16 Mar Get menstrual migraines? News you need to know
- Menstrual migraine sufferers and stress migraine sufferers are more sensitive to other migraine triggers
- Being exposed to a migraine trigger around your period can trigger a migraine or worsen a menstrual migraine
- Track your habits and migraines to see if you can pinpoint any triggers that are avoidable
Do you get menstrual migraines–the kind that occur in the few days before or during your period?
Ever wonder why sometimes these migraines are more intense or more frequent from cycle to cycle?
Researchers have found the answer, and–spoiler alert–it’s not the greatest news you’ll hear today: Turns out, menstrual migraine sufferers are more sensitive to other migraine triggers.(1)
This means that being exposed to factors that have the potential to spur a migraine on their own (bright sunlight, for example) increases the likelihood that you’ll have a major head-pounder around menstruation. That’s because exposure to one kind of migraine trigger can increase your sensitivity to the sharply fluctuating hormones that are behind your menstrual migraine.
Get migraines due to stress? Researchers say that this also makes you more sensitive to other migraine triggers. Which means if you’re exposed to something that has the potential to cause a migraine (say, aged cheese), then you experience high stress, the combination makes you more likely to develop a full-blown brain-bender than if you had experienced high stress alone.
Common migraine triggers
Unfortunately, there are a wide range of migraine triggers. It’s not just a matter of simply avoiding certain foods or beverages. Migraine triggers can also be from your workload, the environment or due to lifestyle habits. Below are some common culprits:
- stress (the most common trigger among those with menstrual migraine)
- exposure to bright sunlight
- sleep disturbance or too little sleep
- change of weather
- certain food, such as citrus fruits, berries, chocolate and aged cheese
This list is by no means exhaustive. And, what may be a trigger for you may not be a trigger for someone else.
So, what can you do about your migraines?
Now that you know other migraine triggers can play a role in affecting your menstrual migraine, it’s important to do a bit of investigating to try to figure out any other personal migraine triggers.
To do this, keep a journal listing all the foods and beverages you consume, your level of stress, odors you notice, how much sleep you get, sunlight exposure and anything else you can think of at least one week before and throughout your period.
Then, track your migraines–when they occur, how intense they are, how long they last, etc.
Determine if you can figure out a pattern. Maybe you discover that if you consume citrus fruit before your period, your menstrual migraines are worse. Or you maybe you realize that sleeping longer results in less intense menstrual migraines.
If you can eliminate one of your other migraine triggers, you may be able to positively impact your menstrual migraines, resulting in fewer migraines, shorter migraines and/or less migraine pain.
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(1) “Geographical Differences in Trigger Factors of Tension-Type Headaches and Migraines,” Current Pain and Headache Reports, February 2019, link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11916-019-0760-6