Book Review: The Woman’s Guide to Managing Migraine by Susan Hutchinson, MD

As I sit down to write this brief book review, I feel a little silly. You see, as a bookstore owner, I am often sent copies of books long before they are formally published and available to the general public. Knowing how interested I was in migraine disease and headache, Oxford University Press sent me an advanced copy of Dr. Susan Hutchinson’s new book. I put it in my to-read stack and proceeded to ignore it. Then, months later, the “real” book was released, and Oxford sent me a complimentary copy of the finished book. I still did not open it for some mysterious reason.

Until now.

And wow, I feel pretty silly for not having looked at this book sooner. The full title of the slim (read: not intimidating) volume is The Woman’s Guide to Managing Migraine: Understanding the Hormone Connection to Find Hope and Wellness. (Full disclosure: Dr. Hutchinson is a contributor to Migraine.com, but I don’t believe we have ever met.)

Like millions of women, I always, always, always get a migraine (or many!) right before and during menstruation. Only once did I try to combat these menstrual related migraines by taking Frova beginning two days before my period and then all throughout my period (which is much longer than most women’s periods—lucky me!). Results were mixed, but after just a couple months of trying that, I was scraping for pennies at the bottom of my pocketbook—at the time of my trial, Frova was very expensive, and taking one a day for a week or more was breaking the bank.

Dr. Hutchinson’s book gives me renewed hope for coping with these menstrual-related migraines. For the first time in many years, I have the faintest inkling of hope that maybe the migraines I thought were 100% guaranteed (that is, my menstrual related migraines) might not be inescapable after all!

The book can be read piecemeal or in a few long sittings. I’d encourage you to have a pen or highlighter with you as you read (or a separate notebook if you’re reading a library book or are averse to underlining your own books). While Dr. Hutchinson is careful to note that each case study she reviews is not necessarily applicable to those of us reading the book (note: she is sure to tell you to seek your doctor’s advice before changing health regimens), there are tons of little tidbits of wisdom you can read about and try.

But this is not a cheap medical self-help book you’d find at the supermarket checkout for $1.99. This is a thoroughly researched work that will allow you to take more ownership of your health by teaching you the ins and outs of female hormones, migraine patterns, and more. My first reading, though much delayed, was too quick to absorb everything, so I am going to sit down and reread it in the next few weeks and talk to my doctor about some of the ideas presented. It’s a book like this that makes me feel like a more knowledgeable, empowered patient, and that’s always a positive thing.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

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  • TheKimberly75
    5 years ago

    I can say that around 40, for a still unknown reason, I had a full year without migraines. While it was heaven I never really enjoyed it as much as I should have because I felt I couldn’t trust it and was waiting for the other shoe to drop! And eventually it did. It’s been 6 years now since my menopause and not a thing has changed except the timely migraines at my menstrual cycle. Now it just anytime and all the time. From what I’ve read there’s no scientific data proving any significant change at menopause at all! In addition, the only other person I’ve personally ever known with the quantity, frequency, and severity of mine had a complete hysterectomy in her early 20’s (30 it’s ago), so how does that work? I know I sound bitter, and I am. I feel I’ve tried every preventative & rescue medicine, as well as all known therapies and treatments the medical community has to offer – and then some! I’ve had debilitating, chronic severe migraines for about 39 of my 56 years, and as I also have treatment resistant hypo mania, it’s really getting harder and harder to stick around for what looks to be a pattern that will likely continue the rest of my natural life! I guess you could say that I’ve found hope to be a double edged sword…

  • Jkr
    5 years ago

    I’ve had the privilege of meeting her twice for support groups She is an amazing plethora of information. The book hadn’t come out yet but I do need to get it. She herself is also a migraine sufferer.

  • mattparker
    5 years ago

    I wish they would write a book specific for men, I have delt with migraines for 30 plus years. And have been out of work for.going on 4 years because of migraines.

  • dmae
    5 years ago

    Hi Matt,

    I wonder why men get them as well. Though I regret they’re in pain, whenever a male athlete discloses having missed a practice or a game due to migraine, I feel like whispering from the rooftops, “See! It’s not all in our heads, or our ovaries!”

  • Mary Worth
    5 years ago

    @ithurts99
    have you, or anyone else used ginger capsules for nausea?

  • ithurts99
    5 years ago

    I just wanted to mention how great being pregnant was. Not ONE headache for 9 months! Not really a long term or even short term solution though. 🙂

  • tucker
    5 years ago

    I can’t wait to read it. Guess I’ll have to buy it too, b/c the library never seems to have much. I am always interested in the “whys” and how we can fix things. And I’d like to share this stuff with my PCP and gyn since they are pretty good with helping me too. But my newer female neuro (though I loved the 1st male neuro in the headache specialty practice I go to) was the one to notice the little nuances of patterns that could be related to ovulation in my very irregular cycle. The female PA there also gave me Frova twice a day several years ago to try, but it didn’t seem to help b/c I never knew when my cycle was starting.

    Ironically, even though I’m still in my mid-40’s, it’s been almost 4 months since my last period but wahoo! they have been sooooooo much better. I also had a couple med changes around that same time so maybe they helped with the migraines too. Hard to tell. I will say I am one happy camper right now! I had almost daily migraines and sleepless nights and was at the bottom of my rope with these things this summer – now I have about 1 a week with mild headaches some days. I’m still working on daily nausea problem but Lord knows, I’ll take all the calcium in the world if this is early menopause and it means the end of severe nausea and constant migraines. That’s when my mom’s eased up and she was about 10 years older than me.

  • ithurts99
    5 years ago

    sorry. I feel like I’m writing a lot but I’m just feeling verbal about this. It is so great your headaches have improved now you’re a little older 🙂 I have found that ginger ale or hot ginger tea are great for nausea. won’t name brands just be aware they are not all the same but when it works it works. you probably already knew that.

  • ithurts99
    5 years ago

    decided to get book. thanks for the heads up. One of my favorite and most helpful books on migraine is by Oliver Sacks and is called simply Migraine. Try to get most up to date version although any one would be helpful.

  • Teri-Robert
    5 years ago

    I love the Sacks book too. The one thing I’d remind you of, however, is that it’s old enough that much of it is outdated. So, some of the information in it is no longer what we’d consider accurate. Still, it’s a good book; just wouldn’t recommend it as the only book someone reads.

  • lepoppet
    5 years ago

    I would also be interested if she mentions those of us with hysterectomies and no longer get periods.

  • ithurts99
    5 years ago

    forgive me if I missed it in your review. I was wondering if the book addresses menopausal and postmenopausal concerns. Thank you.

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