The “PMS Pinch”: my PMS migraine actually feels different from my normal attacks

I have a question I’ve been meaning to ask you ladies for a long time. I’m not sure why I waited this long—perhaps my burning curiosity got the better of me at last, or maybe it’s because my period is here (oh, joy) and I feel hazy with migraine medication and I finally remembered to get around to it.

Here goes:  do your menstrual-related migraines feel different from your run-of-the-mill migraines that occur at different points throughout the month?  I’m not talking about other symptoms we ladies are every so lucky (sarcasm alert) to experience every twenty-eight days or so. I am all too familiar with what I experience during my period: the aches in my nether regions and back, plus the exhaustion and the seemingly constant need to pee.

What I’m curious about is the actual type of head pain you experience before and during your period.

For years now, my menstrual-related migraines (which usually show up like clockwork—read more on how I have started handling them here) have just felt different from my other migraine attacks. Once in a blue moon, my period shows up a couple of days early, and the main warning sign I get is a special kind of pinching in my head during a migraine that is unique to my menstrual-related migraine.


I’ve started using my own shorthand to describe this odd little headache that signals the beginning of a menstrual-related migraine. The “PMS Pinch” shows up precisely two days before the first drops of blood show.  (Sorry to y’all out there who are super-duper squeamish—that’s as detailed as I’ll get.  Just FYI to the handful of people, especially some guys, who tend to cover their ears when the word “menstruation” is uttered: between menarche and menopause*, the vast majority of healthy women get their periods approximately once a month. There’s blood involved, and it’s not really the most pleasant or pretty thing in the world, but can we agree to talk about it without getting all icky and grossed out? Kthxbai.)

Back to the PMS Pinch.  It’s not a particularly painful sensation. It shows up subtly, at about a 2 on a 1-10 scale of how distracting/disabling it is.  It hovers around the 3-4 range and then goes away after a few hours whether or not I medicate.  At no other time of the month, despite how rough my migraine attacks have been or how frequent, do I feel this particular brand of pinching pain in my head about two inches behind the left side of my forehead.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised—migraine is a tricky illness that manifests in a variety of ways in just one person. But it still is odd to me that my PMS migraine always starts with the PMS Pinch, a feeling I never have with any other migraines.

Do any of you ladies sense a difference between your menstrual-related migraine episodes and your “regular” ones? Can any of you relate to what I have nicknamed the “PMS Pinch”?
*Full confession, by the way: I’m writing this during a particularly exhausting postdrome phase and am having a lot of trouble finding the right words I want to use. I spent two minutes trying to think of the word “menopause” and actually had to go to Google and search “word for when your period stops forever.” Thought y’all would appreciate that aside.

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