Migraine during menstrual cycle – could things get any worse for women? Read all about menstrual migraine symptoms, in the following article.
I think all women go through periods where we hate this about ourselves, we don’t like that. It’s great to get to a place where you dismiss anything you’re worried about. I find flaws attractive. I find scars attractive.
~ Angelina Jolie
Well, every person’s definition, perception and opinion of a flaw may be different but one thing that we women unanimously hate is menstruation! Oh no, don’t get me wrong! I am totally aware of the blessings of a regular, timely period – I even feel thankful towards my body every time Aunt Flo pays me a visit each month around the expected date. You see, while we all (the women folk, of course!) know how important our monthly cycles are and feel grateful and relieved when things go (or rather, come) as usual, we don’t exactly LIKE what happens to our body and mind during those 3-5 days. In other words, while we do look forward to it as the date approaches, we can’t help thinking about when it gets over even as the first day has just kicked in with all its bloody glory!
Had it only been the blood loss part, things wouldn’t have been this bad. However, Nature had other plans for us – mortifying stomach cramps, dull pain in the back and legs, volatile mood swings, PMS were the hidden causes (as in conditions apply!?!?) Mother Nature had in store for us when she put that invisible asterisk on the Menstruation section of the Human Female Physiology blueprint! Anyway, coming back to the titular issue of menstrual migraine symptoms, let’s take a look at it from a closer perspective.
Symptoms of Menstrual Migraine
Two out of every three people in the world suffer, or have suffered from, some or the other type of headache. Among these, a significant proportion of headaches are migraine headaches. Despite this, the exact cause behind migraine has not been pin pointed till date. What all we know about migraine and its causes are but medical speculations based upon clinical observation case studies and statistics. Among all such speculations, three assumptions regarding what causes migraine are most popular and seem to make the most sense. These three assumptions are:
→ Irritation of cerebral nerves
→ Vascular constriction in the head and skull region (believed to give the effect of the aura that is so inextricably linked with the majority of migraine cases)
→ Low serotonin levels (please note that serotonin is the hormonal neurotransmitter that regulates moods, sexual behavior and sensations of pain)
Typical menstrual migraine indications in women include headache and all or any combination of the following:
- Joint Pain
- Decrease in amount and frequency of urination
- Salt or chocolate cravings
- Increased appetite
- Alcohol cravings
A noteworthy point here is that unlike regular migraine attacks, a menstrual migraine episode is not usually accompanied by the characteristic aura. Sensitivity to bright lights, strong smells and loud noises exists in case of menstrual migraine. Menstrual migraine treatment may include administration of oral contraceptives to rein in the raging hormones and provide relief. Besides this, NSAIDs and diet regulation to avoid migraine triggers are also common instruments for menstrual migraine management.
In case of migraine in women during menstrual cycles, the point regarding the hormone serotonin as the causative agent seems to make most sense as during menstruation, a woman’s body becomes the battleground of hormones where chemical signals run amok and their interactions cause a lot of physiological unrest. Now, at a time when the female hormones estrogen and progesterone undergo radical fluctuations within a short span of time, this is likely to affect the way other hormones affect various functions of the body. This hormonal fluctuation during menstruation and ovulation often causes the serotonin levels to dip below normal, leading to episodes of migraine like headache. Low serotonin causes the blood vessels in the brain to dilate and constrict alternatively, in a rhythm, that gives the feeling of a throbbing headache. It may sound somewhat alarming but at least 66% of all women who are in an age where ovulation and menstruation takes place regularly suffer from menstrual migraine!