Women and Migraine- Is it a Woman’s Disease?

Migraine is a women’s disease!

Have you ever heard this myth from a doctor, relative or friend? It’s a common myth but the fact is that migraines do affect more women than men. Surprisingly three times as many women suffer from migraines than men! Statistics say that 28 million women in the US have migraines and 85% of people with chronic migraine are women. In fact 1 in 4 women will experience migraine in their life!

Why are women affected more than men?

One reason is likely due to the changes in hormones that women experience every month. In fact, studies have shown that before puberty, boys actually have more migraines than girls but after puberty the severity and occurrence of migraines rises in girls.

Women who have hormonal migraines typically have one of four types of migraine.

  • Predictable hormonal migraine
  • Migraine during pregnancy
  • Postpartum migraines
  • Peri-menopause migraines

I recently watched an interview with Dr. Susan Hutchinson, a migraine specialist who focuses on women’s health. Dr. Susan Hutchinson is the author of  The Woman’s Guide to Managing Migraine: Understanding the Hormone Connection to find Hope and Wellness. If you have migraines that are hormone related, I’d definitely check out her book. She discussed these four different types of headache. Let’s discuss the different headaches types and some possible treatment options discussed in her interview.

Predictable menstrual headache
These types of migraines usually are predictable and occur either before, during or after the menstrual cycle. This generally occurs because just before a woman’s cycle there is a drop in estrogen and this can cause a migraine.

How do you know if you have this type of headache?
One way is to keep a headache diary. If you have a headache 2 out of 3 times around your menstrual cycle, you can say that you have these type of headaches.


  • Continuous low-dose birth control
  • IUD (intrauterine device)
  • Take an anti-inflammatory several days before your cycle until end of your cycle Advil Liquigels, 200 Miligrams, 240 Count 200mg
  • Take magnesium daily 400mg/day NOW Magnesium 400mg,180 Capsules
  • If you take triptans, start taking them one or two days before your cycle starts and continue until the end of your cycle
  • If you take a preventative, like Topamax, increase the dose during your cycle (consult your doctor regarding dosage)

Migraines during pregnancy
For many women, migraine may go away during pregnancy and this can be a real relief. However for a few this is not the case. In fact, there are some women who may experience an increase in migraines during this time. Since there are limitations on medications that you can safely take, what can you do?


Postpartum migraines:
After the baby is born, migraines are likely to increase for most women.  So what can you do?


women and migraine

Peri-menopause migraines:
For some women, once they get into their 40s they may start to have irregular, unpredictable periods and this can lead to an increase in migraines.

Some solutions:

Endometriosis and migraine

Well what exactly is endometriosis? It is a chronic illness that affects more than six million women and girls. Basically tissue like that which lines the uterus (tissue called the endometrium) is found outside the uterus — usually in the abdomen on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and ligaments that support the uterus; the area between the vagina and rectum; the outer surface of the uterus; and the lining of the pelvic cavity. It can cause a lot of pain, infertility, fatigue and is related to other chronic illnesses like migraines, IBS, allergies and chemical sensitivities. Surprisingly endometriosis seems to be an illness also closely related to migraine. In one study of 133 women with endometriosis, 33% had migraines.


  • Continuous low-dose birth control
  • Natural therapies like magnesium
  • Working with a natropath to regulate hormones naturally

This is actually what I did, I have endometriosis and have used low-dose birth control and IUDs in the past. However, I’ve found the natural route to be a better choice for me personally.

While dealing with changes in hormones and treating migraines or other related illnesses can definitely be a challenge. Stay proactive in finding the right doctors. Headache specialists and OB/GYN can work together with you to find the right balance and best treatments for you and your migraines. Also educating yourself on hormones and how they affect you can also help you to take a more active role in your treatment plan. Have more questions?

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