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How Hormone Changes Can Trigger Headaches in Women

Aug 10, 2021
How Hormone Changes Can Trigger Headaches in Women
Unlike men, women’s hormones fluctuate considerably throughout their lives, and these highs and lows can create, among other problems, headaches and migraines. Here’s a closer look at hormonal head pain.

Every month your head pounds before or during your period, or you’re struggling with headaches while trying to breastfeed your newborn. These are just two examples in which women experience hormone-related head pain.

When it comes to headaches and migraines, the team here at Commonwealth Pain and Spine has considerable experience helping our patients find relief. While there are any number of reasons why people develop head pain, hormonally triggered headaches and migraines are largely unique to women.

Headaches and your menstrual cycles

Every month, your reproductive hormone levels, especially estrogen and progesterone, rise and fall twice during your menstrual cycles. The precipitous drop of hormones after ovulation has been shown to trigger menstrual-related headaches, which are usually migraines or tension headaches.

Headaches and hormonal controls

If you’re taking a hormonal contraceptive or a hormone replacement therapy, the change in hormone levels can contribute to the development of headaches.

Pregnancy and birth

During your pregnancy, your estrogen levels increase dramatically, which is why many women who usually suffer from hormone-related head pain find relief from the problem during pregnancy.

The bad news is that once you give birth, your estrogen levels come crashing down, which can lead to headaches and migraines.

Perimenopause and menopause

The passage through menopause, which first begins with perimenopause, occurs when your ovaries start to shut down and cease to ovulate. This also means that your estrogen levels will drop, since your ovaries are the primary producers of these hormones.

Treating your hormone-related head pain

If you suspect that your head pain is related to your hormones, we first want to figure out what type of headache you’re experiencing. As we mentioned, most women develop tension headaches or migraines, and the symptoms are very different. 

The hallmarks of a migraines are:

  • Throbbing pain, usually on one side of your head
  • Visual disturbances (aura)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

These headaches can last 72 hours and occur with or without an aura.

Tension headaches, on the other hand, are marked by a feeling that your head is in a vice-like grip that forms a band around your head.

Once we identify the source of your head pain, we can devise the appropriate treatment plan, which may include:

  • Botox® injections for migraines
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Trigger avoidance 
  • Stress reduction techniques

The first step in finding relief from your hormonal headaches is to make an appointment with one of our pain management experts at a location near you. These locations include St. Matthews, Elizabethtown, Lexington, Crestview Hills, Owensboro, and London, Kentucky. Indiana offices are in Evansville, Vincennes, New Albany, Carrollton, and Jasper. We also serve patients from Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio