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Menstrual Migraine Headaches

Migraines and Your Period

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Updated June 14, 2014

girl holding head in pain. red hair. blue blouse.
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Do you have migraine headaches that occur just before or after you period starts? If so, you may have menstrually related migraines (MRM). MRM includes two types of migraine headaches:

  • Premenstrual migraines occur between one and seven days before menstruation begins.
  • Menstrual migraines occur from the last day before your period begins up until four days after bleeding begins. True menstrual migraines do not occur on any other days of the month. About 14% of menstruating women experience true menstrual migraines.

A diagnosis of MRM is appropriate when migraines occur between two days before menstruation and two days after menstruation begins.

See: What is a Migraine Headache?

If you don’t already have a menstrual cycle calendar, now is a good time to start one. Keeping track of when you have headaches can help your doctor determine what type of headache you may have, including whether you have menstrually related migraines.

See: How to Track Your Menstrual Cycle

Women who have menstrually related migraines, often also experience dysmenorrhea. Other symptoms of PMS including mood swings, backaches, nausea, breast tenderness and swelling also occur frequently in women who experience dysmenorrhea.

The treatments for MRM are the same as for non-menstrually related migraine headaches, including self-help measures such as aspirin, acetaminophen, naproxen, or other NSAIDS, with or without caffeine and resting in a cool, dark, and quiet room. Your physician may prescribe other treatments for menstrual migraines, including hormonal treatments and preventive medications.

See: Why Women Have More Migraines: The Role of Hormones

Sources:

Diamond, Merle, MD; Menstrual Migraine and Menstrually Related Migraine (MRM); National Guideline Clearinghouse; http://www.guidelines.gov/summary/summary.aspx?doc_id=6587&nbr=004147; accessed 02/07/08.

Migraine Headache; Women’s Health.gov; http://womenshealth.gov/faq/migraine.htm; accessed 02/07/08.

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