Women are more prone to headaches, especially those related to hormonal changes. Females make up about 70% of migraine sufferers which indicates a hormonal link. These may be associated with their menstrual period, and some women have an increase in headaches around menopause. Estrogen and progesterone are two hormones that play key roles in regulating the menstrual cycle and are also implicated in headaches. Low estrogen levels and progesterone deficiency can both trigger or make headaches worse. Ask you doctor for blood tests to check your estrogen and progesterone levels.
Headaches just before or during menses are likely due to the drop in estrogen just before your period. Estrogen fluctuation affects prostaglandin production, prolactin release and the body’s innate production of endorphins and enkephalins which regulate pain. Sometimes your doctor will recommend birth control pills to regulate your cycle and therefore your headaches, particularly if you have irregular periods. However, some women experience headaches caused by birth control pills. Progestin only or monthly pill packs with fewer inactive/ placebo days reduce the drop in estrogen and tend to reduce these headaches.