Women Almost Expect Hormone Headaches
What woman hasn’t suffered from a few (or many) pre-menstrual headaches?
For some, the pain responds to common over-the-counter medicine. Of course, aspirin can lead to stomach irritation and even ulcers. And ibuprofen will increase the chance of heart attack and stroke. Nevertheless, used occasionally, they can be pretty safe and very helpful.
For other women, however, monthly hormone headaches are off-the-chart painful. In fact, menstrual migraines may affect up to half of American women. And with a migraine, even everyday activities become difficult or impossible.
Finally, many women experience hormone headaches during menopause or pregnancy, while breastfeeding or using pill control pills.
The Causes of Hormone Headaches
Menstrual headaches occur when the levels of two female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) change.
The current theory is that estrogen and progesterone affect blood vessels in the brain. Put in simple terms, estrogen makes the blood vessels open wider while progesterone makes them tighten. When hormones shift throughout the menstrual cycle – and when they chnage more wildly during menopause – those blood vessels are forced to expand and contract too fast. And the result is headache.
Men Can Get Hormone Headaches, Too
For men, the hormone involved in headache pain is testosterone. In fact, diminished testosterone can cause various kinds of headaches in men, from tension headache to migraines and even cluster headaches. Just as more women begin to get headaches (and experience them with greater intensity) around menopause, more men get headaches (and experience worse headaches) before, during and after andropause (the word for male menopause). That’s because around that time, their testosterone level drops significantly.
Common Medical Treatments
When non-prescription drugs fail to help, doctors sometimes recommend stronger medication for headache pain. Some must be taken daily. Others are used only around the time in a woman’s cycle when she’s most likely to get a headache. These medications include beta blockers and anticonvulsants.
Today, some experts think that hormone headaches may be triggered by a brain chemical called serotonin. When serotonin levels dip too low, the result can be depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and – you guessed it – headache. So sometimes doctors will recommend an antidepressant, just to prevent hormone headaches.
7 Natural Hormone Headache Remedies
If you’re interested in natural remedies for hormone headache, there are a growing number to choose from. Interested in any of these?
Evening Primrose Oil is a natural pain killer with powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Many women find that it helps relieve hormone headache.
FeverFew is another popular headache remedy, for both women and men. The herb can be found in better health food stores, usually in capsule form. Warning: it is not safe for pregnant women.
A 5-HTP dietary supplement may be helpful, too. Studies show that it can boost serotonin levels and, as a result, reduce headache pain. Look for “pure 5-HTP” or “griffonia simplicifolia extract” on the label. Never use the supplement for longer than 12 weeks. And definitely check with your doctor before starting because it can be dangerous to some people.
Headache ReLeaf Roll-On is a great herbal headache remedy. It blends organic menthol with 3 pure essential oils (lavender, peppermint and rose). It offers soothing relief without upsetting your stomach. Rely on it for fast and effective aromatherapy relief.
Magnesium levels definitely drop as women approach their period. The result may be that nerves get too agitated. And headache begins. Some doctors recommend a magnesium supplement to prevent that harmful nerve activity and tension.
Vitamin B (or B complex) are also great natural hormone headache remedies. Scientists think that’s because B2 can restores energy to nerve cells without exciting them.
Acupuncture has been useful in alleviating hormone headaches. If you know you are prone to get them, make an appointment with an acupuncture specialist before your period begins.