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Are migraines during my period normal?

By May 29, 2008 - 9:33am
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I have horrible headaches around my period. Am I OK? Do most women get headaches like these? Or am I just one of a lucky few?

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EmpowHER Guest

I am also having headaches that start the day before my cycle, If I don't catch it at the first sign I end up with a huge migraine that stays all day and all night.I have noticed also that my cycle is a bit heavier then normal as I only just started getting the headaches in the last year or so, I think it might be caused by blood loss, or the back up of blood flow before the cycle(???) I know they really are a bother,and I wish you all well.
Blessed Be

August 16, 2009 - 4:59am
(reply to Anonymous)

Migraines that occur around the same time of the cycle, as part of the "pre-menstrual syndrome", are thought to be connected to the changing level of hormones in your body.

I just wanted to point out that there is no "back up" of blood flow during a menstrual cycle; this blood originates from the thicker lining of your uterus and is not "backed up" anywhere. When you menstruate, the blood and tissue from the thicker uterine lining is shed over a period of 3-5 days.

In a normal period, the headaches are most likely not caused from blood loss, as it may seem like a lot of blood that is "lost"...but it is only a few tablespoons over several days to a week.

In women who do have heavier-than-normal periods, a headache or migraine could be caused by any number of issues (hormones, blood loss), but wanted to let you know that most women with normal menstrual bleeding do not have the same symptoms from what we think of "excess blood loss" (headache, dizziness, fatigue, confusion, etc).

August 16, 2009 - 7:18am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Alison Beaver)

Actually, they think the endometriosis caused by rerograde menstruation. I have endometriosis which is a debilitating condition in which the lining of the uterus does not flush out right and moves onto other organs in the body. Usually they attach to the ovaries and bladder. Since the endometrium cells are what cause cramping, these cell pockets on the other organs have the potential to cause excrutiating pain.
I have endometriosis, but I also have menstrual migraines sometimes too. I am taking YAZ which helped for years with my pain and migraines. But now, it doesn't seem to be so effective. I have now noticed that my migraines are back for the 2 days before my period. Also that I am having intense, painful, cramps-- the ones I had before taking YAZ. And these episodes are becoming longer and more frequent.
Has anyone heard of birth control losing its effectiveness?

March 22, 2011 - 6:45pm
EmpowHER Guest

I also have headaches during my menstrual cycle that can develop into migraines if I dont catch them at onset. I have found that if I take over the counter migraine pain relief at the onset of a low grade headache then I can sometimes control them. It is a good idea to journal your symptoms to find out the triggers and to know the signs of the onset of a migraine. I have found that if I dont pay attention to the low grade headache then it will begin to bother my vision which is my first sign that I have let it go too far. Check this link out for more help.


Hope it helps.

December 19, 2008 - 10:09am
EmpowHER Guest

I don't think I've ever had a true migraine, but I've always had really bad headaches that start the day before my period starts and last for 1-2 days. Sometimes I feel like I can't think or focus on anything because of the headaches. I've read that they're associated with the drop in estrogen at that point in a cycle.

Anyway, I went on a birth control pill (Yaz) a few months ago, and since then have not had a single period-related headache. I'm really amazed, because although I expected the pill to help me with mood swings, heavy bleeding, and other symptoms I was having, I didn't realize it would help relieve the headaches. I wonder if the pill would help with migraines as well.

Kristin Davis

May 29, 2008 - 10:51pm

I am one of the "lucky few" as well! :-) I never thought about inquiring about it, as I figured it is just one of those unfortunate consequences of being female...so I am so glad you asked!

I can almost guarantee a headache and mood changes with irritability right before, or on day one, of my period. If I take ibuprofen (just the regular dose in the morning), avoid salty foods and avoid TV and the computer screen that day, I can help my chances of preventing a migraine and "just" have a headache.

Have you found anything that helps you? How bad is your migraine (are you sensitive to light, etc)? Do you have other symptoms, too?

I think I will track my migraine, as the above resource suggests (Dr. Bernstein)...sounds like good advice!

May 29, 2008 - 12:25pm

Sorry to hear you're having so many issues with headaches around your period. You may want to watch these interviews with Dr. Carolyn Bernstein, Neurologist and Director of the Women’s Headache Center at Cambridge Health Alliance, and see if they help answer your questions.

WATCH THIS: Dr. Bernstein, What Kind of Doctor Do I See About Migraines?

WATCH THIS: Dr. Bernstein, Why are Migraines an Illness?

WATCH THIS: Dr. Bernstein, Can Migraines Affect Your Vision?

WATCH THIS: Headache Doctor Bernstein Explains Why Women Should Track Their Migraines

Do you take anything to help with the pain?

May 29, 2008 - 9:44am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Tina Tran)

Unfortunately, I suffer from migraines everyday. I have done alot of digging and found that many of the foods I ate were triggers. I knew of the "typical" triggers but had no idea so many other foods could be the cause. I have shrank my diet down to carrots, apples and grilled chicken with the occasional snack on wheat thins and have been able to go a few days at a time without a migraine.

I also found that migraines, in rare occasions, can cause stroke or aneurysms, subsequently, death. This shocked me; that was when I decided I needed to try to control the migraines with food & exercise.

I definitely get migraines that last for 2-3 days just before and the first few days of my cycle. I recently spoke to my doctor about taking an estrogen replacement (Estroven) to see if it would help. I cannot take the pill due to the other side effects they cause, ie. stroke. We will be trying the Estroven during my next cycle.

I tried to link to the videos in your post, but they didn't work. I'll search them on this site to see if I can find them.


July 16, 2008 - 12:08pm
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