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Menopause and your migraines
Two thirds of women's migraines improve within a couple of years after menopause while 10 percent experience worse headaches. Approximately 25 percent notice no change at all. Hormone replacement therapy is now being selectively offered to women for severe, debilitating hot flashes but because of migraine sufferers' variable reaction to hormones, there's no way of knowing who will respond positively or poorly to menopausal hormonal supplementation.
Can birth control help relieve migraine pain?
Some women who use an oral contraceptive do find relief, though most women don't notice a change. Some oral contraceptive users will find an increase in migraine attacks during the placebo week of the 30-day pack. Women who have migraines with aura seem to increase their risk of having a stroke if they take an oral contraceptive.
It will be obvious when you start an oral contraceptive whether or not it helps, makes things worse or has little impact. It's important to talk to your doctor beforehand and to start out with the lowest effective dose of estrogen. Progesterone does not seem to factor into the migraine discussion.
Remember the goal of treatment is to reduce the number of attacks and the severity of symptoms. You'll then want to determine the appropriate medications that will immediately avert an attack. There is currently no cure for migraines but researchers are continuing to explore the mechanisms that cause migraines, new therapies and prevention strategies.
Reviewed by Vikas Garg, M.D., MSA