When she was 26, Lara Dietz learned she had breast cancer -- a shock to this mother of two very young children. Then came the second blow. When treatment began, so did premature menopause. "I was having hot flashes," she says. "I felt like I was 55 years old."
When menopause occurs between ages 45 to 55, it is considered "natural." When it occurs before age 40 -- regardless the cause -- it is called premature menopause. The ovaries no longer produce an egg each month, so monthly menstrual cycles...
Still, no matter when in life you have migraines, the right treatment can help prevent the headaches or make the pain go away.
What Makes Migraines Different?
People who get migraines describe them as an intense pulsing or throbbing type of pain, often on one side of the head. Along with the pain they can also have symptoms like:
Flashing lights or "aura"
Sensitivity to light
When you have one, you may be unable to do your normal activities.
Many people get migraines from time to time. But some, usually women, have them as often as 15 or more days each month.
These headaches are triggered by things like:
Foods or drinks
Lack of sleep
The Migraine-Hormone Link
A drop in the female hormone, estrogen, can also set off migraines. That's why women who get migraines often have headaches right before their period, when estrogen levels are low. During pregnancy, estrogen levels rise, bringing many women a break from these headaches. But they often start up again after the baby is born.
As you get closer to menopause, your hormone levels can swing up and down, and your periods may get more irregular. If your migraines are tied to your menstrual cycle, they may become as unpredictable as your periods.
Some women get migraines for the first time, or their headaches get more intense, in the years just before menopause. Others find that their migraines become less frequent and less intense.
Women who had their uterus and ovaries removed with surgery often have more of a problem with migraines than those who go into menopause naturally.
Treating Menopause Migraines
You have many options for relieving migraines.
Sometimes a few simple lifestyle changes can help:
Keep a diary of what you eat, and try to avoid foods that trigger your migraines. Some of these may include: aged cheese, chocolate, or artificial sweeteners.
Eat meals at regular times.
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.