The Relationship Between Migraines and Menopause

January 14, 2022
Meta Description: For a significant number of women, hormonal shifts that occur during menopause mean having to experience migraine headaches— learn more Change is a part of everyone’s life. But for a significant number of women, change is also accompanied by painful episodes of migraine headaches. Migraines are a type of severe and recurring headache that are usually accompanied by symptoms like light sensitivity and nausea. It’s more common for women of reproductive age to experience migraines, but such episodes may worsen during the stage before menopause (perimenopause). But depending on the individual, migraines might actually improve after menopause or increase in severity.

Migraines and Menstruation

For many women, migraines seem to flare up just before and during menstruation. One study suggests that it is 70% more likely for a woman to have a migraine during the 2 days before their monthly period. Estrogen levels in women dive before the beginning of their actual period. This might be what actually causes the onset of a migraine. Although migraines may also occur before ovulation when estrogen levels are at their highest. However, the majority of studies tend to agree that most women experience fewer migraines after menopause. The assumption is that women are no longer having the hormonal shifts that caused the migraines. What most agree on is that shifting hormone levels definitely affect the pattern of migraines in women.

Does Menopause Cause Migraines?

During perimenopause, when symptoms like hot flashes occur, women report that their migraines increase. But for women who have a history of migraines, symptoms might increase during menopause. And some women who have never had a migraine might actually develop headaches around the time of menopause. Interestingly, menopause can also trigger changes in the symptoms of a migraine. A certain percentage develop a “migraine aura” meaning they experience the symptoms of a migraine such as light sensitivity, see lines or flashing lights, but don’t experience the headache. They may also experience tingling in their limbs or face, have speech problems, or have auditory hallucinations like hearing noises or music.

Can Hormone Replacement Therapy Help Migraines During Menopause?

Symptoms that occur during perimenopause and menopause are sometimes treated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). In some cases, HRT improves headaches, worsens headaches in others, or can cause no changes at all. Some doctors might recommend an estrogen patch that can deliver a low, steady supply of estrogen that is less likely to trigger a migraine. If you are on HRT and your headaches worsen, a health professional might suggest you lower your estrogen dosage or use a different form of estrogen. If you’re experiencing symptoms associated with migraines due to times when you are experiencing hormonal shifts, or want to know more about how hormone levels affect headaches, then let’s talk. Schedule your 30 min free consult today.