Period Symptoms: 5 Tips to Relieve Migraines
Posted byAlicia Trent
Dealing with pesky period symptoms is not easy. Cramping and bloating can often leave you feeling achy, grouchy and exhausted. Even more challenging are the pounding headaches that frequently accompany a menstrual cycle. More than 60 percent of women who suffer from migraines report an association between migraines and their period, according to a study in The Journal of Headache and Pain.1 Menstrual migraines are usually driven by a drop in estrogen levels just before your period starts, notes the American Headache Society (AHS).2
Luckily, there are a range of remedies that may help alleviate migraines. Follow these five tips to tame those throbbing menstrual headaches.
1. Ice Ice Baby
A short trip to the freezer may prompt relief from period symptoms. The Mayo Clinic suggests holding an ice pack to the area on your head or neck causing you the most pain.3 A cold compress constricts blood vessels, and the shrunken vessels stop pressing on the sensitive nerves, which may lessen headache pain.4 Remember to wrap the ice pack in a towel and do not hold the pack to your skin for longer than 30 minutes to avoid ice burn.5
2. Relax to the Max
Relaxation techniques may help decrease migraine symptoms, by decreasing pain and preventing headaches from getting worse. The Cleveland Clinic recommends soothing headaches by finding a quiet place free of distractions to practice deep or rhythmic breathing.6 First, calm your breathing by taking slow, calculated breaths. Count slowly to five while inhaling and then count again to five as you exhale. Pay attention to how your body relaxes.
Other relaxation strategies for migraines include massage therapy and yoga. Getting a professional massage (or asking a friend for a little massage love) can relieve pain and ease muscle discomfort, ultimately reducing migraine pain. Yoga meanwhile, focuses on physical relaxation through breathing, meditation and stretching. Try different relaxation techniques to find the one that works best for you.
3. Counter With Over-the-Counter
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen or ibuprofen, may be just the trick to knock those migraines off the map. These drugs can help relieve menstrual migraines shortly after they attack.2 Check with your doctor if your migraines continue.
4. Hone in on Hormones
Regulating your body’s hormones is another strategy to combating menstrual migraines. For example, the American Headache Society (AHS) suggests using an estrogen supplement in the form of a pill, gel or patch during your period week to curb the natural drop in estrogen that could be causing head pain. According to the AHS, this approach works better with predictable period cycles. Alternatively, birth control pills can help control period symptoms, such as migraines, by allowing more control over your flow. Dosing birth control pills so there is no break for the menstrual cycle can reduce headaches. Same goes for a vaginal ring. Insert a new ring immediately after the old one is removed, rather than waiting until the end of your period week. Talk to your doc about which method is best for you.2
5. Pen About Your Pain
If you’re unsure when to expect your menstrual migraines, it helps to keep a headache diary.2 Jot down the date and time that period symptoms, like migraines, strike and monitor how far into your menstrual cycle they happen. When is the pain worse? How long does it usually last? Record keeping can help track when migraines are likely to hit so that you can take preventative steps.
Remember, every woman’s body is unique. Likewise, the best solution to curbing migraine pain depends on an individual’s cycle.
1“Burden of migraine related to menses: results from the AMPP study.” The Journal of Headache and Pain 16, no. 24 (March 18, 2015). Accessed January 4, 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4406925/.
2“Headache Toolbox – Menstrual Migraine.” The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 2013. https://americanheadachesociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Menstrual-Migraine-Feb-2014.pdf.
3“Headaches and hormones: What’s the connection?” Mayo Clinic. October 13, 2015. Accessed January 04, 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-daily-headaches/in-depth/headaches/art-20046729.
4“Natural Remedies to Relieve Headache Pain.” Best Health Magazine Canada. August 19, 2016. Accessed January 31, 2017. http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/home-remedies/natural-home-remedies-headaches/.
5“Should You Ice or Heat an injury?” Southern California Orthopedic Institute. Accessed January 31, 2017. https://www.scoi.com/patient-resources/health-articles/should-you-ice-or-heat-injury.
6“Relaxation Techniques for Headaches.” Cleveland Clinic. December 28, 2012. Accessed January 04, 2017. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/relaxation-and-other-alternative-approaches-for-managing-headaches.
- Posted by Alicia Trent
- On March 17, 2017