Menopause Symptoms: Migraines
What Causes Migraines During Menopause?
Because you are beautiful and unique menopause can affect your migraines in a number of ways. Menopause may make migraines less severe if they were linked to the hormonal fluctuations of your menstrual cycle. Or migraines may start for the first time, or worsen, around perimenopause because of new hormonal fluctuations. Hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms may also be linked to migraines at this time.
The good news is that hormonal migraines usually stop after menopause when hormone levels are consistently low. Migraines are often misunderstood, underdiagnosed, and inappropriately treated, so here’s what you need to know about their causes and possible therapies: A Migraine is a complex condition with a wide variety of symptoms. For many people, the main feature is a painful headache. Other symptoms include disturbed vision, sensitivity to light, sound and smells, feeling sick and vomiting. Migraine attacks can be very frightening and may result in you having to lie still for several hours.
The symptoms will vary from person to person and individuals may have different symptoms during different attacks. Your attacks may differ in length and frequency. Migraine attacks usually last from 4 to 72 hours and most people are free from symptoms between attacks. Migraine can have an enormous impact on your work, family and social lives.
The most common types of migraine fall into two categories: Most people who experience migraine with aura develop temporary visual signs and symptoms of aura. These may include:
- Blind spots (scotomas), which are sometimes outlined by simple geometric designs.
- Zigzag lines that gradually float across your field of vision.
- Shimmering spots or stars.
- Changes in vision or vision loss.
- Flashes of light.
These types of visual disturbances tend to start in the center of your field of vision and spread outward.
Other Sensory Disturbances
Other temporary sensations sometimes associated with migraine aura include:
- Feelings of numbness, typically felt as tingling in one hand or in your face.
- Difficulty with speech or language.
- Muscle weakness.
A migraine without aura is the most common type of migraine headache. They account for about 75% of all migraines. Another name you might hear is “common migraine.” It doesn’t have the early symptoms, called an aura, that some people have before a migraine begins, like vision changes, dizziness, confusion, feeling prickling skin, and weakness.
Most people feel migraine pain in the front of the head, on one or both sides of the temples. It may throb or be steady. The headache may last from 4 to 72 hours. You might also have any of these other symptoms:
- Low blood pressure
- Feeling “hyper”Sensitivity to light, sounds, or motion
- Dark circles under your eyes
Treatments without medication include biofeedback, relaxation techniques, changes in diet, stress reduction, acupuncture, and regular sleep/wake schedules. Medications can prevent migraines from occurring (magnesium, aspirin, triptans, ergots, and hormone therapy) or stop a migraine that has already begun (triptans and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Note that hormone therapy affects each woman differently. Some will have a reduction in migraines, while others might have worse symptoms. In some women, taking birth control pills during perimenopause may provide both contraception and relief from hot flashes and migraine. If you have menstrual migraines during perimenopause, you may want to use a low-dose estrogen on days surrounding your period as a preventive measure (this may not be possible if your period is unpredictable, as it often is during perimenopause). The goal for hormonal treatment is to stabilise estrogen levels. If you think you are suffering from migraines, schedule an examination with your GP or other healthcare providers to explore treatments.