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Migraine attacks don’t care if you have a dinner date, kids at home, or a big project due. They can strike at any time and sideline your plans for hours or even days. Sound familiar? Well, if you’ve experienced this type of life-disrupting migraine pain, then, statistically, you’re more likely to be a woman.
A women’s health issue
Migraine is a medical condition that can cause debilitating headaches, often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. About one in seven people suffers from migraine headaches, and, according to the Migraine Research Foundation, they’re three times more common in women than men.
Unsure if your headaches are actually migraines? Take a short quiz with Cove to learn more.
Research is revealing that hormones — specifically estrogen — seem to play a role in this headache disparity. Major hormonal shifts such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can all cause changes in the frequency and severity of migraine symptoms over a lifetime. There’s even a specific type of migraine, known as menstrual migraine, that’s triggered by the drop in estrogen that occurs with your period.
To be clear, not all migraine attacks are hormone-related. The truth is that scientists aren’t entirely sure what causes them, though genetics definitely plays a role. What we do know is that 85% of adult chronic migraine sufferers are women. And tellingly, before puberty, boys are actually more likely to have migraine headaches than girls, but after the hormonal shifts that accompany puberty, the situation dramatically reverses.
If your migraine attacks occur during the days just before or after your period in two out of three cycles, they might be menstrual migraines. Keep in mind that it’s possible to experience more than one migraine type. Many women who get menstrual migraines also have headaches at other times too.
What about birth control?
Unfortunately, while estrogen fluctuations are a likely migraine cause, taking estrogen doesn’t appear to be the solution. Birth control pills prevent the dip in estrogen before each period, but using them to treat migraine has mixed results. According to the Mayo Clinic, hormonal birth control can prevent migraine for some women but trigger it for others. So if you’re currently taking birth control and you suspect you’re experiencing menstrual migraines, it’s a good idea to bring it up with your healthcare provider.
Pregnancy and migraine
Some women suffering from menstrual migraines might worry about another major hormonal change: pregnancy. The good news is that, according to migraine expert and Cove Medical Director Dr. Sara Crystal, many women who get menstrual migraines actually see an improvement in their symptoms while pregnant.
That being said, it’s important to work with your healthcare providers to create a plan for potential migraine attacks during pregnancy. You may need to stop taking certain medications, and with so many physical changes occurring, new triggers — like inadequate sleep — could come up.
Living with frequent migraine attacks is not only incredibly tough, it can also mean missing out on important moments. There are over-the-counter pain relief medications that can help, but they aren’t always enough. And some promising home remedies, like cold packs or caffeine, work well for certain migraine sufferers but not others.
If you’re looking for a better way to treat your migraine symptoms, Cove can help. Their online migraine clinic can put you on the path toward better days — from the comfort of your home. You’ll get access to doctors who specialize in migraine and affordable treatment plans, with delivery right to your doorstep. Plus, they’ll provide ongoing support as you and your doctor determine what works for you.
Get started with Cove today and receive 50% off your first month. You don’t have to suffer through migraine pain on your own — support is just a tap away.
“Migraine is a women’s health issue.” Migraine Research Foundation. Migraine Research Foundation. 2021. https://migraineresearchfoundation.org/about-migraine/migraine-in-women/
“Facts about migraine.” National Headache Foundation. National Headache Foundation. 2021.https://headaches.org/2005/08/12/facts-about-migraine/
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Headaches and hormones: What’s the connection?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. December 10, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-daily-headaches/in-depth/headaches/art-20046729
“Migraine facts.” Migraine Research Foundation. Migraine Research Foundation. 2021. https://migraineresearchfoundation.org/about-migraine/migraine-facts/