Your head has been throbbing for hours, you’ve barely slept, and even a sweet little voice calling for mama snuggles doesn’t help. This head pounding typically creeps in around your cycle and is annoyingly familiar. The light seems extra bright and you are more exhausted than usual. It can feel especially daunting to deal with menstrual migraine headaches when taking care of little ones.
If there’s any solace in it, know that you’re not alone. Menstrual migraine headaches, also known as hormonal migraines, significantly impact the lives of many women. These headaches are linked to hormonal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. Understanding the causes and triggers of menstrual migraines is crucial in developing effective management strategies to help you deal, even when you’re sleep-deprived and have little time for yourself.
With expert input from Women’s Health Coach and Fertility Awareness Educator Berrion Berry, let’s explore the ins and outs of hormonal migraines to help you find some relief.
Editor’s Note: Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.
Managing Menstrual Migraine Headaches
Understanding Your Triggers for Menstrual Migraine Headaches
Hormonal migraines are recurrent headaches that happen with hormonal changes in a woman’s body. Berry says, “There is a correlation between a dip in estrogen levels and hormonal migraines…research shares that often hormonal migraines can be linked to inflammation in the brain and a mineral deficiency.” An article published in The Journal of Headache and Pain confirms that hormonal fluctuations, specifically a dip in estrogen levels, cause hormonal migraines throughout the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause.
Several factors can trigger your hormonal migraines. Unfortunately, those triggers are often commonplace in motherhood, like lack of sleep, stress, and strong odors. Additionally, weather changes and certain foods like chocolate and drinks with caffeine and alcohol can trigger migraines. When you’re feeling tired with a pounding headache, it’s likely better to reach for a glass of water instead of another cup of coffee. Identifying your triggers and taking steps to avoid or minimize their impact is important.
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Migraines
Certain lifestyle modifications can help reduce the frequency and severity of hormonal migraines. These changes may not eliminate your migraines but can contribute to better management. Berry suggests these five best lifestyle strategies for managing hormonal headaches:
Eat 3-5 meals daily that contain protein, healthy fats, and fiber.
- This helps to stabilize blood sugar and energy levels throughout the day.
- Understand that your body needs different nutrients during your menstrual cycle. Berry discusses this in depth during her hormonal reset.
Drink coconut water or warm water with a pinch of Celtic sea salt.
- Micronutrient and mineral deficiency are often linked to hormonal migraines. Staying hydrated, with the benefits of added electrolytes, can help remineralize the body and minimize the effects of hormonal migraines.
Plunge into cold therapy.
- There are many benefits of a cold plunge or cold shower. The Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine discusses the effects of cold therapy on managing hormonal migraines and headaches. Cold therapy helps the nervous system regulate, slows many body processes down, and constricts blood vessels, which can help reduce inflammation and alleviate hormonal migraines.
Wrap a warm towel around your head.
- This simple practice relaxes your muscles which means less tension in your head.
Go for a walk.
- Sometimes the best thing you can do is get outside and move your body. Again, this helps regulate your nervous system, which in turn can reduce stress and inflammation.
Medication and Supplement Remedies for Menstrual Migraines
If you have tried lifestyle modifications with no alleviation, it is a good time to make an appointment with your healthcare practitioner to discuss further options. They may discuss the following options depending on your needs:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naproxen for mild to moderate migraine pain.
- Triptans for moderate to severe migraines.
Many supplements are beneficial to help balance your hormones and reduce hormonal headaches. Berry suggests eating nutrient-dense food, such as fermented foods, for their beneficial bacteria that can help improve gut, vaginal, and metabolic health and function. Berry also recommends remineralizing the body through consuming micronutrients and minerals. She says you need to ensure you are getting certain vitamins and minerals through your food or supplementation to help balance your hormones. Hormones specifically need:
- Vitamin D
Alternative Therapies for Menstrual Migraines
It can be hard to find time to look after your health as a mom, but it benefits your whole family when you prioritize your well-being too. Try to carve out time to treat yourself to complementary and alternative therapies. Acupuncture, chiropractor, cranial sacral, massage, biofeedback, and herbal remedies like feverfew and ginger can help reduce migraine frequency and intensity.
Managing Hormonal Migraines During Pregnancy
Managing migraines during pregnancy requires special considerations. Lifestyle modifications, non-medication approaches like cold or warm compresses and relaxation exercises, and specific medications like Tylenol can provide relief. It’s crucial to consult with healthcare providers for personalized advice.
Tracking and Preventing Hormonal Migraines
Keeping a migraine diary can help identify patterns and triggers associated with hormonal migraines. Tracking your menstrual cycle, symptoms, potential triggers, and medications helps devise preventive measures. If you search the App Store on your phone, you’ll find many simple and easy mobile options to track your migraines, triggers, and symptoms.
Berry asserts premenstrual symptoms of any kind are not normal. She discusses that in the case of hormonal headaches, although common, they are not normal and are a sign of hormone imbalance. Strategies for preventing menstrual migraines include lifestyle modifications, hormonal management, and trigger management. Seeking professional help is important when migraines are severe and frequent, or there are significant pattern changes.
Hormonal migraines can significantly impact your life, but they can be reduced with proper understanding and management strategies. Remember to consult healthcare professionals for personalized guidance. You deserve to live with less migraine pain.