Some women typically experience migraines and headaches nearing their period. It’s strange, how menstrual cramps are often talked about, but headaches seem to affect a minority of people in your social circle. The somewhat relieving news is that this is a natural symptom of your shifting hormone levels – nope, it’s not the disorder that you were worrying about! Of all migraines that affect women, more than 50% can be attributed to menstrual-related migraines. Menstrual migraines have been so unique as a medical condition that they’ve got their own ICD-9 codes to differentiate themselves from normal migraines. (Simple English Wikipedia)
Causes of migraine and headaches
The main factor that triggers menstrual migraine is the drop in estrogen level just before your period, which leads to the contraction of your blood vessels. Many PMS symptoms are linked to this sudden drop of estrogen in week 4 of your cycle. A second theory is that migraines are triggered by the release of prostagladin (another hormone) during the first two days of menstruation. Menstrual migraines also become more common in older women who are approaching menopause, as well as those who take hormone control pills which induces estrogen production (hence more fluctuation).
Easy tips to relieve migraines and headaches
1. Keep a migraine or headache diary
The best thing you can do is to keep a migraine/headache diary for at least three months. Tracking when your period starts and when your migraines happen will help you understand if your migraines and your period are correlated. In addition to those fields, you should also try to identify if there were any triggers for your migraine that you were exposed to. (Examples of triggers)
2. Take natural remedies
Non-drug migraine remedies include acupuncture, acupressure, massages, regular exercise, good sleep habits, chiropractic help, diet changes, and herbal remedies.
Typical migraine diets exclude fermented food (say bye to cheese, and wine! Alas.) and salty food which is pretty hard if you always eat out. But there are always some things that you can avoid while ordering from the hawker centre downstairs – like sausages, pickled vegetables, and salted fish!
Another diet tip is to eat small meals throughout the day, or eat low GI (i.e. slow glucose release foods) foods to maintain a steady blood glucose level.
3. Supplements for migraines
Supplements and pharmaceutical drugs can help, like magnesium, vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), and coenzyme Q-10. Some drugs used for menstrual migraines belong to a category of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They are basically anti-inflammatory painkillers. Whatever the drug, do seek guidance from your doctor.
What remedies will you use? Comment below!