Migraines and Hormones: What’s the Connection?

Migraines and Hormones: What’s the Connection?

Millions of endometriosis patients worldwide experience hormonal headaches, also known as menstrual migraines or simply migraines. I spent the better part of last week completely unable to function because of one of these very untimely occurrences. I couldn’t look at my computer or do any work. I had to draw the curtains to prevent any summer light from coming in. I became a bit of a recluse, which naturally ended up affecting my mental health. Yay! 

So, what are hormonal headaches?

Hormonal headaches are typically severe and longer lasting than other types. Some people experience an aura — flashes of light and other sensory disturbances — which acts as a warning that a migraine is about to come on. Others suffer from pulsating pain or a sharp pain around the head. Some migraines make you supersensitive to light or sound, while others can cause nausea and vomiting.

Migraines differ a lot depending on the person; some patients suffer only one type, while others experience several different kinds. They can feel like a regular headache, disappearing after a short while, or stay around for days.

Like a storm in my brain. (Photo by Jessie Madrigal)

Why do they happen?

The key to hormonal headaches lies in their name: hormones. Some are linked to a drop in estrogen during the days before a period, which is why they are sometimes called menstrual migraines. Other theories point toward an excess of said hormones, which would be the case for people with endometriosis. What seems to be clear is that there is a link between hormonal imbalance, or a fluctuation of hormones, and migraines.

How to deal with migraines

Migraines are tricky to prevent, but possible to manage. In some cases, you might be able to prevent them by avoiding triggers such as stress, practicing meditation, exercising, or getting as much fresh air as possible. Dietary changes can help, too, since alcohol and caffeine tend to bring on headaches or make them worse. Staying hydrated is also highly recommended.

Once a migraine is in full swing, medication (regular paracetamol or more targeted treatments in pill form) can help. Some patients feel it’s more effective to take painkillers before the migraine is at its worst. I take CBD oil, which works before the pain hits me hard, or once the migraine has settled in, reduces its severity.

Mid-migraine, I’m little more than a comfy mattress for Jarvis. (Photo by Jessie Madrigal)

Whenever I suffer from a migraine, it means an almost complete shutdown. I have to draw the curtains, much to the annoyance of anyone nearby, who’ll think the rumors that I am a vampire are true. I have to wear sunglasses even when it is cloudy or overcast and drink a lot of water. A migraine limits my capabilities so much that all I can do is rest, not looking at my phone or laptop. Then it’s just a matter of patiently waiting for the migraine to clear up. 

Hormonal migraines are horribly debilitating and not exclusive to those of us who have a chronic condition. They can happen to anyone who gets periods, and can occur quite often during menopause. 

While they can be very painful and life-altering, every migraine has one thing in common: They all pass. It’s like riding out a very painful storm. Once the clouds have cleared, you get to be you again.


Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.