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Menstrual Migraine

Did you know that about 60% of females report their menstrual cycle as a trigger to experiencing headaches or migraines?

What is a menstrual migraine?

Menstrual migraines are a specific type of migraine, of which the timing correlates closely with the timing of the menstrual cycle, specifically the time at which estrogen levels fall. There is a difference between females who identify their menstruation as a trigger, and people who suffer from menstrual migraines. The diagnosis occurs via keeping a diary for a minimum of 3 months to track exactly when migraines are starting in correlation with the cycle. It is thought that the migraine will occur either 2 days prior to or the first 3 days of the period. Migraines that only ever occur during this time will be diagnosed as a menstrual migraine.

It is thought that instead of sensory changes, slight chemical changes due to fluctuations in hormones cause an already sensitised brainstem to react, which produces symptoms. Tackling the upper cervical spine that contributes to brainstem sensitisation should also help to minimise symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Headache pain
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Acne
  • Joint pain
  • Constipation
  • Lack of Coordination
  • Sensitivity to bright lights or loud noise
  • Nausea/Vomiting


Medication related treatments are quite common, where by the doctor may suggest estrogen supplements via tablet or patch, or in the case of irregular cycles, a low does contraceptive pill may be recommended to help regulate cycles and estrogen levels.

Alternatively, menstrual migraines can be treated using conservative methods by altering diet, monitoring fluid consumption and managing the muscles and joints of the neck to help desensitise the brainstem. Massage and heat to the muscles of the upper back and neck can help to relax the muscles and destress the joints that are contributing to sensitivity of the brainstem. Manual therapy treatment to the cervical vertebrae is also essential in desensitising the brainstem.

It is recommended to keep taking note in a diary once treatment begins to ensure that the treatment is effective, and to confirm that the pain you are experiencing is menstrual cycle related. Migraine and the specific types can be very difficult to accurately diagnose.

If you are someone, or know someone who is suffering from migraines or headaches, get in contact today on 1800 HEADACHE, for an initial assessment, diagnosis and to begin life changing treatment now!


Menstrual migraine

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