Women approaching menopause experience worsened migraines according to the latest findings. Vincent Martin, MD, lead researcher, said, “Women have been telling doctors that their migraine headaches worsen around menopause and now we have proof they were right.”
High frequency headaches – more than 10 days with headaches month – increased in women by 60 percent during premenopause in comparison with normal cycling women.
The researchers examined 3,664 women who experienced migraines prior to menopause and during menopause.
Researcher Richard Lipton added, “Changes in female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone that occur during the perimenopause might trigger increased headaches during this time.”
Migraine headache frequency also increased during menopause by 76 percent but the researchers do not believe this is associated with fluctuating hormones but rather an overuse of medications.
Martin added, “Women as they get older develop lots of aches and pains, joints and back pain and it is possible their overuse of pain medications for headache and other conditions might actually drive an increase in headaches for the menopause group.”
Women are three times more likely o experience migraines compared to men and roughly 12 percent of the American population suffers from them.
Co-author Jelena Pavlovic concluded, “Physicians can prescribe hormonal therapies that level out these changes that occur during the perimenopause and menopause time periods. If the patient is in early perimenopause, you can give birth control pills that level things out. If they are in the late perimenopause and they start skipping periods, they can be put on estrogen patches.”