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14th February 2023

Menopause and Migraines

What are migraines?

Migraines are severe and recurrent headaches which can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. They are often accompanied by other symptoms such as visual disturbances, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, irritability, fatigue and malaise.  

What how can menopause affect migraines?

From the early 40s, the menstrual cycle can become more erratic, with fluctuations in oestrogen levels, leading to more frequent migraines. As these fluctuations lessen in the run up to the menopause and beyond, some women may find that their migraine improves after the menopause. 

What are the options for migraine treatment during menopause?

Here are 7 possible treatments for migraine sufferers during the menopause.

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Some menopausal women may benefit from HRT, which can help stabilise hormonal fluctuations and reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. If you have migraines with aura (changes to your vision) it is often advised to use oestrogen which is delivered through the skin, as there is no increased risk of blood clots when it is given this way. Your doctor will be able to discuss and individualised treatment approach with you.  
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Lifestyle changes can play a crucial role in migraine management. This includes maintaining a regular sleep schedule, staying hydrated, managing stress, and avoiding trigger factors (for you) like certain foods, alcohol, and excessive caffeine. 
  • Medications: Your healthcare provider may recommend migraine-specific medications, such as triptans, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or preventive medications like beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, or antiepileptic drugs. The choice of medication depends on the frequency and severity of your migraines and of course, your preference.  
  • Complementary Therapies: Some women find relief through complementary therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic care, or herbal supplements. Be sure to consult with a healthcare professional before trying these approaches. 
  • Dietary Changes: Maintaining a healthy diet and identifying and avoiding trigger foods can be helpful. Common migraine triggers include aged cheeses, processed meats, and foods with artificial additives. Alcohol again can be a trigger for some.  
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. However, it’s essential to find an exercise routine that suits your individual needs and doesn’t trigger migraines. 
  • Tracking Migraines: Keeping a migraine diary can help identify patterns and triggers, which can inform your treatment plan. 
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