One of the most dreaded conditions by women as they age is menopause. The reason for this fear may be grounded on the fact that this phase comes to all women and marks the end of the fertile period of the woman. When this period comes about, there are associated changes in the body which come about due to a reduction of estrogen, the main hormone produced in the body to facilitate menstruation. The reduction of this hormone comes with a lot of effects on the body which include hot flashes, reduction of bone mass in the body, night sweats, migraines among other signs.
One of the most common menopause signs that women have been complaining of is migraines. Most women complain of headaches as they enter into menopause. As the years progress in menopause, a lot of women have been complaining that the severity of the migraines increased and it made them not function to their full capacity. This has been thought to be just but a chance event and it has what led a group of researchers in Cincinnati to carry out a research on the effects of migraines and whether or not their severity increases in time.
According to the results from the University of Cincinnati, Montefiore Headache Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Vedanta Research researchers, it was confirmed that indeed headache severity increases as one moves along menopause years. The lead researcher stated that the hypothesis was that women had been complaining of increased headache severity as they go deeper into menopause and hence the study. The study proved that the women were right in their analogy.
The study states that risk of having repeat headaches which last in excess of 10 days per month increased by 60 percent in women who were in menopause as compared to the women who were in their normal cycles. This indicated that the severity of headaches could be related to menopause among the women. The study was published in The Journal of Head and Face Pain which is a publication of the American Headache Society.
The study looked at a sample of 3664 women who had complained of migraines before and during menopause. The included years were peri-menopause and menopause years, where peri-menopause referred to the period when menstrual cycles had stopped but not longer than a year had lapsed to mark the beginning of menopause. At this point in time, menopause signs such as hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, insomnia as depression are quite common.
The migraine risk was highest in perimenopause months when menstrual cycles were absent. At this time, it was noted that women start having low estrogen levels in the body and thus the various menopause signs start being apparent.
Of the study participants, 76% reported that there was a high frequency of headaches occurring in menopause years as opposed to when they were having their normal monthly cycles. The researchers attributed this not as a direct result of the hormonal changes occurring in the body but as a result of medication overuse that is quite common in this period in time, with most women trying to contain the various menopause symptoms the best way they know how.
As menopause will come with symptoms such as muscle pains, joint pain and even back pain, this increased use of medication to contain the symptoms may be the cause of the migraines in menopause. For cross-sectional analysis, a group of 24,000 women of age 35 -65 was used. These are people who had reported severe headache annually for the past 6 years. In this case, women were asked to do a self-report on their menstrual cycles as per the characteristics they had. From what was observed, these women were grouped into three groups. These included pre-menopause or normally cycling women, perimenopause which referred to irregularly cycling women and menopause which means there had been no cycle for the past one year. The group in perimenopause and menopause reported higher headaches that those in premenopause.
In as much as migraines are common in menopause, these can be contained by making informed lifestyle changes, to be in line with the changes that occur in menopause. If the migraines and menopause signs are severe, hormonal therapy can be prescribed by a physician. Birth control pills level things out in perimenopause and estrogen patches or pills can help in menopause.