Migraines Get Worse the Closer Women Get to Menopause

Migraines Get Worse the Closer Women Get to Menopause

Migraine headaches get worse as women approach menopause, so says a new study from the University of Cincinnati , Montefiore Headache Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Vedanta Research.

“Women have been telling doctors that their migraine headaches worsen around menopause and now we have proof they were right,” says Vincent Martin, MD, professor of internal medicine in UC’s Division of General Internal Medicine.

The risk for experiencing more than 10 days with headache per month increased by 60% in middle-aged women with migraine during the perimenopause, which is the time prior to menopause when women experience irregular menstrual cycles.

The researchers studied 3,664 women aged 35 to 65 who experienced migraine before and during their menopausal years, which included perimenopause and menopause.  Women who participated in the study reported that migraines increased 76% during menopause.

“Changes in female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone that occur during the perimenopause might trigger increased headaches during this time,” said Richard Lipton, MD, director, Montefiore Headache Center and professor and vice chair of neurology, and the Edwin S. Lowe Chair in Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“Women as they get older develop lots of aches and pains, joints and back pain and it is possible their overuse of pain medications for headache and other conditions might actually drive an increase in headaches for the menopause group,” Dr. Martin said.

The study was published this week in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, a publication of the American Headache Society.

About 12 percent of the U.S. population experiences migraine.  Common symptoms of migraine headaches include hot flashes, irritability, depression and insomnia.

For women approaching menopause and suffering from migraine there is help, explains Jelena Pavlovic, MD, PhD, co-author of the study.

“Physicians can prescribe hormonal therapies that level out these changes that occur during the perimenopause and menopause time periods,” says Pavlovic. “If the patient is in early perimenopause, you can give birth control pills that level things out. If they are in the late perimenopause and they start skipping periods, they can be put on estrogen patches.”

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Authored by: Staff

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. Kristine (Krissy) at 8:39 am

    I started having migraines when I was 12 years old. At the time, we lived in solution-ridden LA, but were from clean-air Minnesota. My dad also got them. We moved back to MN after about 1.5 years and my dad’s headaches stopped, but mine went on…and at 63 I still get them, but they are far less severe and I can usually catch them in their tracks with mediation and rest. I suffered for so many years, however, with the really bad ones that make one so very sick, ED visits galore and lots of trials of various meds. When I was 40 I had to have a hysterectomy so I never went through any menopause symptoms. Now my daughter has them during her current pregnancy, and my niece has chronic migraines (her mom passed away young, but she also had them). Our mother never had one. It’s an enigma, but I will say that when I was younger than 40, the hormones that kicked in just before my period came gave me the most migraines. Just sayin’