Being a woman could have health advantages like longevity and higher pain tolerance, but not when it comes to hormonal headaches. Fluctuating hormones is a major contributing factor in migraines and chronic headaches. The hormone levels keep changing during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause.
The hormone oestrogen plays an important role in regulating the menstrual cycle and pregnancy and also controls the headache-related chemicals in the brain. When the level of oestrogen comes down, it can trigger a headache.
What Are The Causes Of Hormonal Headaches?
1. Menstrual cycle - When there is a dip in estrogen and progesterone levels, prior to periods, hormonal headaches can occur.
2. Perimenopause and menopause - The change in hormone levels during the perimenopause and menopause cause some women to experience headaches.
3. Pregnancy - During pregnancy, oestrogen levels start rising and after giving birth it falls rapidly. Therefore, women may not experience headaches during pregnancy and may have it after pregnancy.
4. Hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives - The intake of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy cause the hormone levels to rise and fall leading to hormonal headaches.
Other causes are skipping meals, intense smell or sound, getting too much or little sleep, stress, severe weather changes, alcoholic beverages, too much caffeine, MSG (monosodium glutamate), soy products, etc.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hormonal Headaches?
The main symptom of a hormonal headache is a migraine or a headache. Other symptoms that follow are loss of appetite, fatigue, joint pain, acne, decreased urination, lack of coordination, chocolate or alcohol craving and constipation.
What Is The Treatment For Hormonal Headaches?
1. Oestrogen therapy or hormone therapy
If you suffer from migraine headaches during your regular periods, you can treat it by taking oestrogen supplements before your period is due and for a few days during your period. Oestrogen can be taken in the form of a pill or as a gel to rub into your skin.
Note: Speak to your doctor before using oestrogen supplements.
Medications such as ibuprofen and triptans are migraine-specific medicines that can reduce the intensity of a migraine attack. These medicines should be taken once the migraine or headache attack has started.
Women who experience frequent hormonal headaches, medications such as anticonvulsants, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants and beta blockers can be taken daily or before the time of your menstrual cycle.
3. Other remedies
Apart from medications and hormone therapy, home remedies can also help too which include the following:
- Drinking plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.
- Lying down in a dark room.
- Massaging the area of pain.
- Performing deep-breathing exercises.
How To Prevent Hormonal Headaches?
- Consume small, frequent meals to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Don't miss your meals as it can trigger a headache attack.
- Follow a regular sleep pattern and avoid sleeping too much or too little.
- Avoid stressing out too much and find ways to ways to deal with stress like trying out relaxation exercises.
When To See A Doctor?
Seek a doctor's help immediately if you notice the headache suddenly feels different, if you have a severe headache like a thunderclap, headache with fever, stiff neck, double vision, weakness or a new kind of headache pain.
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