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women going through menopause

Headaches during Perimenopause

Many women going through menopause experience horrible migraines and headaches. Unfortunately, these are typical symptoms of perimenopause and are usually related to hormone levels. If experienced chronically, these headaches can make living day-to-day life especially difficult. Take some time to read over the following information concerning perimenopausal headaches.

Headaches and migraines are often related to hormonal imbalance.

What Is the Relationship between Perimenopause and Headaches?

Quick Fact:

Over 30% of women will suffer from perimenopausal headaches.

Headaches and migraines that occur during perimenopause are often related to hormone levels. The two main hormones that control a woman's menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone, influence the blood vessels: estrogen works to dilate blood vessels, while progesterone constricts them. It is the process of dilation and constriction that affects the brain and scalp's blood flow and therefore causes headaches. For this reason, changing levels of estrogen and progesterone during perimenopause can similarly produce headaches.

What Other Factors May Cause Perimenopause Headaches?

As with normal headaches, there are factors that can trigger or worsen headaches during perimenopause. These include:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Strong smells
  • Bright or flashing lights
  • Skipping meals

Managing Perimenopausal Headaches

Along with avoiding certain triggers for menopausal headaches, there are different ways menopausal headaches can be managed. However, why migraines happen and how they work is not fully understood, so it can sometimes be difficult to properly diagnose and treat migraines.

One method that works for some women is low doses of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Although this does help some women balance their hormones and reduce migraines, HRT has created or worsened migraines for other women. Incorporating soy and soy-based foods into their daily diet can also help because of soy's phytoestrogen content, which may help restore the estrogen the body has lost.

Lifestyle adjustments may also help soothe menopausal headaches. It's important to maintain a regular sleep pattern, eat a healthy breakfast, and try to minimize stress in your life. Some women also find massages helpful to reduce stress and neck muscle tension.

Blood sugar levels are also connected to migraines. It could be helpful to take steps to stabilize your blood sugar. This includes minimizing unhealthy carbs and fats in the diet, eating smaller, more frequent meals, and making sure you eat enough fiber.

How Can I Prevent Perimenopausal Headaches?


Anti-depressants are commonly prescribed to relieve PMS and perimenopause symptoms, but may have side effects, including headache, drowsiness and sexual dysfunction.

The importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise cannot be underestimated. This includes eating healthily, but also eating regularly: eat balanced meals to avoid snacking unnecessarily throughout the day.

There are also alternative medicines that can help stabilize hormone levels naturally and thus reduce the incidence of perimenopause headaches. These work better when combined with a healthy lifestyle. Finally, it is important that you visit your doctor if you are experiencing headaches for a long period of time or suffering from very severe episodes.

For this reason, it is important to consider all of the options in the treatment for perimenopausal headaches.

How to Handle Menopausal Headaches during Summer Vacations

Drinking plenty of water, limiting sun exposure, and taking time to relax are beneficial ways of handling menopausal headaches.

Choosing the Right Treatment for Headaches

It is important to try different treatment options - like drinking plenty of water, exercising, and taking medication - to see which works best for you.

7 Things to Avoid When Suffering from Headaches

It is important to avoid skipping meals, processed foods, and excessive stress in order to prevent headaches. Keep reading to learn more.

  • Love, S. (2003). Dr. Susan Love's Menopause and Hormone Book. (2nd ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press.
  • National Health Service UK. (2015). Hormone headaches. Retrieved from