There are two types of menstrual headaches. First, there is the pure menstrual headache, which only occurs during the menstrual cycle. The second type is menstrually related headaches or migraines (MRM). These headaches are suffered during the menstrual cycle, but are experienced at other times as well.
Obtaining a thorough patient history and determining the originating area of pain, frequency, severity and duration are the first steps of diagnosing menstrual headaches. Visit www.wdxcyber.com to read the diagnostic criteria on migraine headaches related to the menstrual cycle.
It is also important for every woman to understand her own cycle. She needs to understand the symptoms and the way she feels before during and after her period. This is important because it helps in determining when something is not quite right. To see how well you know your cycle, visit www.knowmycycle.com and take the quiz.
Approximately 60% of women who suffer from migraine headaches report that the frequency and severity increases during their menstrual cycles. Of these women, 10 to 14% say that they only experience headaches during their menstrual cycle.
Menstrual headaches occur when progesterone and estrogen levels decline during the late stages of the menstrual cycle. Estrogen supplements during this time can help delay the onset of the headache. Women who are predisposed to having migraine headaches are believed to be more likely to have a migraine during this period of estrogen withdrawal.
Most women notice their headaches more around the time of their period. Many probably have headaches at other times that are not as severe but, because of the bloating, cramping and fatigue during the menstrual cycle, headaches are more noticeable. Successful treatment can be quick for some and more challenging for others. Prescription drugs are often used at the onset of a headache. These are known as acute medications. However, preventative medications may also be prescribed for those with symptoms that are more severe and disabling. Prescription drug therapy also has its downfalls. Many women begin using the prescription drugs for all headaches, which can lead to over medicating. For full details on acute and preventative drug therapies, visit www.achenet.org.
Non-drug therapies can also help reduce the severity and duration of a migraine headache. These methods include but are not limited to: relaxation therapy, hypnosis, meditation, and physical manipulation such as massage therapy. These methods are also divided into the acute and preventative categories.
Acute methods (treatment at the onset) include using ice or heat on the face, head or neck. Using relaxation techniques and dimming lights can help reduce the severity of an attack.
Biofeedback, stress management and acupuncture are examples of preventative techniques in managing menstrual migraine headaches. If you would like to read more about these methods visit www.amazinghealing.com for acupuncture, www.mayoclinic.com for biofeedback, and for information on hypnosis visit www.innermind.co.uk. Though these preventative methods help in controlling the headaches, they also require commitment. Most will require follow-up visits and training in how to use them.
Paying attention to which factors bring on headaches can also help prevent menstrual headaches. Women who suffer attacks should make sure that they are getting enough rest, eating regularly and avoiding alcoholic beverages before they start their menstruation. Regular aerobic exercise also helps many women keep headaches at bay.
Menstrual headaches affect almost 13 million women in the US. The National Headache Foundation has formed a coalition called the National Menstrual Migraine Coalition. The purpose of the coalition is to raise awareness and help those who suffer from menstrual headaches. To visit the website set up by the coalition go to www.menstrualmigraine.org.