Headaches and migraines are common conditions with a wide variety of causes. It is not uncommon for headaches and migraines to be linked to your period.
According to 2009 research that grouped participants into categories of women and men,
While some people experience headache symptoms the week before or during the actual days of their period, other people have headaches or pain caused by another part of the menstrual cycle: ovulation.
In this article, we explore why ovulation and menstruation can cause headaches and migraines and what you can do to prevent and relieve symptoms.
As you can probably guess, menstrual headaches are related to your menstrual cycle. A “menstrual” headache usually refers to headaches and migraines that occur just before or during your period.
Drops in your estrogen levels that happen just before you start bleeding can be the catalyst for these headaches or
Ovulation headaches are also linked to your menstrual cycle, but they occur just before or during ovulation.
Ovulation is the time in your cycle when your ovaries release an egg in preparation for fertilization. The release of this egg is the beginning of the “fertile window”. This is the only time of the month when you can get pregnant. Typically, ovulation occurs about 14 days after the first day of your period.
An ovulation headache can be a tension-type headache or a migraine. Ovulation and menstrual headaches area typically linked to other types of headache.
Hormones are the primary underlying cause of both menstrual and ovulation headaches.
As your body prepares to ovulate, estrogen levels build. Once estrogen levels are at their peak, luteinizing hormone rises and tells your body it’s time to release an egg whichhas prepared in your ovary.
When the egg is released, some people feel pain or discomfort. Others dodon’t notice anything. And some people get headaches or migraines because of all that hormonal activity.
People who have menstrual headaches and migraines may experience them due to the drastic drop in their estrogen levels.
Similarly, people who have ovulation headaches and migraines may experience headaches because their estrogen levels are very high during that time of the cycle.
Another hormone called prostaglandin, of which some people have higher levels, has also been linked to migraines.
Tension-type headaches and migraines linked to stages of your menstrual cycle dondo not necessarily have characteristic symptoms. However, this type of headache can be more disruptive to your daily activities when combined with other menstrual cycle symptoms, such as pelvic pain, cramps and fatigue.
Symptoms of an ovulation or menstrual-related headache may include:
- throbbing pain in one or both sides of your head
- visual disturbances such as blurred vision, also known as aura
- sensitivity to sunlight or bright lights
- sensitivity to sound
- nausea or vomiting
Since ovulation headaches have a hormonal trigger, most treatment strategies aim to control that hormonal peak and trough so that they don’tnot so bad.
Although there are many treatment strategies available for menstrual-related headaches and migraines, more research is needed specific to ovulation headache treatment.
- Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) can help with pain from ovulation headaches. However, if you experience migraines, these over-the-counter remedies may not be as helpful.
- A warm or cool compress to your head can help calm and distract from a headache.
- Diffusing peppermint essential oil or even applying diluted peppermint oil topically
can help reducepain from tension-type headache.
- When your body has a bad headache or migraine, getting more sleep or rest can do wonders to restore your body.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
To treat an ovulation headache or migraine that is currently ongoing, you may need to try a prescription-strength nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or a class of medications called triptans.
Triptans are used to control pain from severe, recurring headaches and can be given as a nasal spray, oral tablet, or even an injection.
If your headache is caused by ovulation, managing your hormones with preventative medication can help.
Your doctor may prescribe birth control pills to control the sharp drops in hormones that occur during ovulation. If you are already using birth control pills, you may want to try a different type to prevent ovulation headaches.
If youIf you get frequent migraine attacks, you can get preventive medication to take during the time of your cycle when you tend to experience migraine episodes.
Doctors sometimes prescribe the following classes of medications to prevent hormone headaches and migraines:
If you have this type of headache often, or if your symptoms are severe, talk to a doctor. They may have lifestyle recommendations or specific methods you can try to prevent headaches.
Ovulation headaches can be caused by a peak of estrogen and rising luteinizing hormone.
Like other types of headaches linked to your cycle, these can be treated with hormone therapy if they occur regularly. Home remedies can also help you deal with the pain of this type of headache.
More research is needed to understand how common ovulation headaches are and whether there are other treatments that can effectively treat this particular headache trigger.