Migraine headaches show contradictory symptoms in women going through menopause. In some women, the reduced hormone levels in the body can actually alleviate the symptoms of migraine. But others who go through hormone replacement therapy for reducing the discomforts associated with menopause might find increased episodes of migraine too.
Migraine is characterised by severe and throbbing pain that can be concentrated on one side of the head and can radiate to the back of the neck as well. It can be accompanied by others symptoms like nausea, sound and light sensitivity, vomiting etc.
Causes Of Migraine During Menopause
Menopause is met with a host of hormone imbalances in the body like estrogen and progestin fluctuation. This can affect the neurotransmitter levels in the brain which leads to migraine issues. As the levels of estrogen in a woman’s body falls drastically, the protein levels which help in the moderation of pain too drops which result in increased sensitivity towards headaches. The fluctuations in these hormones can work against or in favour of menopausal women.
The good fact is that about 66% women find a dramatic improvement in their migraine symptoms. Only 10% women find that their symptoms have worsened. Women who have had migraines all throughout their menstrual cycles tend to be more affected with migraines during the time of perimenopause.
However, it has also been noted that migraines that are triggered due to hormone problems tend to decrease when a woman attains natural menopause. This cannot be said as true when a woman attains menopause after a hysterectomy.
Treating Migraines During Menopause With Hormones
Most women go through hormone replacement therapy in order to treat migraines and other symptoms associated with menopause. But some of them find that HRT can actually aggravate migraine symptoms as well. Therefore, hormone replacement therapy should not be considered as the first line of treatment for migraine.
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HRT can also have others side effects like increased susceptibility to breast cancer and cardiac problems after menopause. If you have still opted for hormone replacement therapy to treat migraine, opt for transdermal preparations rather than using oral preparations which do not give a continuous dose without breakage.
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Treating Migraines During Menopause With Non Hormonal Methods
Non hormonal method that can be considered for treating menopause related migraine and migraine in general is Triptans. Lifestyle changes that are generally followed to keep migraines at bay may not work with menopausal migraine as it is purely hormone related.
Some women may also try natural treatment methods like the use of soy isoflavones, black cohosh etc. to treat menopausal migraine. But this too must be started with caution as herbal medications can sometimes cause untoward side effects and can also turn out to be the reason for aggravation of symptoms.
Though the normal medications that you used to treat your headaches may not work with menopausal migraines, NSAIDs are known to give good results for migraines caused due to menopause. Medications such as Motrin, Nalfon, Relafen, Advil, Orudis etc. can be taken with adequate prescription and guidance from the doctor.
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