How your hormones mess with your headaches

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Did you know that statistically women suffer from headaches more often than men?

The most common types of headaches for women are tension headaches and migraines. 

Tension headaches can feel like a band around the head. If you feel a throbbing and pounding in your head, it is more likely to be a migraine.

Women tend to have more headaches because our bodies are complex and highly influenced by hormonal fluctuations. The key female hormone estrogen is in charge of the development and regulation of your reproductive system. So any time there is a fluctuation in estrogen levels, you can get a headache.  

 

You may be getting headaches due to these most common causes: 

1. You’re on your period or PMS

Nearly 60% of women with migraines get a type of headache called menstrual migraines. Right before your period, the amount of estrogen and progesterone, the two female hormones, in your body drops. This drastic change can trigger throbbing headaches.

2. You’re taking oral hormonal contraceptives 

When you take the pill, it keeps the hormones in your body steady for three weeks out of every month. When you take placebo pills or no pills at all during the week of your period, your estrogen levels change, so your head can start pounding. Some women may not have hormonal migraines. Those who do should consider birth control with low amounts of estrogen or only progestin. Talk to your doctor. 

3. You’re pregnant

As you get pregnant, estrogen increases quickly in the first trimester. You may notice your migraines getting worse because of this. After the third month of pregnancy, the levels of estrogen will even out, so the headaches may go away. If you’re pregnant and still getting headaches, don’t take any meds. It’s better to check with your doctor.

4. You’ve given birth to a baby

39% of postpartum women may have a headache within the first week after childbirth. This may be the result of the shift in hormones after the delivery or it could be related to some meds and conditions. 

Breastfeeding doesn’t contribute to postpartum headaches directly. However, women may get a headache while breastfeeding due to hormonal fluctuations, physical or emotional tiredness, lack of sleep or dehydration. 

If you have frequent or severe headaches while breastfeeding, talk with your doctor. 

5. You’re approaching or experiencing menopause 

A few years before menopause, estrogen levels start zigzagging, so many women get both tension headaches and migraines during this time. Once you enter menopause, migraines might ease, while some women observe that tension headaches show up more often. 

 

Consult your doctor to figure out the reasons for your headaches and get any further treatment if necessary.

 


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