“In the past physicians had not really recognized the effect of hormones on migraines,” said Dr. Vincent Martin, co-director of the University of Cincinnati Headache and Facial Pain Program and lead author of a new study that was presented this past June at the American Headache Society annual meeting in Los Angeles.
“Headaches do increase during this time period. It’s what women have been telling us for years,” Martin said. “Peri-menopause and early menopause are very turbulent times for women with migraines.”
Martin said migraine headaches are a menopause symptom, like hot flashes, depression and irritability.
“This provides some hard evidence for what we’ve been seeing for a long time,” said Dr. Andrew Charles, director of the Headache Research and Treatment Program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Charles was not involved with the study.
Those women in the study who had 10 or more headache days a month were considered high frequency, and those with fewer were considered low or moderate frequency. Falling into the frequent headache category was 50% to 60% more common for peri-menopausal and menopausal women than for premenopausal women.
As women move toward menopause, their levels of estrogen fluctuate. “This study charges us to get a better understanding of what exactly is going on,” said Charles.
Another study author, Dr. Richard B. Lipton, director of the Montefiore Headache Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said that migraines tend to worsen during menstruation and that “may seem paradoxical that when periods become irregular during the peri-menopause or absent during menopause that headache becomes more frequent.”
“We believe that both declining estrogen levels that occur at the time of menstruation as well as low estrogen levels that are encountered during the menopause are triggers of migraine in some women,” he said. lattimes.com 8/1/14