Plenty of things change when it comes time for the menopause. Some of them are more well-known like mood swings and hot flushes, but there are some significant changes which are less often talked out. One of these changes is the effect which the perimenopause and menopause can have on a person’s migraines.
Migraines are significantly more common in women of reproductive age partly due to regularly fluctuating hormone levels. Just before a period begins oestrogen levels drop and this withdrawal may help to trigger a migraine attack. In fact, one article in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders cites a 71% increase in the risk of having a migraine in the two days leading up to a period. Oddly enough though, high levels of oestrogen which are common when leading up to ovulation can also help to trigger a migraine attack.
When the perimenopause comes (the time leading up to the menopause) and a person’s periods become less regular, migraines may become more frequent and severe. However, once the perimenopause has led into the menopause and the menopause has passed (which is defined by doctors as a period of 12 months without menstrual cycles) it’s been found that migraines may improve. Most population-level studies show that migraine headaches usually improve after menopause, and possibly this is because a person no longer experiences the hormone fluctuations.
Unfortunately for some people they can find that their migraines get worse. If this is the case, then there are some things which can be done. A 2017 research article recommends continuous hormone therapy as a way to reduce migraines, and as an added bonus hormone replacement therapy can help to ease other menopause symptoms.