Migraines can be excruciating. They can be so severe that women with migraines may miss work or even school due to the severity of their condition. If you're one of those people, you need to understand the cause of your migraines so that you can take steps to prevent them from happening. While you may experience many different types of migraine, hormonal migraines rank among the most common type and affect up to 30% of women in Canada who suffer from this hormonal condition.
What Are Hormonal Migraines? Hormonal migraines are a type of migraine that occurs in women around the time of their menstrual cycle. They commonly include severe headaches and can also cause nausea and vomiting, as well as sensitivity to light, sound, or smell. Hormonal migraines differ from other types of migraines. For example, they don't have the same warning signs that different types of migraines do. In addition, they don't cause auras before the headache starts, and they aren’t as often triggered by things like alcohol or stress (although they can certainly make it worse). They also don't respond to the same treatments as non-hormonal migraines do: Painkillers won't help, and neither will triptans (drugs used for treating other kinds of migraines). What Is the Link Between Hormones and Migraine Headaches in Women? Changes in hormone levels in your body trigger hormonal migraines. While the true cause of hormonal migraines is not entirely understood, they typically occur when a drop in estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones occurs before a menstrual bleed. It’s believed that estrogen and serotonin have a direct correlation, so when estrogen drops, serotonin drops, which may be the source of the migraine’s onset. Hormonal migraines affect women more often than men. They also occur more frequently during pregnancy and after childbirth. The most common symptom of a hormonal migraine includes a headache that usually starts on one side of the head and spreads across the whole head. It can also accompany nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. The most frequent hormone-triggered migraines occur two weeks before menses begins and during the first few days of menstruation. A woman's risk of having a hormonal migraine increases as she approaches menopause, and hormonal migraines often resolve when she reached menopause. Something to make note - oral birth control pills can worsen (or may be the cause of) hormonal migraines. If you are experiencing severe premenstrual headaches and are using an oral hormonal contraceptive, talk to your doctor about a change to your contraceptive. If you suffer from hormonal migraines and want to resolve your symptoms, contact Toronto-based Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Courtney Holmberg. With over ten years of experience in helping patients with hormonal imbalances and other conditions, Dr. Holmberg ND understands the importance of taking a holistic approach to migraine management, looking at the whole person—not just the symptoms—to find solutions that fit each individual's needs. Call 647-351-7282 today to book your appointment with her clinic to get to the bottom of your hormonal migraines today.