How Hormones Can Trigger a Migraine

How Hormones Can Trigger a Migraine

Like most things, migraine attacks happen on a scale. Some people have intense attacks progressing through various stages that may last several days. Others may have milder, rarer attacks. Regardless of where your migraine attacks fall on the scale, they likely disrupt your life. 

Our practitioners at all three locations of Apex Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, encourage migraine patients to work and identify potential triggers. Understanding your triggers allows you to either avoid the trigger or prepare if you can’t avoid it. Migraine caused by hormonal fluctuations falls into both categories. 

The hormone-headache connection

More women than men have migraine, with around 20% of women experiencing migraine. For about 66% of them, attacks happen at the same time as their menstrual period. Fluctuating levels of estrogen cause new migraine symptoms as well as changes in severity. 

If your hormones are causing your migraines, you probably have longer attacks, and experience greater light sensitivity during them. Along with your menstrual cycle, your hormones change during pregnancy or after giving birth, approaching menopause, after menopause, and when taking hormone replacement therapy. 

Pregnancy and migraine

Happily, most women have fewer migraine attacks during pregnancy, particularly after the first trimester. Researchers think that rising estrogen levels help to reduce the number and intensity of attacks. 

However, some women have an increase in symptoms, especially during the first three months. Worse, there appears to be an association between the first appearance or increase of migraine symptoms along with an increase in blood pressure and a higher risk of pregnancy complications. If you’re pregnant and have migraine, talk to your doctor so that you know what to do if you have symptoms. 

Perimenopause and menopause

The years and months before menopause are called perimenopause, and during that time, your estrogen levels tend to fluctuate. As your body begins to taper off production of estrogen and your hormone levels stabilize after menopause, you’re likely to see fewer migraine attacks — or you may no longer have them at all. 

In some instances, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could be an option during perimenopause. It’s sometimes a good treatment approach for women who have hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms depending on numerous other factors. 

Treating hormone related migraine

Usually, if you suspect your migraine attacks are related to fluctuating levels of estrogen, your doctor will ask you to keep a diary and to track your migraine symptoms and your menstrual cycle for about three months. Then, if there’s an apparent connection, they’ll suggest appropriate treatment options for you.

Medications to treat acute symptoms during an attack as well as treatments to prevent attacks are available. The right treatment approach depends on several things, such as whether you’re trying to become pregnant, if you can take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or not, and many others. 

To find out more about the treatments that may be available for your migraine attacks, schedule an appointment at one of the convenient Las Vegas locations Apex Medical Center today.

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