Migraines Worsen as Women Approach Menopause
NEW YORK — January 22, 2016 — Migraine headaches worsen as women approach menopause, according to a study published online in the journal Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain.
“Women have been telling doctors that their migraine headaches worsen around menopause and now we have proof they were right,” said lead author Vincent Martin, MD, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.
The risk of high frequency headaches, with 10 days of headache per month, increased by 60% in middle-aged women with migraine during perimenopause, compared with normally cycling women.
The researchers examined 3,664 women who experienced migraine before and during their menopausal years. The menopausal years included both the perimenopause and menopause.
“Changes in female hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone that occur during the perimenopause might trigger increased headaches during this time,” said co-author Richard Lipton, MD, Montefiore Headache Center, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York.
The risk of headache was most apparent during the later stage of the perimenopause, which is a time during which women first begin skipping menstrual periods and experience low levels of oestrogen, added Dr. Lipton.
Dr. Martin said women who participated in the study also reported that high frequency headaches increased by 76% during menopause. However, researchers think that it may not necessarily be the direct result of hormonal changes, but rather due to medication overuse that occurs commonly during this time.
“Women as they get older develop lots of aches and pains, joints, and back pain and it is possible their overuse of pain medications for headache and other conditions might actually drive an increase in headaches for the menopause group,” said Dr. Martin.
Researchers identified the group of women aged 35 to 65 years from the AMPP Study for the cross-sectional observational analysis. The AMPP Study is a longitudinal study where 24,000 people with severe headache were followed annually over 6 years. Women with migraine were asked to self-report their frequency of headaches as well as the characteristics of their menstrual cycles.
SOURCE: Montefiore Health System