Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Menopause Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Migraines and Menopause

Female hormones and migraine headaches are linked. That's one of the reasons why women are three times more likely to get migraines than men.

For many women, menopause brings a welcome end to these headaches. But the hormonal changes leading up to menopause can sometimes make things worse before they get better.

Recommended Related to Menopause

Hormone Therapy for Menopause and Perimenopause

By Francesca ColtreraYour need-to-know guide to today's hormone therapy -- what's safe, what's new, what's right for you Not long ago, a friend told me about a coffee date she’d had with a 50-something former office mate, Susan. As the two women were sipping their lattes and catching up on each other’s lives, Susan nervously glanced around the coffee shop, then leaned across the table and confided in a low voice, “I’m taking estrogen.” So it’s come to this. Whereas women once chatted openly...

Read the Hormone Therapy for Menopause and Perimenopause article > >

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"
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Vomiting

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:

  • Bright lights
  • Foods or drinks
  • Hunger
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Strong scents

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.
  • Cut stress using relaxation methods such as deep breathing, exercise, or massage.

You can also try medicines to relieve your headaches. Migraine drugs fall into two categories.

Medicines that help prevent migraines from starting:

Medicines that relieve a migraine once it has already started:

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

woman walking outdoors
How to handle headaches, night sweats, and more.
mature woman holding fan in face
Symptoms and treatments.
 
woman hiding face behind hands
11 ways to keep skin bright and healthy.
insomnia
Is it menopause or something else?
 
senior couple
Video
mature woman shopping for produce
Article
 
Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
Article
mature couple on boat
Article
 

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

mature woman tugging on her loose skin
Slideshow
senior woman wearing green hat
Article
 
mature woman
Article
supplements
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections