The article has been medically reviewed by Doctor Ramlah Tariq FCPS on/gyn, RMP, MBBS, BSc.
As if period cramps, mood swings and insomnia wasn’t enough during our monthly cycle. Some of us unlucky ones also have to deal with menstrual migraines or hormonal headaches. Just like the other symptoms us ladies endure, this is likely to stop you in your tracks.
You might reach for paracetamols and dive deep under the covers, however, there are other options when it comes to managing this type of pain.
In this blog, we are going to explain why you get them, how you know it is one and how you can manage a hormonal headache or menstrual migraine.
What causes period headaches?
Menstrual migraines and period headaches, are tied to changes in your hormone levels which occur just before your period starts.
Estrogen and progesterone drop off before the very start of your period, which is when it is most likely for one of these hormonal headaches to occur. However, some people even experience them in the first 3 days of their period when hormone levels are at their lowest.
How do you know if you have a hormonal headache or a menstrual migraine?
These types of headaches can rear their ugly head the week before you are due or even during your period. The pain is a throbbing which starts on the side of your head. It can cause you to feel sick, be sick, avoid all light and you may also see an aura.
If this sounds like something you face each month, then your hormones could be causing a menstrual migraine.
How long will a period headache or menstrual migraine last?
Your period headache could stick around for 1-3 days. Some people report longer lasting period headaches which can get in the way of both your work and social life.
Natural remedies for menstrual migraines and period headaches
CBD is a natural way to help with menstrual migraines and period headaches. It isn’t a new method either, people have been using it for thousands of years.
There are studies in the pipeline, however, we hear some great anecdotal evidence from people who have tried the cannabinoid to help with their headache.
Some have said that it helps to ease the pain as well as shorten the attacks. The Wellbeingblogger wrote:
“The discomfort doesn’t go away completely, but I can at least function properly and finish my working day without feeling strongly nauseated and sick. That is already a massive big win because menstrual migraines are incredibly horrible and debilitating!”Wellbeingblogger
This is a practice that involves applying pressure to specific parts of the body to help with symptoms. This has even been found to help relieve migraine-associated nausea.
For a period headache, one place to try is applying pressure to the L1-4 point, which is between the base of your thumb and forefinger. Find the space on your left hand and apply pressure to it using your right.
Ginger is well known to help ease nausea that you might feel if you are suffering from menstrual migraine. Try a knob of ginger in hot water or a ginger tea. Ginger biscuits and even just smelling it can help ward off nausea.
If you head is throbbing, try a cool flannel or ice pack to your head or neck. This can help to constrict blood vessels and reduce the pain.
Preventative methods to avoid menstrual migraines and period headaches
If you are prone to migraines, then a menstrual one is more likely to be on the cards for you.
Make sure you avoid certain trigger foods leading up to your period and in the first few days. Common trigger foods include:
- Chocolate (sorry!)
- Cheeses such as feta, cheddar, and Swiss
- Red wine (sorry again!)
- MSG foods
- Processed foods
- Ice cream and cold drinks
- Pickled foods
The best thing to do to find your trigger is to keep a food diary.
When you suffer from a migraine look back at the diary to see what could have triggered it, alongside your hormone changes.
Exercising on a regular schedule throughout the month can help you to reduce the intensity of headaches and migraines.
When you go for a run, dance, ride a bike or lift weights your body will release endorphins. Exercise also helps you to sleep better and reduces feelings of stress.
If you suffer from hormone headaches then you might want to stay clear of high intensity sessions when your period is due as HIIT can trigger a migraine.
Don’t you hate it when people tell you to relax… sorry. But it could help if you are suffering from a hormonal headache.
Make sure you take enough time out of your day for some relaxation. When you are stressed you will be more likely to suffer a migraine attack. Stress can also cause tension headaches.
Get enough sleep
Aiming for 7-8 hours sleep a night should be your gold standard. Getting enough sleep is one way to keep hormonal headaches at bay.
Good sleep hygiene will link to lots of other parts of your life, so it is important to aim for a decent kip.
Eat enough during the day
Not eating enough calories in the day can be another trigger of a migraine or hormone headache.
If you are someone who suffers from a monthly attack then try eating several little meals rather than 3 main meals. This can prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping and triggering a headache.
Dehydration is going to be headache causing factor, whether it is hormonal or not. Make sure you are drinking around 8 glasses a day, or more if you are doing exercise.
Keep a bottle next to your desk or workspace so you don’t forget. Remember, coffee and tea do not count towards your 8 glasses, but caffeine free, herbal tea do.
Don’t let your hormones ruin your day!
Do you suffer from hormonal headaches? They really can cause you to be much less functioning, if at all functioning, human being! What is your go-to natural remedy for menstrual migraines?