Fluctuating hormone levels can contribute towards increased headaches and migraines around perimenopause and menopause. If you suffered from hormonal headaches during your fertile years you are at a higher risk of head pain now. But in postmenopause, hormonal headaches may go away altogether as the hormones are lower in general and not fluctuating.
What you probably know is that headaches and migraines are multi-factorial. Yours may be hormone-related but other factors may also contribute to the degree and frequency. It's worth keeping a headache diary and looking at the frequency and timing to help determine what other factors play a role in your discomfort.
Consider these factors:
Dehydration – this is a common cause of headaches. It’s easy to be busy and forget to drink enough water. You need to drink at least 2L of water daily, more with exercise.
Lack of sleep – Sleep deprivation can cause many issues and headaches in amongst them. You need 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. It not just getting enough sleep that matters, it’s also the quality and quantity. I know for myself I sometimes get headaches if my sleep was disturbed during the night.
Sinus issues – Sinus congestion and infections are big contributors to headaches. If this is you, it’s best to work on improving your sinus health. Start with looking at your diet. Are you eating lots of mucus-forming foods such as dairy? Have you tried neti pods (a traditional Ayurvedic sinus rinsing technique)? Do you need extra probiotics? Those good friendly bacteria live in all mucous membranes and help reduce/fight infection. Then consider whether you need herbal help. There are so many herbs that help improve the health of your sinuses: Eyebright being one of my favourites.
Eye issues – When was your last eye checkup? It may be time for glasses or even different lens. Some people find sunlight exposure headache forming – have you been wearing sunglasses or not? For others, it can be that they have been working too hard and focusing on one point such as a computer screen for too long. Think of this as an extreme workout for your eyes. You would stretch your leg muscles out after a run, are you stretching out your eye muscles after a day working? To do this, sit down and look up as far up as you can and hold your eyes there for the count of 20, then move your line of vision to be 45 degrees to the right, then hold and count, next move to as far right as you can, hold and count. Can you feel that stretch? Carry on another 45 degrees, downwards, hold and count. Then look down hold and stretch. Now repeat everything on the left. If your job involves a lot of looking at screens you should try to repeat this roughly 3 times a day.
Ear issues, such as constant ringing from tinnitus would surely give you a headache.
Infections/fever – Infections of any kind can cause headaches, but this tends to be a one-off headache and not a recurring headache. If your headache and temperature are extreme and you have a stiff neck, might be best to head to the hospital and rule out meningitis.
Teeth or Jaw issues – clenching or grinding teeth, misaligned bite, dental abscesses etc. Did you know you swallow over 2000 times a day, every day! Therefore it’s not surprising when people with misaligned bites get regular headaches, those poor overworked muscles are being pulled in unnatural ways too many times a day. If you think this could be you, a dentist or chiropractor may be able to help you further.
Neck/shoulder tension – the good old tension headache. Often described as a band-like sensation around your head that can be mild to moderate in intensity. This is the most common kind. Supplemental magnesium is my go to for these. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant. Or a massage! I love massages… Can’t forget acupuncture, acupuncture almost immediately removes tension headaches. You also need to address several lifestyle factors such as posture, stress levels etc.
Stress - yes stress can trigger a tension like a headache or a migraine. Again magnesium is the best option here, along with stress reduction techniques such as exercise, massage, and meditation.
Ponytail or other headwear that is too tight – yeap, this was me as a child; I had such long and thick hair that I had headaches almost every day after school. If you know me, you’ll notice to this day I don’t wear my hair up in fear of the dreaded ponytail headache. Luckily removing the hair tie, helmet, cap or other headwear often relieves this type of headache.
Food-related headaches – food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities can trigger both instant and delayed headaches. Alcohol even falls into this category some people get an instant headache from the preservatives in red wine, others can get a delayed headache or a hangover the next day. Caffeine withdrawal is possibly the most common food-related headache. Blood sugar imbalances are also up there as a top contender. Caffeine withdrawal headaches are usually located behind the eyes or frontally located, blood sugar headaches (can be high or low sugar) are usually located at the base of your skull.
Environmental factors - chemical sensitivities can contribute to headaches, fatigue and brain fog amongst other symptoms. Could you be reacting to mould, perfumes, or other chemicals from your environment? Electromagnetic radiation, WIFI, and other invisible factors may also be contributing.
Weather-related Barometric changes - as the pressure outside drops, it creates an increase in pressure inside your sinuses and this can cause headaches and migraines.
Brain pathology, depending on your pattern and severity of pain your doctor may choose to send you for a brain MRI to rule out pathological causes.
In general, most headaches/migraines improve with these supplements:
If you are still suffering once you have addressed the above causes the most likely reason is hormonal imbalances.
Here are a few supplements to help reduce hormonal headaches or migraines. These suggestions help regulate estrogen levels and have been found to help reduce hormonal headaches and migraines.