What does menstrual headache mean?
Fluctuating hormones during the menstrual period can cause many changes such as headaches . There may also be different types of headaches during your menstrual period. One type of headache is a headache – usually caused by stress – that feels like a tight band around your forehead. You may also develop a headache after your period due to your blood loss and low iron levels.
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However, among the different types of headaches that can occur during your menstrual period, hormonal headaches and menstrual migraines seem to be the most common. The underlying cause is the same for both, but their symptoms are different from each other.
What causes headaches during menstruation?
Any change in hormone level can trigger a hormonal headache and menstrual migraine. Hormones regulate many of your body’s functions. Women who have headaches during their menstrual periods may develop hormone-related headaches before, during or after their menstrual period. Headaches are caused by changing estrogen and progesterone levels.
Estrogen is the female sex hormone. It passes through the bloodstream, delivering messages to different parts of the body. Estrogen levels rise in the middle of your menstrual period. This allows the egg to be released. Progesterone is another important hormone. Increased levels of this hormone help an egg implant in the uterus.
After ovulation (release of an egg from the ovary), hormone levels drop. Estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest just before the menstrual period. It is this reduction that makes some women more likely to experience headaches .
Other times, you may also have hormonal headaches. Some women have more headaches during menopause or perimenopause due to the drop in hormones.
Pregnancy can also trigger a headache because hormone levels can fluctuate over the course of nine months.
Hormonal headache and migraine during menstrual period
While hormonal headaches and menstrual migraines are both caused by fluctuating hormones, the difference between the two is the severity of the headache.
A hormonal headache can be mild to moderate and does not bother you too much. This is still a nuisance and inconvenience, but may not interfere with your daily routine.
A menstrual migraine, on the other hand, can be debilitating. According to the National Headache Foundation, menstrual migraines affect about 60 percent of women. Also, if you regularly experience migraine attacks, you may be susceptible to menstrual migraine.
A menstrual migraine is different from a regular migraine because it usually does not feel like a normal migraine. Menstrual migraine is characterized by severe throbbing that may start on one side of the forehead and travel to the other. Its violence can make it difficult to keep your eyes open, work, or even think.
Headache and accompanying symptoms during menstrual period
Symptoms that occur along with menstrual migraines include:
- sensitivity to sound
- Sensitivity to bright light
You may experience the following menstrual headache symptoms, including both hormonal and menstrual migraines:
- joint pain or muscle pain
- constipation or diarrhea
- cravings to eat
- mood changes
How does a headache go through during the menstrual period?
Treatment of hormonal headaches and menstrual migraines depends on the severity. For example, you can look at the following:
Initial treatment options
Over-the-counter pain relievers are usually effective for menstrual headaches. These medications can also relieve nervous headaches caused by low iron levels. However, you should still consult your doctor before taking any medication.
Caffeine is another effective remedy for hormonal headaches. Eating chocolate and drinking caffeinated tea or soda can be effective in reducing discomfort. In fact, some medications for premenstrual syndrome contain caffeine as an ingredient.
Subsequent treatment options
Depending on the severity of the headache during the menstrual period, over-the-counter medications may not produce the desired results. In some cases, if symptoms do not improve , you may need hormone therapy .
Taking this treatment before your period can help balance your hormone levels. Your doctor may recommend additional estrogen to correct an imbalance and, in some cases, may require you to use hormonal contraceptives .
What is good for headache during menstrual period?
Along with traditional remedies, a few home remedies can also ease the sharp, throbbing sensation and help you manage a hormonal headache. For example, you can look at the following:
1- Cold therapy
Wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply it to your forehead (10 minutes). Cold therapy can reduce inflammation and dull the pain sensation, making you feel more comfortable.
2- Relaxation exercises
Meditation is an effective method for headaches during menstruation. Exercises such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can relax your muscles, reduce tension, and improve headache symptoms. Learning how to relax also teaches you how to control different functions of your body, such as your heart rate and blood pressure. Less muscle tension and stress can reduce the severity of your headache.
Acupuncture can also be effective for headaches during menstruation. Acupuncture involves placing small needles at different pressure points in your body. It stimulates the release of endorphins, hormones naturally produced by the body to help you deal with stress and pain.
4- Get enough rest
Too little sleep can make menstrual headaches worse. Aim for at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Improve your sleep environment for better rest. Turn off the TV and lights and keep your room at a warm temperature.
According to the Mayo Clinic , vitamins such as vitamin B-2, coenzyme Q10 and magnesium can reduce the severity of migraine attacks. You should talk to your doctor before starting a supplement, especially if you are pregnant or are currently taking any medication.
6- Massage therapy
Massage therapy can promote muscle relaxation and reduce tension in your shoulders, back, and neck. It can also reduce the severity and frequency of headaches and migraine attacks.
When to see a doctor for headaches during menstrual period?
If you have frequent and severe headaches during your period (menstrual), you should see a doctor. Your doctor can discuss the possibility of hormone therapy or prescribe medication.
You should also see a doctor for any headache with the following symptoms:
- mental confusion
- double vision
- speech difficulties
In some cases, headaches may not be related to your menstrual period but may be related to a serious medical condition.