Hormonal Headaches Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
General, Women

Hormonal Headaches – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Our body is a complex system made up of lots of integrated and complex mechanisms and processes. One of the central parts of the body which in a way controls the entire body is our head, essentially the brain. However, the brain functions regulate and at times get regulated by several other factors in the body. One such important factor is hormones. While the brain regulates the formation of such hormones, can such hormones cause headaches?

What Is A Hormonal Headache?

A headache is a normal and a common problem. Such headaches can either be caused due to genetic issues or due to dietary problems. However, in females, there is a third cause of headaches – fluctuating level of hormones causing chronic headaches. At times, the females can also experience headaches during there menstruation. Such headaches are referred to as Menstrual Migraines.

Hormonal imbalances cause headaches and such headaches are referred to as Hormonal Headaches. Some of the situations where a female can experience a hormonal headache include

  • During the menstrual cycle
  • Pregnancy
  • During menopause
  • After consuming oral contraceptives
  • After undergoing hormone replacement therapies

Hormonal Headaches Symptoms

Usually, Hormonal headaches are quite similar to regular migraines. Thus migraines can be a good symptom to get the hormone levels checked. However, some females also complain of some other symptoms. Thus, in case somebody complains of one or more of the following symptoms, she should be advised for a medical check-up.

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Acne
  • Joint Pain
  • The decreasee in urination both in volume and frequency
  • Constipation
  • Lack of coordination
  • Craving for salt, chocolate, or alcohol

Hormonal Headaches Causes

Hormonal headaches are usually linked to the female hormone estrogen. Lowering levels of estrogen in the body can trigger hormonal headaches. Some of the causes which can lower the levels of estrogen in the body of a female include

  • Menstrual cycle – During menstruation, level of two female hormones estrogen and progesterone are the lowest. This can trigger hormonal headaches.
  • Pregnancy – Though pregnancy is a stage when estrogen levels increase in a female’s body, some women may experience hormonal headaches during the first trimester. However, such headaches should not be occurring in the later stages. A word of caution here would be that post pregnancy, the levels of estrogen fall sharply.
  • Menopause – Hormonal headaches in perimenopause years (years leading to menopause) is a common occurrence because of fluctuating estrogen levels in the body. However, most women experiencing such migraines report that such symptoms improve upon reaching menopause. In some cases, this problem of migraines might deteriorate because of the use of hormone replacement therapies.
  • Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy or Oral Contraceptives – Both these measures can either increase or decrease the levels of estrogen in the body of the female. Thus women suffering from hormonal headaches might suffer from the attack in the last week of the cycle when the oral contraceptive pills do not contain hormones.
  • Consumption of Foods such as
    • Mono Sodium Glutamate based Products
    • Alcoholic beverages especially red wine
    • Aged Cheese
    • Soy Products
    • Processed Meat
    • Smoked Fish
    • Hard Sausages
    • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Genetic Factors also contribute towards chronic issues of migraines
  • Lack or excess of sleep
  • Meal skipping or fasting for too long
  • Exposure to intense smell, light, or sound
  • Severe changes in the weather
  • Caffeine withdrawal or consumption of too much caffeine
  • Stress

Where Are Hormonal Headaches Located?

Hormonal headaches resemble the normal migraine pain. Just like the migraine pains, hormonal headaches would usually have a throbbing pain starting on one side of the head and would usually have a sensitivity to light. Such hormonal migraines might not always be preceded by an aura. Occasionally such headaches can also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

How To Get Rid of Hormonal Headaches?

Just like migraines, hormonal headaches too can be cured or at least relief is expected if the treatment is started at the earliest. Some of the methods which can be used to get relief include

  • Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Massaging the area where the pain is felt
  • Using essential oils such as Peppermint oil, Lavender oil, Eucalyptus oil, and Rosemary oil for relieving hormonal headaches
  • Lying down and relaxing as much as possible
  • Perform relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and Acupuncture
  • Placing an ice bag or cold cloth on the head
  • Taking magnesium supplements reduce the intensity of the headache
  • Reducing Stress
  • Taking medications such as over-the-counter Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Medications (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and migraine specific medications such as Triptans which can reduce the intensity of a migraine attack

Hormonal Headaches need to be treated soon and if possible by using natural homemade remedies since too much of medication or hormone therapies can create other serious issues.

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad