While menopause is often associated with many different symptoms, menopause and migraines often go hand-in-hand. For the woman going through the change of life, this can be a very disruptive symptom that can make life miserable. Recent studies conducted with American women going through menopause show that 17.6% experience one or more every year.
Typically, menopause and migraines have a lot to do with the fluctuation in the female hormone, estrogen, especially when levels spike. For this reason, when a woman is taking hormone replacement therapy to treat all of her menopause symptoms, the migraines are generally worse and more frequent.
In other words, while migraines are common, when estrogen levels are low, these headaches develop less often. The problem with this is while the menopause and migraine problem is decreased, the woman not having enough estrogen in her system puts her at risk for worse things such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and even a higher risk of heart disease.
Obviously, this makes the issue of menopause and migraines a tough one to deal with in that you want the symptoms to be under control but you also do not want the increased risk of other health problems.
Menopause and Migraines – Steps to Take
The first step for a woman dealing with menopause and migraines is to seek professional medical care to ensure the headaches are in fact migraines. Keep in mind that headaches occur for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with menopause so this step is an important one.
In addition, signs that a postmenopausal headache is something other than a migraine would include a loss of sensation, overall weakness and fatigue, confusion, and eye muscle paralysis (seeing double).
Being able to distinguish one type of headache from another is highly beneficial. Now, if the problem is a migraine, then certain symptoms would present such as sensitivity and trigger to loud noise, bright lights, certain smells, stress, medication, caffeine, change in weather, insomnia, change in hormonal levels, and even diet and hunger.
If the woman has menopause and migraines, and she experiences two or more a month, then she might talk to her doctor about taking beta blockers. These are approved by the FDA in treating this type of problem. Specifically, you would see drugs such as Elavil, Zoloft, or Prozac used. While these drugs are also used for treating depression, they balance the serotonin levels in the brain, which also has an effect on migraines.
For most women, the key is to learn how to stop the migraine before it becomes explosive. Usually, the doctor will prescribe medications that help to open up the blood vessels that close off during a migraine. Therefore, any woman going through menopause that suffers from headaches needs to understand she has options – viable options.
In most cases, medications such as Naproxen, Fiorinal, and Sumatriptan are highly beneficial. Remember, to stop migraines from occurring in the first place, the fluctuation of estrogen levels would need to be leveled off, which can be done with hormone replacement therapy as well as many herbal remedies.
Finally, experts now believe the consumption of soy can help. With high levels of phytoestrogen, foods rich in soy help regulate estrogen within the body, thus cutting back the migraine problem.