Migraines May Worsen During Menopause

Migraine is a condition in which the patient suffers from mild to severe headache followed by vomiting, nausea, blind spots, and sensitivity to light. It also causes an impulsive sensation in one side of the head. Migraine is defined as a result of some neurological disorder. The pain lasts ranging from 2 to 72 hrs and becomes worst with any physical activity. The Scientific study has shown that the mechanism of migraine starts within the brain and then spreads to the blood vessels.

This condition emerges when the blood vessels expand, which causes the nerve fiber that is located around the blood vessel to release chemicals that cause inflammation and enlargement of the artery.Percentage of migraine is found to be three times more in females than males.Migraine mainly is supposed to be induced due to some triggers.

Most commonly observed triggers for Migraine include:

Migraine with aura:

  • Migraine with aura is a typical symptom in which the patient suffers from sensory or visual disturbance like flashing of lights, blind spots, etc. before actually feeling the pain. This phase is defined as aura which usually lasts for about 60 minutes. Visual disturbances associated with this aura are visual signs like blind spots, zigzag lines across the vision, flashing of light, change in vision, etc. These visual signs are observed at the center of vision moving outward. Sensory disturbances associated with the aura are numbness, tingling in the face or hand, etc.
  • Migraine without aura is a common migraine that is observed without any early symptoms. Hence the visual or sensory disturbances are not observed in migraine without aura.
  • Migraine with aura is less commonly found. About 30% of the patients suffer from migraine with aura. The exact root cause of migraine is still not detected. However, it is believed to be some genetic or environmental disorder. It is observed that from the age of 40, women become less fertile as their ovaries gradually stop producing eggs. Perimenopause is the phase when the menstrual cycle becomes irregular till the time it stops completely and menopause is the stage when the menstrual cycle stops completely. Menopause comprises of both Perimenopause and menopause. This condition may last for months or even years. Migraine attacks are very closely linked to the periods during Menopause. The survey done at the American Headache Society annual meeting in Los Angeles shows that the frequency and severity of attacks become worse during the Menopause phase. The frequency of headache increases by 50-60% during the menopause.

During perimenopause the estrogen levels gradually decline as the ovaries become less efficient. Also the cyclic luteal phase progesterone surges wane. The decline in the levels of estrogen and progesterone results in many long term migraine complains.

Most commonly, Hormone replacement therapies are prescribed to treat the symptoms of menopause. However, researchers have found some evidences showing its effect on migraine. Hence it is also considered as one of the reasons for migraine attacks during menopause.

It is advised to consult your specialist for adjusting or switching their migraine medicine to have some relief from this situation. Else you may also try some hormone replacement therapy for a brief time. This would increase the estrogen level, resulting in decreasing the frequency of migraine.