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  • Writer's pictureScotti McLaren

Hormonal Headaches and Migraines: What to Do ?!

Updated: Mar 10

As we navigate through peri- and menopause, significant changes occur in our bodies as a result of our hormones gone wild. A notable consequence of these changes can be the development or intensification of hormonal headaches and migraines. UGH!

Distinguishing between headache and migraine

There are clear differences between headaches and migraines in terms of symptoms, duration, triggers and overall impact.

Headaches typically present as a mild to moderate pain around the head, whereas migraines are more severe, often pulsating, and can significantly disrupt daily activities.

Migraines also come with additional symptoms like sensitivity to light, nausea and sometimes visual disturbances known as aura.

Who is most affected?

From puberty onwards, woman are more susceptible to migraines compared to men. This increased risk is largely attributed to hormonal factors, particularly fluctuations in oestrogen levels.

The good news is that hormonal headaches and migraines tend to calm down a bit in menopause. It can be something to look forward to! But please don't suffer until then to address them.

Understanding the triggers

The fluctuation of oestrogen levels is a key factor in the occurrence of hormonal headaches and migraines. These hormonal changes can directly affect the brain's pain control chemicals, leading to increased frequency of events and severity of symptoms.

Other contributing factors include stress and histamine levels.

Managing hormonal headaches and migraines

Effectively tackling hormonal headaches and migraines often requires a combination of strategies. Some general suggestions are listed below.

(Please note that every woman is different - but really! That's where a personalised approach comes in.)

Medical treatment: Hormonal contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may affect the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines. However, their effects vary individually. And, I'm not a doctor - please speak to yours about medical options. (Although, you are always welcome to ask me what the research has to say.)

Food: Recognising and avoiding food allergies or intolerances, reducing high histamine foods, balancing blood sugar and choosing anti-inflammatory foods can help.

Nutrients: Magnesium, iron, CoQ10, omega-3 fatty acids and certain vitamins are sometimes beneficial.

Lifestyle: Engaging in regular exercise, managing stress, ensuring adequate sleep and limiting alcohol and caffeine intake are key lifestyle adjustments for managing hormones.

How personalised nutrition & functional medicine fit in

The ideas above are generalised. But - a 'one-size-fits-all' approach falls short when dealing with hormonal issues. Personalised nutrition and functional medicine can play an important role in addressing hormonal headaches and migraines.

Functional medicine investigates the underlying causes of health issues, focusing on a woman's unique environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors. By integrating functional medicine principles, personalised nutrition strategies can be effectively targeted, to address the root causes of hormonal imbalances and their associated symptoms.

For women over 40, effectively managing hormonal headaches and migraines forms an important part of navigating the changes associated with (peri-)menopause. A qualified nutritional therapist can offer tailored guidance for a comprehensive approach to health and wellbeing.

For detailed advice and research, get in touch! Scotti McLaren Personalised Nutrition

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