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Menopause Health Center

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Migraines May Worsen During Menopause

Women in perimenopause, menopause have more migraines than premenopausal women, study finds

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Kathleen Doheny

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- New research confirms what women with migraine headaches have told their doctors for years: migraine attacks seem to get worse in the years before and during menopause.

"In women who have migraine, headaches increase by 50 to 60 percent when they go through the perimenopause and menopausal time periods," said Dr. Vincent Martin, professor of medicine and co-director of the Headache and Facial Pain Program at the University of Cincinnati.

The new finding, Martin said, "basically confirms what women have been telling us physicians for decades. We finally have some evidence."

The perimenopausal period is the time when the body is transitioning to menopause -- when monthly periods end. Perimenopause can last several years, and is often marked by irregular periods, hot flashes and sleep problems. Perimenopause can begin in the 40s, and menopause occurs, on average, at age 51, according to the U.S. National Institute on Aging.

The study is due to be presented on Wednesday at the American Headache Society annual meeting in Los Angeles. Findings presented at meetings are generally considered preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Martin and his colleagues surveyed just over 3,600 women, aged 35 to 65, in a mailed questionnaire that asked about their menopausal status and whether they had migraines and, if they did, how often. The women were classified as having high frequency headaches if they had 10 or more headache days a month.

The women in the study were about evenly divided among the three groups: premenopausal, perimenopausal and postmenopausal.

While 8 percent of the premenopausal group had frequent headaches, 12.2 percent of the perimenopausal group did along with 12 percent of the menopausal women.

At first, the results might seem puzzling, since experts know that younger women often get migraines right before and at the beginning of the menstrual cycle, said study researcher Dr. Richard Lipton, director of the Montefiore Medical Center Headache Center and professor of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York City.

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