Migraines are more common in people between the ages of 15 and 55 and 75% of migraine sufferers are women. Around 30 million Americans suffer from migraines, some more frequently and with greater intensity than others. Here are some of the causes of women’s migraines.
Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle are a major migraine trigger. This is because your body changes, sometimes in imperceptible ways, but that is enough to cause pain. The pain can happen at any time during the cycle, not only on the first day.
Around 60% to 70% of women who have migraines claim they’re related to their menstrual cycle. When their estrogen and progesterone levels drop just as the cycle starts, it’s a typical time for a migraine to strike.
It is believed that estrogen affects how the body views pain. It affects the levels of serotonin, a chemical that helps the brain’s blood vessels dilate. If the vessels are constricted, that causes pain, whether it’s headaches or migraines. Low estrogen levels will increase the brain’s pain sensitivity. Doctors suggest that taking a lower estrogen dose, or taking a regular dose instead of an irregular one can help manage migraines easier.
If a woman is pregnant, in most cases she won’t suffer from migraines during that time. However, it is possible to get migraines early on, but they will usually disappear by the third month of pregnancy.
During pregnancy, migraine medication isn’t recommended, as it can affect the placenta and the uterus, as well as possibly creating abnormalities in the baby when it is born. A mild analgesic may be prescribed for pain, but a doctor or obstetrician should always be consulted to talk about pain management techniques that are safe for the baby and mother during the pregnancy.
As a woman ages, she goes through perimenopause and, after that, menopause. Progesterone levels drop, and lots of women use hormone replacement therapy, estrogen patches and birth control pills, in an effort to increase estrogen to try and balance things; however, estrogen and progesterone can fall out of sync from time to time.
Progesterone controls the negatives of having too much estrogen. If women don’t have enough, they can have PMS, hot flashes and fluid retention. So if you think you’re out of balance, don’t solve the problem yourself. Talk to your doctor and get tested to see if there’s a hormonal imbalance. Then, if required, you can take progesterone replacement supplements to balance yourself.
Of course there are many other migraine causes for both women and men including: a bad diet, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, smoking, drinking, allergies, lack of sleep, missing meals, stress, powerful smells, very loud noises, bright lights and even the weather.
As with any medical problems, it is best to talk to your doctor before taking any action. Sure, you can learn more about your condition on the internet, but that information will not be good enough to help you diagnose yourself. Your doctor is the only person qualified to do that, so treat your health with respect and you will be better off for it.