Symptoms of Menstrual Migraines and Some Natural Remedies

By Ashley Danielle
Edited by Avner Greenwald

Published September 22, 2021.

Symptoms of Menstrual Migraines and Some Natural Remedies main image

Menstrual migraines are sparked by the changes in hormones such as progesterone and estrogen that occur during a woman’s cycle. Some women's bodies are more sensitive to fluctuating hormone levels and will experience various menstrual-related pains such as migraines. Here we will be discussing some symptoms of menstrual migraines and point out natural remedies for treatment and pain management.

What Are the Symptoms of Menstrual Migraines?

A menstrual migraine can start before or during a woman's period and can happen every month.

Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • A dull throbbing or severe pulsing headache
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

If you believe you are experiencing a menstrual migraine but are unsure, it's worth keeping a diary for at least 3 menstrual cycles. This will help you discern whether your migraines are linked to your periods or not. If they are related, a diary can also help pinpoint what stage in your cycle you get a migraine. It is important to note that it is the degree of the hormone levels shift, not the change itself, that determines how severe the headaches will be.

How Do You Treat Menstrual Migraines?

There are many ways to treat your menstrual headaches with medications and without. The duration and treatment for menstrual migraines depend on the severity of the headache. Your symptoms may last for a few hours, but they'll likely last days.

Vitamin B-2, Coenzyme Q10, and Magnesium Supplements

There are other vitamins reported to treat migraine headaches. According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamins like vitamin B-2 and coenzyme Q10 may reduce the severity of migraine attacks. Further research has shown that taking daily magnesium supplements can be effective at preventing menstrual-related migraines. Magnesium oxide is most frequently used for this purpose.

Home Remedies to Naturally Get Rid of Headaches

Snack Frequently

There are other natural ways to treat your menstrual headache without the help of hormones or supplements. Eating small and frequent snacks will keep your blood sugar levels up. Low blood sugar levels caused by missing meals or going too long without food can trigger attacks.

Avoid Stress

Stress has been proven to trigger migraine attacks. If this proves difficult, find ways to deal with stress, such as taking regular exercise and using relaxation strategies. Exercises like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can relax your muscles, reduce tension, and also improve headache symptoms.

Less muscle tension and stress may reduce the severity of your headaches. Too little sleep is also known to make headaches worse. Try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Preventing Hormonal Headaches

Take a Steady Dose of Estrogen

There are ways to prevent the attacks from happening. A noticeable dip in your estrogen levels will occur before your period, and this 'dip' is thought to trigger menstrual migraines. You can prevent this by taking a steady dose of estrogen throughout your menstrual cycle. If you're already on a hormonal birth control pill, switch to a continuous dose, there are also estrogen patches and gels you can use to stabilize estrogen levels.

Utilize Iron Supplements

While a decline in estrogen levels is believed to cause migraines right before or during the early days of a woman's period, Iron deficiency (anemia) has been proposed to be a potential trigger of migraines that occur during the last few days of a woman's period. Taking iron supplements may help prevent these late-onset menstrual migraines.

Can Medications Make Menstrual Migraines Worse?

Keeping track of the onset, duration, and severity of your migraines can help you pick a path for treatment.

Research does not show that pain medication used for period cramps and other PMS symptoms will help menstrual migraines. This is because period cramps and PMS are caused by different hormones. So it is possible that taking these types of medications will have little or no effect on your menstrual migraines.

Every woman is different, and each migraine can have a different root cause. You need to know your migraine to be able to choose the right medication. The right medications can help you prevent and treat your pain. But natural remedies also have amazing effects and have been shown to be effective at treating migraine headaches.