Perimenopause and headaches: What's the Connection?
Hormonal changes that occur during perimenopause, particularly the decline of estrogen may be the main reason for headaches during this time period.
The decline in estrogen levels is also associated with a decline in serotonin (a neurotransmitter) in the brain, which may hinder the function of a cranial nerve called the trigeminal nerve. This cascade of events may be responsible for triggering headaches or migraines. Hormonal fluctuations may be the main culprit if a woman experiences more frequent headaches or migraines during perimenopause.
5 Common Headache Triggers during perimenopause
Declining hormone levels may lead to various symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes, heavier periods and mood swings which can lead to additional health issues that may then trigger headaches.
- Dehydration. Our bodies requires the proper balance of fluid and electrolytes in order to function properly. Fluids are lost during everyday activities such as sweating and urination. This loss is easily replenished by drinking or eating foods rich in fluids. But sometimes the body loses water quickly and this can lead to dehydration.
A dehydration headache may then result. The brain may contract or temporarily shrink due to the lack of fluids. This process causes the brain to move away from the skull which causes discomfort and a dehydration headache. Once rehydrated, the brain expands to its normal size and returns to its normal position, relieving the headache.
- Hot Flashes. Can cause a sudden sensation or wave of heat in the body. During a hot flash, a woman's heart rate increases, intensifying the sensation of heat. Fluctuating levels of estrogen can affect the blood vessels, resulting in sudden changes in vessel dilation that may trigger hot flashes.
Many women complain about experiencing a headache after they get a hot flash. This is because the blood vessels open suddenly due to the heat which triggers spasms.
- Anxiety & Stress. Most of us get tension headaches when we are stressed or worried about something. Perimenopause can cause symptoms that may lead to anxiety and stress. Headaches that accompany stress or anxiety are a result of a physical response to the emotional strain a woman may experience at that time.
- Poor Posture. The position in which you sit at the office, hold your phone, the way you type on your computer, all these factors and many other everyday activities if not performed correctly, can result in headaches. One common reason for headaches is muscle tension and tightness. Poor posture tightens the muscles as they struggle to adapt to the pressure being put on them.
- Diet. Many studies indicate that certain foods and drinks may trigger headaches. Alcoholic beverages, processed meats and aged cheeses are some of the commonly reported foods that may trigger headaches. Caffeine withdrawal or limiting caffeine, fasting and certain nutrient deficiencies may also lead to headaches. Low calorie dieting can also result in headaches.
How to Prevent Headaches during Perimenopause?
The good news is that there are many ways to manage perimenopause related headaches. Adapting the following lifestyle changes, remedies and dietary changes can help manage, prevent and in some cases stop headaches from taking a hold on a woman's life:
- Keep a lifestyle diary. This is an excellent way to determine what your headache triggers may be. Write down what you ate in the hours before a headache takes hold. This may help you find dietary patterns over time. If a pattern arises, limiting that food is a wise decision. Then you can assess whether cutting that particular food out of your diet makes a difference in their frequency and intensity.
- Exercise. Regular physical activity may also help to prevent headaches. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day or at least 3 to 4 times a week. Spinning classes, a long walk or going for a swim are great exercise options.
- Behavioural Therapy. Biofeedback and relaxation therapies are two types of behavioural therapies known to help some women deal with severe headaches. Various techniques and methods are used to control how your body responds to anxiety, muscle tension, and even pain.
- Supplements. Certain nutritional supplements have shown some success in limiting the frequency of headaches. Vitamin B-2, Vitamin D, coenzyme Q10 and magnesium are the top choices to prevent a headache.
- Plant based remedies that can help.
Soy Isoflavones. A.Vogel's Menosupport Complex Is a helpful addition for a woman experiencing headaches during this time. This remedy contains soy isoflavones which provide plant-based estrogens. They help a perimenopausal woman adjust to the declining levels of estrogen during perimenopause. As headaches may be caused by a decline in estrogen, this remedy can help. The magnesium in the formula may also help with tension headaches and with stress relief and relaxation.
Oatstraw tincture. A.Vogel's Avenaforce is an outstanding herbal remedy that may be used on a long-term basis by women to ease their menopausal symptoms especially in cases where they are anxiety related. It helps to combat the effects of stress and helps to nourish a weakened nervous system. Avenaforce is a nourishing and supportive remedy for this period in a woman's life.
A.Vogel's Passion flower Tincture. Passion flower is a plant which has been studied for its ability to help ease menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, depression, mood swings and headaches.
For women who experience headaches during perimenopause, avoiding these 5 triggers can help to provide relief and prevent further headaches from taking hold. Fortunately, headaches can be managed by natural and lifestyle remedies.