PeriodPMS and PMDD

Symptoms and Medical Treatments for Hormonal Headaches

Women who get migraines often notice that they’re likely to hit just before or during their period. These headaches are called menstrual migraines.

They’re tied to changes in hormone levels just before a period starts. Your levels of estrogen, as well as progesterone, drop right before the start of your period. That’s when migraines are most likely.


A menstrual migraine is much like a regular migraine. You may notice:

  • Aura before the headache (not everyone gets this)
  • Throbbing pain on one side of your head
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

A PMS headache that comes before your period might have a few different symptoms:

  • Head pain
  • Fatigue
  • Acne
  • Joint pain
  • Peeing less
  • Constipation
  • Lack of coordination
  • Bigger appetite
  • Cravings for chocolate, salt, or alcohol

Medical Treatments


A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen is sometimes all you need to treat a menstrual migraine. You can buy these over the counter, or your doctor can prescribe a stronger version. Along with your migraine symptoms, these drugs can also relieve period cramps.

Triptans or Ditans are another option:

These drugs block pain signals in your brain. They can start to work as soon as 2 hours after you take them.

Your doctor may suggest that you take both an NSAID and a triptan to get relief.

If your period comes every month like clockwork, you can start these drugs a few days before your bleeding starts and continue for up to a week. This often prevents the migraine from coming on. If your period doesn’t always stick to a schedule, your doctor may suggest you try a different type of drug that will prevent a headache from happening in the first place.

Noninvasive Nerve Stimulation (nVNS) Therapy:

These handheld devices are worn on your forehead, neck or arm and allow the patient to self-administer a mild electrical pulse to the vagus nerve and bring relief from migraine pain.


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