Many women find that their menstrual cycle affects their migraine

Most women who experience migraine have their first attack during their teens, many around the time of their first period. The psychological impact of having these two events together can be traumatic.

Impact of the menstrual cycle

Around 50% of women with migraine say their menstrual cycle directly affects their migraine. The whole menstrual cycle, not just your period, is associated with biological changes in your body, both physical and psychological. Sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, and the physical and chemical processes that go towards producing them, all have a widespread effect on your body.

It has long been recognised that there is a close relationship between female sex hormones and migraine. Some women are more sensitive to the fluctuations within the menstrual cycle. Studies suggest that migraine can be triggered by a drop in oestrogen levels such as those which naturally occur in the time just before your period. Factors such as the release of prostaglandin (a naturally occurring fatty acid that acts in a similar way to a hormone) may also be implicated at this time.

Keeping a diary

Keeping a diary for at least three months is an effective way to show if there is any link between your migraine and your periods. After three months you can review your diary to see if your migraine can be managed better and if it highlights a particular hormonal connection. You will need to take your diary to your GP so that you can discuss the best course of action to manage your migraine.

Menstrual migraine

There is a specific type of migraine called ‘menstrual migraine’ – read more about it and its treatment.

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