Did you know why the ratio of Migraine is three times more common in women than men
Do you know? More than 60% of migraine headaches are reported more commonly by women than men and the risk of migraine gender ratio is 3:1; i.e the risk is three times higher in women. Inevitably, women are always at the mercy of estrogen and there are a plethora of reasons that account for the fluctuations of estrogen levels in women.
Estrogen is not just a hormone that controls the female reproductive system; it also plays a significant role in maintaining the chemical mediators responsible for producing a headache. Do you experience migraine headaches during your periods? Read further to understand the connection between female hormones and migraine headaches
What Are The Triggers That Cause Migraine In Women?
Women are always subjected to experiencing hormonal oscillations throughout the menstrual cycle. Estrogen levels are at the peak in the middle of the menstrual cycle, which causes ovulation and plummeting at the end of the cycle.
Women are prone to migraine due to two significant triggers:
- Menstruation & hormones
- Medications-Birth control pills
There are three phases where women are very prone to migraine. Let’s discuss those factors that majorly affect women getting more affected by migraines.
Do you know what menstrual migraine is?
It is common in females to have a migraine headache before their periods because a natural dip in estrogen levels before menses acts as a migraine trigger and leads to a migraine attack. It occurs before your period and there will be a drop in both estrogen and progesterone levels. During this premenstrual period, you may feel crampy, have difficulty concentrating, and experience increased food cravings.
What Does Menstrual Migraine Feel Like?
The following are the symptoms of menstrual migraine
- Throbbing headache
- Visual disturbances
- Hot flashes or chills
- Stomach upset
- Sensitive to high-intensity lights
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tender scalp
How Do You Diagnose Menstrual Migraine?
The occurrence of menstrual migraine varies among individuals so to start with the best treatment plan, you need to keep track of your menses, and dates on which you confront migraines and note the frequency, symptoms, and duration of migraine attacks. Discuss your lifestyle and food habits with your doctor to find the best treatment option.
During the first trimester of your gestation period, there is a sudden rise in estrogen levels whereas in contrast, after labor the levels decrease which might trigger migraine. Women will experience sleep disturbances during their post-partum period which can also set off migraine.
Women who approach menopause will experience migraine headaches as the estrogen levels get reduced due to the decline in the functioning of ovaries. Studies show that women in menopause will have a high migraine headache rate of about 10 episodes. Women who have undergone hysterectomy (i.e removal of uterus and ovaries) also experience migraine headaches as they lack estrogen production.
4. Birth Control Pills
Generally, what happens is that women take combined birth control pills for 21 days which is known as active pill days and the rest of 7 days is known as inactive pill days as the pills do not contain any hormones. Mostly the mige headaches occur during the inactive pill days due to the sharp decline in estrogen levels. Women who experience migraine headaches with visual disturbances such as seeing bright spots or patterns are not advised to take birth control pills or oral contraceptives as it is associated with an increase in the risk of stroke. So it is recommended to take pills that contain low doses of estrogen so that women will not experience a severe drop in estrogen. Women with a history of migraine should inform their doctor before starting with birth control pills or oral contraceptives as it can tend to cause deep vein thrombosis.
Migraine - It’s More Than A Headache
Women have to follow some tips to handle and manage this chronic headache. Both menstruating women and women nearing menopause should maintain a diary that contains all the information about migraine attacks, their duration, frequency, and symptoms. Women can switch to other contraceptive methods such as intrauterine devices or vaginal rings instead of consuming birth control pills as they can trigger migraine headaches. Add foods rich in phytoestrogens to prevent the estrogen drop, which include citrus fruits, berries, dry fruits like apricots and dates, leafy greens, and nuts to your everyday diet.
Follow “seed cycling” to maintain a hormonal equilibrium between estrogen and progesterone by consuming flax seeds and pumpkin seeds at the beginning of your menstrual cycle and including sesame seeds for the second half. If you are a woman approaching menopause, incorporate more estrogen and phytoestrogen-rich foods. Consume flax seeds, a vital ingredient for managing menopause and migraine attacks. In addition, include soya chunks and tofu as it helps maintain stable estrogen levels.