Are more headaches in menopause normal?


Eileen Durward
@EileenDurward


07 May 2020

Today's topic

Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm answering the question, "Is getting more headaches in the menopause normal?

So, is getting more headaches in the menopause normal? Yes. This is very common and it's also a lot more common to get migraines, too. And this is for women who may never have been bothered with headaches or migraines in the past. Studies have found that there is an increased risk of higher frequency headaches in the perimenopause, so this is a known fact.1

For some women, this can be something that they've just suddenly discovered as their hormones have started to change in the peri-menopause. They're finding that they're getting headaches much more often. For other women who have already experienced PMS-type headaches, they find that these headaches can increase.

And especially if your periods start to become much more frequent, then the headaches and the migraines tend to tie in with this scenario as well.

What can cause more headaches during menopause?

Hormonal changes

The main cause is falling oestrogen. This interferes with absolutely everything. You may find that as your hormones start to decrease towards a period, if you're still getting them, then you would get the headaches as you tend to get nearer and nearer your periods.

But for women whose periods have stopped, you can still get that bit of a hormonal cycle and you may find that you are still getting headaches at roughly the same time every month that you would have had your period. So, there's a very close link between falling oestrogen and getting these headaches and migraines.

Low magnesium

There can be other causes as well, and a major one is low magnesium. And for those of you who have been watching for a while, you know just how important enough magnesium is in menopause.

Low magnesium will cause stress headaches. You may find that as you get more anxious and if you start to worry more, again, these headaches will tend to increase.

For this, remember the magnesium and you do need quite a high dose, especially if you're getting regular migraines, too. So, you'd be looking at least 200 milligrams of magnesium twice a day, just to help to calm theese stress headaches down.

Hot flushes

A lot of women find they get headaches with flushes and this is all to do with the vasodilation and constriction of the blood vessels.

When you get a hot flush, your blood vessels will suddenly open up very quickly, but then, they very often tend to close quickly and when this spasming happens, especially if you're getting flushes up along the face, and the shoulders, and the neck, then the spasming of these blood vessels in the neck can then go on to trigger a headache.

So, if you're getting these types of headaches associated with flushes, if it's appropriate, you could certainly look at the herb sage to help to calm the flushes down.

Dehydration

It can be dehydration, so remember the water, loads and loads of water.

If you are getting dehydrated, again, that's going to affect the blood vessels and that can then trigger the headaches and the migraines, so plenty of water over and above what you would normally drink.

Food triggers

Also, be aware of what you're eating and drinking. Caffeine, high-salt and sugar foods, processed foods, fizzy drinks, and alcohol, can all be headache triggers too.

So, if you're not quite sure what's triggering the headaches, then do a little food and drink diary and you may that you tend to get the headaches at roughly the same time every day, and very often, there will be some kind of specific trigger for that particular one.

Low blood sugars

It can also be low blood sugars. If your blood sugars get too low, that can end up triggering a headache. So again, remember to eat little and often in this situation. Very often, that can help quite quickly.

When should you go and see the doctor about headaches or migraines?

If your headaches are really frequent, if they are prolonged, if you find that you're having to take lots of painkillers for these headaches, then this is the point when you need to go and see your doctor.

Not everything is associated with the menopause, so it's important to get this checked out. I know, at the moment, it may be difficult for you to get to go and see your doctor but even just phoning your doctor's practice and asking to speak to one of the practice nurses just for some advice would be a really good idea.

With migraines, again, it's the same thing. If they are becoming more frequent, if they are debilitating, and especially, if you find that you are starting to get an aura with a migraine which you have not had before, this can be due to other factors, and this does need some medical attention, so don't forget to ask.

I hope you found this one helpful. If any of you have any great tips on how you sorted out your headaches and migraines, we would love to hear about them, so please share them in the comment section below.

References

1. https://headachejournal.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/head.12763

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