Headaches & Hormones

Can estrogen aggravate headache?

Absolutely. It is believed that estrogen influences certain brain receptors that are linked to migraine and migraine-like headaches. Therefore, fluctuations in estrogen (at the menstrual period, while using oral contraceptives, during estrogen replacement therapy, with pregnancy, etc.) may provoke the worsening of headaches. The estrogen connection is thus very important. More women than men have significant headaches of a migraine type because of this connection.

What treatment is available for menstrual migraines?

Migraine headache associated with the menstrual period is sometimes difficult to control. Fortunately, many women respond favorably to the same medications used for headaches not related to menstruation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., Naproxen or ibuprofen) used as preventive medication are often prescribed. Supplemental estrogen given prior to menstruation is sometimes prescribed. Ergot derivatives or sumatriptan are prescribed for control of acute pain. Dihydroergotamine nasal spray is sometimes effective. Ask your MHNI physician to prescribe a course of treatment which is best for you.