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Understanding the Link Between Migraines and Hormones

Your hormones affect virtually every organ and system in your body. When something goes even a teensy bit haywire, your hormones may trigger a slew of symptoms. Two common symptoms of imbalanced hormones are headaches and migraines. 

An expert in brain health and hormones, Kimberley Shine, MD, at Shine Health and Wellness explains the connection between migraines and hormones. 

What are hormonal migraines?

Hormonal headaches are simply headaches caused by imbalanced hormone levels. Of course, the link between hormones and headaches is not so simple: While hormones are the main factor, what causes the hormone imbalance can vary greatly among people. 

Hormonal headaches and migraines tend to affect women more than men, because the primary hormones responsible for these migraines are female sex hormones — estrogen and progesterone. The changes that women go through during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause often trigger hormonal migraines. 

Causes of hormonal migraines

Many factors can influence your susceptibility to hormonal migraines, including genetics and lifestyle factors, such as diet, exercise, stress, and sleep. But underneath all of that are fluctuating hormones. Here’s a look at which scenarios can increase your risk for hormonal migraines: 

Menstrual cycle

Women experience a dip in estrogen and progesterone just before menstruation. For some women, this is a very stark drop, which can cause debilitating migraines.

Pregnancy

Estrogen levels rise during pregnancy to support mom and baby. A big increase may cause migraines, and if levels ebb and flow during pregnancy, migraines may persist throughout. 

Childbirth

After giving birth, estrogen levels decrease once again. This may trigger hormonal migraines. 

Perimenopause and menopause

With menopause, there is a decrease in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. These changes can lead to headaches. 

Birth control

Oral and injected contraceptives contain concentrated doses of hormones to help prevent pregnancy. Some women experience migraines when they take birth control pills or get an implant. 

Symptoms of hormonal migraines

While the main symptom of hormonal migraines is head pain, there are other symptoms that can accompany the headaches. These include:

How to treat hormonal migraines

If you think your hormones are affecting your health and daily life, talk to Dr. Shine. She may first advise you to make lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, getting more sleep, managing stress, and getting in some moderate exercise every day.

If lifestyle changes don’t work, Dr. Shine can give you bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) to balance out your hormone levels. With BHRT, Dr. Shine gives you synthetic versions of hormones that are chemically identical to the hormones your body produces naturally. These slow-release hormones can restore balance and maintain your hormone levels over time. 

If you want to see if a hormonal imbalance is affecting you, book an appointment online or over the phone with Shine Health and Wellness today.

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