According to new research, women may see an increase in their migraine headaches near menopause. For many women, migraines are triggered by hormone fluctuations, so it makes sense that menopause might lead to increased migraines, but the amount of increase is surprising.
A 50% Increase
The study is based on a survey of more than 3000 women who experienced migraines before, during, or after menopause. The survey asked women about their headache symptoms and details of their menstrual cycles.
The data showed that only about 8% of women having regular periods had migraines for more than 10 days a month, but 12% of women in perimenopause or postmenopause had 10 or more migraine days per month. Data indicated that headache risk was slightly higher during the late perimenopausal period, then decreased slightly for the postmenopausal women.
Statistical analysis was done using two different models, one that adjusted for basics, such as stage of menopausal adjustment and basic sociodemographics. In this model, perimenopausal women were 1.6 times more likely to have chronic migraines while postmenopausal women were 1.8 times more likely to have chronic migraines. The second model included demographics, body mass index, depression, and medications. Under the second model, postmenopausal women had no elevated risk, while perimenopausal women had a relative risk of 1.4.
Medication Overuse Is a Major Problem
Based on the fact that the second statistical model essentially eliminated the risk of increased migraines for postmenopausal women, researchers concluded that medication overuse was a significant contributor to migraines among older women.
They speculate that women begin using more medications to control pain during the perimenopausal period, then experience more overuse or “rebound” headaches in the postmenopausal period.
One way women can avoid medication overuse headaches is to try drug-free treatments for migraines. For many women TMJ treatment can significantly reduce both the frequency and severity of migraines. If you have other TMJ symptoms such as jaw pain, jaw noises, tinnitus, facial pain, and tingling or numbness in the face or fingers, you should explore TMJ treatment for your migraines.