If you get migraines toward the end of your period, you’ll want to read about this new study

/If you get migraines toward the end of your period, you’ll want to read about this new study

If you get migraines toward the end of your period, you’ll want to read about this new study

As many of you already know, I get menstrual migraines. Some occur in the few days right before my period starts. Some strike soon after it begins.

If you get menstrual migraines, too, then there’s something you should know: A new study in the journal Headache pinpoints another common time in your menstrual cycle when migraines can hit–the end of your period as bleeding is ending or shortly after it ends.

Dubbing it the “end-menstrual migraine” (EMM) because it occurs at the end of your period, the researchers examined the headache patterns of 85 menstrual migraine sufferers and found that 35.3% regularly experienced EMMs.

Here’s where things get really interesting though: Of those women who get EMMs, an overwhelming 93.3% of them also had low ferretin, an indicator of insufficient iron stored in the body. A dip in iron is a common problem at this point in your cycle because iron is shed as you bleed during menstruation.

What the researchers took from this was that these EMMs aren’t due to low estrogen like migraines that hit shortly before or shortly after menstruation begins. They argue that by the time your period ends, estrogen will have already risen to a level that shouldn’t cause these head-pounders. Instead, these EMMs must be due to low iron, which is known to also be a migraine trigger.

And, since low iron is the cause, it can also be the remedy.

If you tend to get migraines at the end of your period or shortly after, talk with your healthcare provider about it and find out if you can supplement with iron to help prevent them.

Looking for other natural migraine remedies? The ones I currently use–magnesium, coenzyme-Q10 and B vitamins–have significantly reduced the frequency and intensity of my migraines. But, you may find another natural treatment or combination of treatments that works for you. I’ve written about over a dozen here.

[Photo: Tara Hunt]

By | 2018-09-09T13:05:36+00:00 October 6th, 2016|health, hormonology tip, migraine, natural remedies, pain, Week 1|23 Comments

About the Author:

Gabrielle Lichterman is the founder of Hormonology, author of 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals about Your Love Life, Moods and Potential and creator of the popular Hormone Horoscope menstrual cycle tracker apps. In 2005, Gabrielle pioneered the growing movement among women to live in sync with their menstrual cycles and learn about the many ways their hormones impact their moods, health and behavior with the publication of her book, 28 Days. She's also a longtime women's health journalist whose articles have been published in major publications around the globe. Gabrielle's new updated and expanded version of 28 Days is due to be published December 2018. You can help get this book published by contributing to her crowdfunding campaign at iFundWomen.com/projects/hormonology.


  1. Gabrielle Lichterman October 21, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Susan. What you’ve said underscores the need to keep in mind that hormones aren’t the only culprit behind cycle-related migraines. And, a trip to your healthcare provider to assess your iron could be one way to sidestep these painful head-throbbers if they occur at the end of your period.

  2. Susan Geller September 17, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    This is a great article and supports what my hematologist has been telling me. I was severely anemic for about 3 years nearly needing a transfusion before I had 2 iron infusions to restore my iron levels. I now take a slow-release iron supplement every other day (Slow Fe) and follow a very strict iron-enriched diet…..I eat a lot of spinach, dried fruit, smoked oysters, and lean red meat. And oh yes, a small glass of OJ every day to help absorb the iron! It is amazing how wonderful I feel when I eat properly. HOWEVER, it never fails that every few months after my period, I still get a severe migraine. Low iron and periods do not mix well 🙁

  3. Gabrielle Lichterman September 6, 2018 at 10:55 am

    I used to love Frosted Mini Wheats — yum! I switched to Multigrain Cheerios to reduce my sugar intake, yet still get a daily infusion of iron. Other good sources of iron include beans, peas, lentils and spinach (which are best paired with a vitamin C-rich food to help absorb more of this type of “non-heme” plant-based iron) and lean meat. I’m glad you’ve found that topping up your iron has been helpful.

  4. Kyana Smith-Gonzalez August 22, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    Frosted mini wheat help with my migraines after my period. They are 100% iron. From my years of having headaches after my period. I knew it had to do something with a low iron deficiency so I found something with a lot of iron which were the Frosted mini-wheats.

  5. mdaycup August 4, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Really awesome article. Thanks for sharing that type of good content.

  6. Gabrielle Lichterman June 20, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    That’s considered a traditional menstrual migraine, which is spurred by hormone fluctuations in your menstrual cycle (plunging estrogen prior to menstruation, rising estrogen after menstruation begins). I have written about many tips for these types of migraines. You can find these posts here: https://www.myhormonology.com/category/migraine/

  7. Alisha June 20, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    What about if you get migraines a day or 2 before starting and ending your period?

  8. Gabrielle Lichterman April 12, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    You would need to ask your doctor these questions since you have a SLE. But, since you get your migraine toward the end of your period, I would certainly talk to your doctor about whether iron loss can be a migraine trigger for you.

  9. farah April 1, 2018 at 6:36 am

    My period lasts for 7 days, My migraine starts on the 5th day of the period and stays for 3 days till the end, the only thing that makes it better is relpax with voltfast together, but it comes back after 5 to 6 hours.

    I also have mild SLE, i wanted to know if the cause is hormonal or its ferritin insuffeciency, and is lupus and this migraine related?

  10. Gabrielle Lichterman March 17, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    I’m glad you found this information helpful, Caroline. I hope this helps resolve your migraine issue.

  11. Gabrielle Lichterman March 17, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    You’re welcome–I hope this information helps.

  12. Anonymous March 12, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    Comment…thank you so much, it started somes months ago

  13. Caroline March 7, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    Thank you so much for this article, it’s well written and gets to the point without endless waffle. I suffer from Endometriosis and Adenomyosis (which are related conditions concerning cells from inside the womb growing outside the womb, on other organs and inside the muscle of the womb, places they have no business in being!), because of these conditions I bleed more frequently (around every 2-3 weeks), for longer (sometimes spanning several months nonstop) and at times very heavily though the longer ones tend to be much lighter. In themselves these conditions are very painful with the painful areas depending on which organs are effected, one thing I’ve never had is migraines (many sufferers do though, estrogen is typically higher in women with these conditions), until recently. Thanks to your article I think the mystery is solved, I tend towards anaemia and have for most of my life, though I and my drs have always kept on top of it, however this stopped as I’d not needed it for a while. I’m going to restart iron supplements at the start of my periods until they stop and see if that rectifies the problem. I’ll update this with the result

  14. Gabrielle Lichterman February 10, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Ana, can you take iron through fortified foods, such as cereal? Or get enough of it through naturally iron-rich foods, such as beans, tofu or beef?

  15. Ana February 10, 2018 at 9:25 am

    I agree with this. I am 47 now, with low iron last 7 years. Migraines started about the same time as my anemia. The problem is when I take iron pills I have stomack pain and crumps.

  16. Karen December 31, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    I would get these headaches that lasted for two day after my period. I used to think that it was Tylenol withdrawal, as I used so much of the medication during my cycle. However, I had a hysterectomy in 2008, keeping my ovaries. I STILL suffer with these two-day headaches. I am 56 years old. Sometimes pain killers don’t help.

  17. Gabrielle Lichterman December 18, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Yes, it does include migraine with aura, according to the research: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/head.12942/full

  18. Eleah December 13, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Can migraines with aura (visual and numbness) also be brought on my iron deficiency at the end of a period?

  19. Eleah December 13, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    Does this also include migraines with aura?

  20. Gabrielle Lichterman November 7, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    I’m sorry, Dora, but I have no information regarding a link between high iron levels and post-period migraines.

  21. Gabrielle Lichterman November 7, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    I’m glad this information may be able to shed a bit of light one what may be causing your headaches, Heidi. As always, before taking any new supplement, check with your doctor first. (Some people don’t metabolize iron correctly.) If you can take iron, I hope this helps!

  22. Dora Martin November 7, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    So my ferratin is high and so is my iron (just found out i may have hemochromotocis) and am experiencing migraines the day after my period ends. Is there anything on that, by chance?

  23. Heidi November 7, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    I’m a 41 year old female. I’ve had bad headaches that lasts a couple days every now and then the past couple of years. It worried me because I never have had headaches in my life unless I was sick. I did realize after this last bout of headaches that it seems to happen at the end of my periods. I googled end of period headaches and found your article. Thanks so much!! Sometimes information to help understand what’s happening can be comforting enough.I had low iron anemia during both my pregnancies and after reading this I bet that is the problem. I am going to try supplementing iron before my period starts to see if that helps.

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