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Diagnosis of Migraine & Headache Types

Menstrual Migraine – Hormonal migraine

  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    There are actually many different types of hormonal migraines. Menstrual Migraines can surely be a big problem, but so can those triggered by other hormone issues such as thyroid dysfunction. Being affected by both is a double whammy that can be very difficult to live with.

    Have either of you ever been told that getting a hysterectomy for your menstrual Migraines will cure you? This is a terrible dis-service to Migraineurs and I personally hope to help make sure this mis-information isn’t propagated further.

    My word to the wise: be very wary of the doctor (or anyone else) that tries to talk you into a hysterectomy – or anything else – to “cure” your Migraines. There is a way to “try out” this treatment without surgery, yet few doctors offer it.

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  • By Ravensun

    To be honest, I’ve been very tempted due to horrific cramps on top of the menstrual migraines to beg my doctors to pull the plumbing out, so to speak, anyway. I’m done using it, after all – have a wonderful 15-year-old daughter and NO plans for any more children! – and I’m starting the whole menopause thing… 90% of my reason for wanting to do it is the cramps; if the migraines go away too, great – if not, that’s what imitrex and maxalt are for. :-p

    At least my migraines are predictable. For two or three days, I get horrible cramps. My period starts, and 3 days later, I get a migraine. But, for the last couple of months, no period, so no migraine… at least not one I couldn’t manage with OTCs.

    My other trigger is aspartame, and I can easily avoid THAT – I simply don’t drink diet soda, and I watch anything else that is sugar free. Sucralose doesn’t trigger me (though I think it’s vile anyway…) and I tend to avoid MSG on general principle, but it doesn’t trigger me either. But when I get the menstrual migraines, they can be absolutely debilitating.

    The worst one that I remember, I was trying to control it using OTCs and finally decided it wasn’t going away, and I was killing my stomach lining with the Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, Asprin, and caffeine I’d dumped into myself trying to make it stop, so I crawled to the doctor’s office, got a shot of ibuprofen, something for nausea, and my first maxalt… and my doc did the entire exam in the dark, because I was super photosensitive! How awesome is that? Between the shot and the maxalt, it faded enough I could get home, and the second maxalt did the trick. Then my insurance changed my medication on me and stuck me with imitrex (which works, but is not as effective as the maxalt).

    Glad I’ve changed insurance companies!!! Next migraine, it’ll be maxalt for me.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    RAVENSUN, I’ve written here in other threads about a way to “try before you buy” a hysterectomy to see if it will help your Migraines. Unfortunately it is almost never successful in getting rid of our Migraine nemesis, but at least the drugs used to put you into chemical menopause will give you a clue if you might be one of the rare few who might benefit. Try this link for more information http://bit.ly/o5Jf3D

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  • By gypsy

    I just joined this site today hoping to find some advice for hormonal migraines… i have them through the month everytime my hormones flucuate.. since we are trying to get pregnant they will only put me on HRT for 9 days out of the month which hasnt helped me.. i have had test that says my progesterone and estrogen are low and take immetrex when needed but have to go through side effects with that medicine which makes me sick… cant work due to these life altering migraines… any advice anyone?

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  • By Teri Robert

    Gypsy,
    There are seven medications in the family with Imitrex. The others are Amerge, Zomig, Maxalt, Relpax, Axert, and Frova. It’s well worth trying some of the others to see if they’d work for you with fewer side effects.

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  • By gypsy

    Thank you Teri.. I have tried Maxalt which I liked but due to insurance i had to switch because of cost.. I only get 4 migraine pills a month as it is and i half the immitrex so i have more doses with less side effects also.. Have you heard of woman in perimenopause phase taking HRT more than 9 days a month?

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  • By Teri Robert

    You’re welcome, Gypsy. Yes, I’ve known some women in perimeonpause phase to take HRT daily. Doctors have such varying thoughts on this. As for Migraines, I’ve seen it help some people, make things worse for some, and make no difference for some.

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  • By gypsy

    Well thats good to know.. thats going to be my next attempt of trying to help my migraines and body aches.. Yes I have experienced the diff. opinions of doctors on this subject.. its so confusing.. I guess all I can do is try.. if the HRT doesnt work, do you have any experience with something like beta blockers for migraines on how well they work compared to just migraine medicine?

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  • By Teri Robert

    One of the most difficult things about Migraine management is that there’s so much trial and error to find what works for us.

    Yes, beta blockers have been quite helpful for me for both Migraine prevention and some heart and blood pressure issues. Specifically propranolol and metoprolol, the time-release versions. Time-release verapamil, a calcium channel blocker was a cornerstone of my treatment for about 10 years, both for Migraine prevention and controlling my blood pressure. Well, it was until I lost 60 pounds. Then we had to cut my dosage in half because my blood pressure was too low. Something else that’s done very well for me is the SNRI antidepressant Effexor XR.

    Keep us posted, please?

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  • By gypsy

    Thank you so much Teri.. I appreciate your time and your answers to my questions.. I will definetly keep ya posted…. ! I hope I find something in this never ending search.. If I do I will absolutely post again 🙂

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  • By Teri Robert

    Gypsy,

    You’re welcome. Don’t give up,. You WILL find something. If you don’t find some answers soon, I suggest you consider seeing a Migraine specialist. There IS help out there.

    Teri

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  • By gypsy

    Hi, I was reading somewhere that someone took waterpills a week before there period and a couple days into it and they said it helped them.. and they hadnt had a migraine for 4mos.. and she suffered for 20yrs with hormonal migraines.. Has anyone ever heard of this?

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  • By Angela

    Has anyone tried Mirena IUD for controlling hormonal migraines. I have been getting 6 day stretches of migraines before and during my period that are extremely debilitating.

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    • By Lynmarie

      I had terrible menstrual migraines for years until I tried Vitex (aka Chasteberry). I did all kinds of research and tried almost everything. None of it worked for me. After taking Vitex for about 6 weeks, my menstrual migraines stopped being a big deal. Instead of getting them daily for a week or more, I now get only one or two, and these are very mild. Sometimes I don’t get any at all. I spent most of my life with a “lost week” every month, so its wonderful to not worry if important events are going to fall during my period.

      Vitex is a strangely named herb that helps balance out hormones. I don’t know why I didn’t find it in all the research I did over the years. When I told my gynecologist about my discovery, she was just like, “Oh yeah, Vitex is great!” So why didn’t anyone tell me?! I figured I’d come to the forum and share, in case any of you hadn’t been told either.

      Vitex is cheap, it’s easy to find, and you just take it once a day as a preventative. It takes several weeks to kick in. It also reduced the length of my periods and they are lighter now. Do a search on it — there’s lots of info. Good luck to all of you!

      Lynn

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Gypsy, the most important thing to remember here is that what works for one person, will not work for another. That said, diuretics might be something to try “just in case” it might be helpful to you. If it doesn’t work, don’t get discouraged though, as dehydration tends to be a more frequent trigger than the opposite. Please, do yourself a favor and check with your doctor before trying a diuretic for your Migraine issues. There are specific circumstances when using a diuretic can be dangerous, and only your doctor is going to know if that might be an issue for you. Talking to your doctor will also give you a chance for your doctor to prepare himself/herself in case taking a diuretic actually results in increased or worsened Migraine attacks for you. All good things 🙂

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  • By gypsy

    Thanks Ellen! I will ask my physician about the diurectics..Just thought I could give it a try if my Dr. thinks its ok.. wont hurt.. @ Angela, I have never tried Mirena but I have the same problem as you and they are very debilitaing for me also.. let me know if it works for you.

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  • By carladul

    I know Im a lil late here ladies but if you havent yet tried the mirena for your menstral migraines yet I would personally say dont bother. I was on it for a lil over a yr and still suffered from horrid migraines. the biggest downside is I wasnt able to tell when it was a hormonal migraine or another type of migraine. (I unfortunatly suffer from mixed migraines).. I have taken the Amerge with ok results. Like everyone else my big problem is they only give you X amnt per month… most of us have more migraines than pills. And there is also the fact that you are supposed to take the Amerge at the ONSET of a migraine. Well for people like me that means you have to think long and hard.. “is this a bad basic headache that tylenol or excedrin will work for? or do I NEED that Amerge?” My migraines have tendancies to start out as headaches and turn to full blown, sick-to-my-stomach, cant stand the slightest pin prick of light, and if u whisper I may have to kill you for making noise, migraines in 2 hrs or less. There is another pill (which my personal dr. does not like giving due to the fact there is a narcotic in it) that I have recently been put on called firocet. You can take that even in full blown migraine and (for me at least) it helps ALOT. If I do wond up in full blown mode I take one o f them, a warm shower, and a nice nap and wake up feeling aot better then I did. Sometimes it will be gone completly but most times it is reduced to a dull throb that my busy life can block out most times (I have 4 kids so I have a REAL busy life lol)

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  • By GottaMigraine

    I have had a hysterectomy (3yrs ago) and my migraines have not changed better or worse. I’ve had menstrual migraines for 18years and I approached my Dr. to ask if they would remove my ovaries to see if it would help my migraines. He would not even entertain that option, saying that there are so many downsides to that procedure unless it is medically necessary. Things like osteoperosis (sp?), heart disease are affected dramatically when the ovaries are removed. That, and he said that the pituitary gland is actually the part of the body that produces the estrogen – so if estrogen is part of the cause, then it would still continue with the ovaries out.

    I agree, it isn’t a quick fix – even though when you’re suffering monthly for days at a time, it is very tempting to try ANYTHING to make them go away. My hyterectomy was for something completely different, but I agree with Ellen – don’t let your doc talk you into one to ‘fix’ your migraines. Doesn’t work.

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  • By Becky

    I am the person that had the hysterectomy for migraines – nobody told me it was a cure – I’m no dummy I know there is no cure. But it did help with the menstrual migraines. I was the first person Southern Health approved a hysterectomy for migraines.

    Becky

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  • By MSquared

    This is my very first post…..I was diagnosed with “severe menstrual migraines” in my 20s – a terrible headache once a month like clockwork. I’m now in my mid-50s and going through menopause and for the past year and a half or so I’ve been getting severe migraines all the time. I started keeping a log in 2014, a few months after my monthly migraines became chronic; my total for the year came to about 150 (I only record them when they are severe). Thankfully, maxalt plus 2 advils makes the headache go away, but I have had no luck with any preventive meds. Recently, I started with hot flashes and night sweats and the migraines are actually a little better (2 a week for the last three weeks). I’ve also started getting a combination of deep tissue and craniosacral massage which also seems to be helping. I read that 66% of people with pure hormonal migraines stop getting them after menopause and I’m desperately hoping I’m one of them. I have a very demanding job and am doing my best to get through this….I don’t know exactly why I’m writing this – I just thought being a more active participant in this community might make me feel a little less alone in all of this!

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    • By Camassia

      My migraine also got worse in menopause, at age 50. In fact I was not even aware that I had migraines before as the symptoms were either infrequent or mild. I don’t even know if they were connected to the menstrual cycle as I did not pay attention, although I definitely remember more symptoms around age 39, when I started peri menopause, and a few years before menses stopped. From my readings on the subject it appears that it may take 2-5 years for hormones to stabilize after menopause, and during this time migraine could be worse. Apparently when estrogen levels drop so do serotonin levels. I noticed a lot more anxiety/depression in the past years without any apparent reason. This supposed to be common in menopause and I wonder if this is behind making migraine worse. I have almost daily migraine symptoms for the past 4 months although since I’m doing a lot to calm my nervous system and control anxiety/panic, I seem to be able to function better. I also get hot flashes but because they dilate my blood vessels very quickly they actually trigger migraine symptoms.

      I hope for both of us to get through this soon. 🙂

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