Three Surprising Questions About Periods
Is Your Period Hurting Your Head?
Blame it on hormones: Approximately 70% of all women who get migraines can predict the onset of a headache around their menstrual cycle, says Merle Diamond, MD, associate director of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago. For some, it's the hardest headache to treat because it's longer and more severe than the headaches they get at other times of the month.
[sidebar]Menstrual migraines are brought on by changing levels of estrogen—usually falling—that happens twice a month: with ovulation and with the menstrual cycle. While estrogen doesn't cause a migraine, it's one of the most powerful triggers for women, says Dr. Diamond. That may help explain why women are three times more likely to get migraine headaches than men.
As women reach their 30s and 40s, their headaches tend to get more frequent and more severe, in part because of stress, says Dr. Diamond (a migraineur herself). Another reason: Hormonal fluctuations increase as women approach menopause. Keeping a diary of your menstrual cycle helps because you can predict when you're most at risk—typically the days immediately before and after the menstrual cycle—and use medications before the headache hits.
There is some good news. With the end of menopause, migraines stop or become significantly less frequent for 65 to 70% of women.
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