Her headaches are getting worse


August 30, 2017

Dear Readers,

Shannon is an 18-year-old Check Up reader who emailed giving this information. Over several years she has noticed that she tends to get headaches with her monthly periods.

They weren't too bad, but now they have worsened and she is experiencing the headaches more frequently with her periods and also the headaches are more painful.

A doctor told her that she is experiencing migraine headaches. Advil and Baralgin used to help the pain but those medications have stopped working.

She now also feels nauseated and sometimes vomits with the headaches which affect the front and sides of her head.

While many women report that their menses are a migraine trigger, some women experience migraine headaches which are tied to changes in the body levels of the female hormone, oestrogen.

Oestrogen falls to a low level just before the start of menstruation each month. Migraines which occur at this time of the month due to the oestrogen fall-off are called menstrual migraines.

About 50 per cent of women with migraine headaches say that their headaches are influenced by their female cycles. Because of this some women take medication to prevent seeing any menstruation at all.

Oral contraceptive pill (OCP) users can also experience these headaches when taking those pills with high oestrogen content. OCPs with lower oestrogen content cause less headaches!

Hormone Replacement Therapy used during menopause can also trigger the headaches. On the other hand, use of low-dose OCP can actually prevent onset of migraine.

Usually use of Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil, Brufen, Cataflam and Ponstan, will help the migraine headache and if the over the counter varieties don't work then stronger, prescribed, medication can be obtained with a physician's prescription. These tablets will help both the migraine as well as any monthly menstrual cramps.

Drugs called Triptans are also used to treat migraine headaches. This expensive group of tablets shrink blood vessels and fight pain.

Some women will need a 'cocktail' of medications to remain pain free and will combine NSAIDs with Triptans and Baralgin (which is anti-spasmodic).

Taking magnesium tablets will both shorten migraine headaches and reduce menstrual cramps. Medication should be used from one to two days before the menses until the end of the menstruation.

Hormonal migraines go away during pregnancy which is good as minimal medications should be taken during pregnancy Monthly Depo Provera progestogen injections are also a useful treatment as they prevent the hormonal cycle.

Shannon will need to see a doctor to be thoroughly examined, diagnosed and treated. Severe headaches and vomiting can be caused by several disorders unrelated to menstruation!

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