Why Do I Get Such Bad Headaches On My Period

You Bleed Through A Pad Or Tampon In An Hour Or Less Your Period Lasts Longer Than Seven Days Or Both

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

The medical term for an exceedingly heavy or long period is menorrhagia. Menorrhagia affects more than 10 million American women each year, or about one in five, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

These are basically periods that would fit right into a scary movie, but some people dont even realize this kind of bleeding isnt normal. One of the biggest problems is someone being so used to heavy bleeding that she underplays the amount, Lauren Streicher, M.D., an associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, tells SELF. Shell come in and say her periods arent too bad, then say she has to change her tampon every hour.

One huge sign you may be dealing with menorrhagia: Passing period clots larger than a quarter, according to the CDC. While thats technically a good sign that your bodys clotting mechanism is trying to prevent you from losing too much blood, it also indicates that youre still passing much more blood than you should, as SELF previously reported. Even if your clots arent that big, soaking through a tampon or pad in an hour or less is a tip-off that your bleeding is too heavy and intense. Bleeding for more than seven days is another period problem that points at menorrhagia, the CDC notes.

Hormones And Head Pain: Whats The Deal

As with most things period related, hormones are to blame. Before your period, estrogen and progesterone levels rise. Then, those levels come crashing down as a signal to your uterus to let that lining go.

This fall in estrogen can trigger headaches. Since birth control regulates this hormonal roller coaster, for some people it can decrease period headaches. For many, birth control makes period headaches worse.

If you have a NuvaRing, headaches during periods are even more common.

Pro tip: If youre already prone to migraines, you should not use the NuvaRing, as it increases your chances of blood clots and continued headaches.

If youre on a hormonal pill based birth control, sometimes skipping the placebo week can get rid of period headaches .

If you noticed your headaches got much worse after starting hormonal birth control, talk to your doctor. You may need to switch pills or your method of birth control to keep headaches at bay.

Though hormones are a background cause of all period headaches, there are four types of menstrual brain pain that are all slightly different.

Symptoms And Causes Of Period Headaches

So what are the symptoms and causes of these headaches?

Do you ask Why do I get these terrible headaches?

If your headaches are actually during your period rather than premenstrual cycle, there are different causes and perhaps symptoms for them. In order to understand lets look at the cycle itself.

Premenstrual : This stage lasts for two to three weeks prior to actually beginning the period of bleeding.

Stage One: This is the Follicular stage when estrogen is increased and lining of the uterus thickens.

Stage Two: This is the Luteal stage when estrogen is decreased and progesterone is increased.

Period: This is the stage of bleeding where the uterine lining, eggs and water is expelled.

Post Menstrual: Some women have symptoms for one to two weeks following the cessation of bleeding.

Various stages in the menstrual cycle are responsible for various symptoms and will respond differently to a potential cure or means to alleviate the symptoms. Many women experience fever and nausea along with the headaches. There can also be a lot of tension during the cycle that can cause these severe headaches as well.

The overwhelming majority of women experience headaches related to their menstrual cycle. The number may be as high as 65-70% of all women have this issue. Headaches tend to show up in the second and third stages of the cycle and can be at their worst right at the end of the Luteal stage before the actual bleeding begins.

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Medicines That Prevent Menstrual Migraine

Talk to your doctor about whether these medications might help you stop your headaches before they start.

If your periods don’t come on schedule or you also get migraine headaches at other times in your menstrual cycle, you can take preventive medicine every day. Drugs that prevent migraine headaches include:

  • Some types of antidepressants
  • Some types of antiseizure medicines
  • Blood pressure medicines such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers
  • CGRP inhibitors, these are a new class of preventive medicine

Devices which may be used for treatment or prevention include:.

  • Cefaly, a small headband device that sends electrical pulses through the forehead to stimulate a nerve linked with migraines
  • Spring TMS or eNeura sTM, a device for people who have an aura before migraine headaches. You hold it at the back of your head at the first sign of a headache, and it gives off a magnetic pulse that stimulates part of the brain.
  • Noninvasive vagus nerve stimulator gammaCore is a hand-held portable device placed over the vagus nerve in the neck. It releases a mild electrical stimulation to the nerve’s fibers to relieve pain.

Ways To Manage Bad Headache During Period

  • There are several ways to relieve a bad headache during period:Your doctor might recommend over-the-counter pills to help with your severe symptoms.
  • Prescription drugs are another possible remedy for a bad headache during period.
  • Certain vitamins and supplements have been shown to relieve headaches. They might include riboflavin, magnesium, and coenzyme Q10
  • Regular exercise.
  • Staying hydrated is essential, as well as eating nutritious meals.
  • You can also try reducing stress. Try relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and breathing exercises
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    Regular Exercise Can Help Prevent Menstrual Migraine

    When we consider all the strategies to prevent migraine attacks, I love it when people choose to make lifestyle modifications that can make a real difference, says Hindiyeh.

    There’s lots of evidence to suggest regular aerobic exercise can work as a preventive medication all on its own, and there are some studies to suggest that yoga and HIIT can be helpful as well, says Hindiyeh.


    Not only can regular exercise help prevent migraine attacks for some people, but also, if the headache is mild, a short bout of exercise can actually help relieve that headache that’s happening, according to Hindiyeh.

    On the other hand, overexerting yourself can be a trigger for migraine, especially if you are already having a migraine attack, she says.

    One of the cardinal definitions and features of migraine is that normal activity can make you feel worse. If you’re already in the middle of a severe migraine attack, moving around excessively is going to make things worse for you its probably not the best time to go for a jog or do some aerobic activity, says Hindiyeh.

    What Causes Menstrual Migraine

    There is a link between migraine and falling levels of the hormone oestrogen. The natural drop in oestrogen levels before your period starts is linked to menstrual migraine. Women who have heavy and painful periods have higher levels of prostaglandin , which has also been identified as playing a role in a menstrual migraine.

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    How To Prevent Headaches

    When debating how to prevent headaches, the easy answer is to try to avoid the causes of headaches in the first place. But doing that takes careful planning. You’ll have to note your triggers first, and write down the characteristics of your headaches, including their frequency, duration, intensity, as well the circumstances surrounding your headaches, including:

    • your medications

    Diarrhea Before Your Period

    Headache | Migraine | How To Get Rid Of Headaches

    Cramps, bloating, back pain, sore breasts, and mood swings are all common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome . Diarrhea is another symptom you might experience before getting your period.

    If youve found that your diarrhea appears before your period, youre not alone. Many people experience severe diarrhea with PMS. Your menstrual cycle and digestive system are closely linked.

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    Hormonal Contraception For People With Migraine

    People with migraine with aura are not recommended to use combined hormonal contraceptives . Having migraines with aura is a risk factor for experiencing a stroke , plus taking combined hormonal contraceptives up to doubles that risk . The combination of these risk factors is associated with a 3x increased risk of stroke, compared to people with migraine who donât use combined hormonal contraceptives .

    The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people with chronic migraine are safe to use certain forms of contraception:

    Most people who experience migraine without aura can use combined hormonal contraceptives, too, as the risk of increased stroke is outweighed by the benefits that the pill offers however, people with other risk factors for stroke, such as older age and cigarette smoking, may be advised not to use combined hormonal birth control .

    People with non-migraine headaches do not have any restrictions on hormonal birth control .

    Some birth control options may be safer than others, depending on your age and other risk factors . Speak to your healthcare provider to figure out what is the best contraceptive method for you.

    to track your headaches and see how they appear in relation to your cycle.

    Let’s support one another.

    What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Menstrual Migraines

    • Am I experiencing a menstrual migraine or another type of migraine?
    • Should I change any of the medications Im taking?
    • What treatment do you recommend?
    • What medications should I take?

    A note from Cleveland Clinic

    A migraine is more than a bad headache. Not only can menstrual migraines get severe, but women have reported that they can be even worse than a migraine that occurs when theyre not on their period. Talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms. There are preventative measures and treatment options. A menstrual migraine might not be something you just have to live with every month.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/03/2021.


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    What Is The Relationship Between Migraine Aura And Birth Control Is Birth Control Risky For Women Who Experience Aura

    About 20% of people with migraines experience aura, which is typically a warning that the headache itself is about to come on â although sometimes an aura occurs without the headache pain itself.

    An aura can include unusual sensory changes such as seeing flashes of light, lines, zigzags or other visual changes, which is called a visual aura, unusual smells or sensations, and sometimes even numbness or weakness in their face, an inability to speak or understand words, and other unusual sensory symptoms.

    Women who experience âmigraine with aura,â or any changes in vision before or with their headache, should not use any form of birth control containing estrogen, as the estrogen may increase the risk of stroke for these women.

    But there are many safe birth control options for women who experience aura, including progestin-only pills , birth control shots, an intrauterine device , a contraceptive implant, or barrier methods like condoms, spermicides, a diaphragm, or a cervical cap.

    But many women who suffer migraines without auras can safely use all birth control methods, including combination hormonal methods like birth control pills, the patch, and the ring.

    Avoiding Pain Is Easier When You Understand How To Prevent Headaches

    Celromance: Is It Bad Not To Have Your Period

    It’s hard to think about the causes of headaches when you’re struggling with pain. Once you’re feeling better, figuring out what leads to the agony can help you dodge it in the future. This requires you to pay attention to the environment, eating habits, and activities that spark headache discomfort.

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    Take The Same Medications Youd Take For Normal Migraines

    Your doctor can also prescribe triptans, which are drugs that reduce inflammation by restricting blood vessels. They work as well or better than over-the-counter meds, but because of their effect on blood vessels they cant be used by people with coronary heart disease, a risk of stroke or uncontrolled high blood pressure.

    You can prevent migraines completely, and you can stop head pain from developing into a full-blown migraine, Halker says. All it takes is a little bit of record keeping and some coordination with a doctor to see which protocols work best for you.

    Remedies And Treatments For Menstrual Headaches

    Pharmaceutical Remedies: There are not a lot of pharmaceutical remedies whether they are prescription of over the counter. However there are a few if you choose to use pharmaceuticals.

    The best over the counter medications available are analgesics in general and medications made specifically for a womans menstrual cycle symptoms. The medication made for the menstrual cycle that can be effective for headaches includes:

    Pamprin and Midol: Both of these should be taken during the PMS part of the cycle and then if needed continued throughout the cycle. Both of these will assist in the control of cramping, bloating, fever, or mood changes also associated with the cycle. In addition to these you have all the OTC analgesics/NSAIDS such as acetaminophen/ibuprofen/naproxen and others.

    The prescription medications used for this are also the NSAIDS with the most commonly prescribed for menstrual headaches being Naprosyn, Orudis, Relefen, Nalfon, Motrin or Advil. Diuretics have also been used along with other prescription drugs such as Verapamil, Migranal, Depakote, Propranolol and Cafergot. NSAIDS are the primary drug of choice for most physicians who are going to prescribe for menstrual headaches.

    None of these medications will treat the causes of the migraine or menstrual headache. They can only treat the symptoms and they cannot prevent the headaches from happening unless you take them all the time which is explicitly not recommended.

    Natural and Home Remedies:

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    Can You Prevent These Headaches

    There are a few methods your doctor might suggest.

    Hormonal:Birth control pills or estrogen patches and vaginal rings may help lower the number of menstrual migraines you have or make them less severe. But they donât work for everyone. In some cases, they could make your migraines worse.

    Your doctor might tell you to stay on birth control for 3 to 6 months without taking any placebo pills. This will prevent you from having a period and may stop your headaches.

    If you get migraines with auras, using birth control that contains estrogen and progesterone isnât a safe option. Taking it could make you more likely to have a stroke. Other reasons your doctor may not want you to take birth control for your menstrual migraines:

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