migraine will still experience their headaches. Moreover, not all women with menstrual migraine can take these treatments.

In some women with migraine who use combined hormonal contraceptives, migraine attacks are also triggered by the drop in the blood level of oestrogen during the pill-free or patch-free interval.

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