Are your hormones causing your headaches?

Headache, Migraine, Hormones, Oestrogen, Estrogen

In women, headaches and migraines are often brought about by fluctuations in hormones, particularly oestrogen fluctuations. Consequently, many women experience headaches around menstruation and perimenopause when oestrogen levels drop considerably. Conversely, some women report the absence of migraines during pregnancy when oestrogen and progestogen are high.

The oral contraceptive pill may contribute to headaches due to the sudden drop of oestrogen in the last week of the cycle due to the pills containing only sugar at that time. If you are experiencing headaches at this time, you may want to talk to your doctor about switching to a low dose oestrogen pill or a progesterone-only pill. Although not actually a method of contraception, Temperature charting may be a hormone-free method of fertility tracking.

Headaches may also be brought on by prolonged exposure to stress where the cortisol hormone increases blood pressure and heart rate. Cortisol shares the same pathway as progesterone. The more cortisol, the less progesterone, which is needed to balance oestrogen and reduce oestrogen dominance. Other hormones that may lead to headaches include a reduction of the thyroid hormones in hypothyroidism and a drop in blood sugar levels in hypoglycemia.

Reducing stress through gentle exercise and meditation may help as will adequate hydration (2+ litres of water per day), quality B group vitamins and increased dietary fibre intake. Studies have shown that a quality magnesium supplement can be an inexpensive and effective treatment for preventing headaches and migraines. Applying lavender oil above the top lip has also been shown to be effective in treating headaches. Other therapies, such as massage and acupuncture, have also been shown to be very effective for treating headaches.

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