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From Menses to Menopause: A Call for Stories on Hormonal Migraine

Hormonal changes are a leading cause of migraine in women. Whether caused from menstrual cycles, pregnancy, or menopause, hormonal migraines can be among the most severe and difficult to treat.  

Just like with all migraines, women have a wide variety of experiences related to hormonal migraine. What’s harder about this issue is that we don’t talk openly about women's hormones.

To that end, we’d like to invite you to share your experiences in the comment section below so we can bring light to an important topic and learn from one another.

Menstrual migraine

For many, their first migraine attacks occur in synchrony with their first menses. Fluctuations occur during our menstrual cycle (changes in progestin and estrogen, for example) and each of us responds differently to these changes. I personally had migraine attacks at the age of six but not until I got my period did my attacks intensify in severity and with neurological symptoms including nausea and vomiting.

To address this issue, my neurologist put me on a continuous birth control pill to regulate my hormonal cycle. This did wonders for me as it all but stopped me from getting my period.

Pregnancy

For many who have hormonal migraine, pregnancy brings a dramatic shift in their pain pattern. You’ve probably heard some women speak about having a complete break from migraine attacks during pregnancy. I had heard these stories and had high hopes this would be the case for me.

My reality was the complete opposite. I had the worst migraine attacks of my life during pregnancy and in the months after while breastfeeding. I was literally bed-bound for most of both of my pregnancies due to severe chronic migraine accompanied by intense neurological symptoms including vomiting.

Menopause

Many women report a complete break in having migraine once they move through menopause. I visited an OBGYN specialist to ask what I might expect in menopause (I’m not quite there yet), given my history with experiencing an uptick during pregnancy. She said that because I had an increase in migraine attacks during pregnancy that my outlook for migraine to disappear in menopause was not great. 

She said most women who experience a break from migraine during pregnancy are the same women who experience a stop in menopause. This is due to the fact that some of us respond differently to specific hormones (some of us are triggered by changes in estrogen, others by progestin, others by both).

Bringing light to our stories

We are all so very different and yet are facing a situation that is not openly or frequently discussed. Please share your experiences with the intersection between migraine and menses, pregnancy, and menopause in the comment section below so that we can connect, relate, and better understand our experiences.

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.

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