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  • Michael Frey, MD

Menstrual Migraines

​​It's “that” time of the month … and your head is throbbing! Chances are it's a menstrual migraine.

Menstrual migraines typically begin one to two days before a period, when estrogen levels start to drop. They can last through the first few days of the period until these levels rise. Other times they occur during or just after your cycle is done.

Menstrual Migraine Symptoms

Throbbing pain

Flashes of light

Sound sensitivity

Light sensitivity

Smell sensitivity



Remedies for Hormonal Headaches

1. Feverfew

This little herb has been shown to prevent menstrual migraines. This is a great anti-inflammatory herb. Bluebonnet makes an excellent supplement.

2. Magnesium

This mineral has been shown to prevent headaches. Among the best remedies for headaches, it acts as a muscle relaxant. Most women often need more magnesium than their diet can provide, but diet is still the best starting place. The typical dose of magnesium is 600 mg daily. BioEmblem is a quality supplement.

3. Caffeine

This may seem counterintuitive, but in a pinch, you can lean on a cup of coffee or caffeinated tea to help provide hormonal migraine relief. Caffeine can constrict blood vessels and increase your mood.

4. Ibuprofen

A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like Advil or Motrin is sometimes all you need to treat a menstrual migraine. Along with your migraine symptoms, these drugs can also relieve period cramps.

5. Triptans

These drugs block pain signals in your brain. If your period comes every month like clockwork, you can start these drugs a few days before your bleeding starts and continue for up to a week. This often prevents the migraine from coming on.

6. Contraception

If you have irregular periods or need contraception, there are a range of contraceptives that may help with your menstrual migraine. If you take the combined pill and have a migraine during the pill-free week you can take the pill without a break to help manage the menstrual migraine. In migraine with aura, it is best to take progestogen-only pills.

7. Estrogen

Some women find topping off their estrogen levels before and during their period can help with menstrual migraine. Estrogen can be taken as skin patches or gel. This is most likely to be effective when your periods are regular and you can top up the estrogen for seven days, starting 3 days before your period. You should not use estrogen supplements if you think you are pregnant or you are trying to get pregnant.

8. Acupuncture

Acupuncture likely won’t alleviate your pain completely, but research shows that it can significantly reduce the pain and frequency of hormonal migraines.

9. Hydration

Obvious, but for reals, if you’re dehydrated and prone to headaches then odds are one is brewing. Dehydration is a common cause of headaches. Hydrate, aim for about 3 liters of water, bone broth, or mineral water daily.

10. Massage

One of the most natural ways to get rid of a headache, it’ll not only soothe your stress, but it will also allow your nervous system to take some much-needed R & R while your muscles get a good release.

11. Ice Hat

Donning an ice hat reduces inflammation, constricts blood vessels, and slows your nerves from firing pain signals. Ice hats are excellent for many types of headaches, including migraines, and can provide instant migraine relief at home. I suggest TheraICE Rx Form Fitting Gel Ice Hats.


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