Menstrual Migraine


Women suffer migraines three times more frequently than men do; and, menstrual migraines affect 70% of these women. They occur during ovulation or before, during, or immediately after the menstrual period. While it is not the only hormonal cause, serotonin is the primary hormonal trigger in everyone’s headache. Some researchers believe that migraine is an inherited disorder that somehow affects the way serotonin is metabolized in the body. For women, it is how serotonin interacts with uniquely female hormones. Menstrual migraines are primarily caused by estrogen, the female sex hormone that specifically regulates the menstrual cycle fluctuations throughout the cycle. When the levels of estrogen and progesterone change, women are more vulnerable to headaches. Women on birth control pills may experience more menstrual migraines because oral contraceptives influence estrogen levels.

The menstrual migraine’s symptoms are similar to migraine without aura. It begins as a one-sided, throbbing headache accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to bright lights and sounds. An aura may precede the menstrual migraine.

The PMS headache occurs before a woman’s period and is associated with a variety of symptoms that distinguish it from the typical menstrual headache. The symptoms include headache pain accompanied by fatigue, acne, joint pain, decreased urination, constipation and lack of coordination. You may also experience an increase in appetite and a craving for chocolate, salt, or alcohol. PMS sufferers may also complain of fear, panic attacks, decreased sexual desire, impaired judgment or memory, sensitivity to rejection and even paranoia. These symptoms usually disappear when menstruation begins.

Remember that all medications have side effects, and you should discuss them with your doctor.


  • NSAIDs
  • Ergotamines
  • Diuretics
  • Estrogen