Hormones and Headaches in Women

Headaches have become a common issue for women all over the world. More often than it is realized, these headaches are brought on by hormonal changes, whether it be during menstruation, pregnancy or menopause.

Unfortunately, ‘hormonal headaches’ are suffered by some women every month, as their monthly cycle is sometimes the only cause for them to suffer with a headache.

This is the major reason why women are known to suffer with headaches more than men. They have more hormonal changes taking place, and on a regular basis.

What Causes Hormonal Headaches?

A woman’s body is very complex and it utilizes a range of hormones to keep everything functioning in a healthy manner. These hormones are incredibly powerful in even tiny amounts. They work invisibly in the background, triggering brain and body functions to automatically maintain the whole system; month in, month out.

However, there are times, often regular, when either these naturally occurring hormones, or hormones introduced into the body, can trigger unwanted responses, including pain such as headache. This is further compounded by our modern lifestyle, with all its stress-related hormonal triggers.

  1. Menstruation or Pregnancy

Hormonal headaches can occur when the body releases the hormones necessary for regulating the menstrual cycle, or as a woman’s body goes through all the changes required for carrying a child and preparing for birth and lactation.

  1. Contraceptive Pills

Many women who do not want to fall pregnant take contraceptive pills, which introduce hormones into the body and affect the natural balance.

All the processes that are involved in either preparing for or preventing a pregnancy affects the normal functioning of hormones in the body. No hormonal response occurs in isolation and the effects can be manifold. Unfortunately, one of these effects is often headache.

Menopause and HRT

Women who are in the menopausal stage of their life are also prone to suffer from the same type of headache pain. Once the hormones responsible for menstruation become depleted, some women try to replace them through the process known as “hormone replacement therapy” or HRT.

HRT often causes a hormonal imbalance within the body and this can cause a headache to occur.

Is It a Hormonal Headache or Migraine?

Many types of headaches women are afflicted with are caused by the fluctuations in their levels of estrogen and progesterone. When a woman undergoes a normal cycle, her levels of estrogen decrease, and so too does her serotonin levels, which can result in a hormonal headache.

Many experts believe that there is also a connection between serotonin, estrogen, and migraine headache pain. Normally, serotonin levels in women are high but reduced levels correlate to increased incidence of migraine.

An intense hormonal headache that some women experience is called a menstrual migraine, which usually occurs two days before the menstruation period begins and will ease away within three days of menstruation.

Studies reveal that almost 60% of women experience headaches before, during or after their menstruation periods. So, if a woman says she has a headache…she probably does!