Q: Each month, just before my period, I get these horrible migraines that
put me out of commission for days. Nothing I do seems to make a dent in the
pain. What do you suggest?
Dr. Donnica: It sounds like you have a relatively common condition called
menstrual migraine. Of the 18 million women estimated to be migraine sufferers
in the US, approximately two thirds experience migraine within the six days before
their menstrual periods. Migraine headaches of this type are typically the most
severe and least likely to respond to treatment.
In some women, taking low-dose birth control pills may reduce the frequency
of menstrual migraine; however, some women experience an increased effect when
they try this treatment. Progestin-only birth control pills may also be helpful.
While there are numerous prescription and over-the-counter treatments for migraine,
prevention is often the best bet. Try to identify any triggers for your migraines
and avoid them. Practice healthy lifestyle habits such as getting adequate sleep
and balanced nutrition. Keep a headache diary and bring this with you to consult
a headache specialist who can review what medications you have already tried
and offer some new options. If your medication is not helping you despite taking
it according to the instructions, speak with your physician about the possibility
of taking a medicine prophylactically to prevent your migraines altogether.
For more information about migraines, click here.
Created: 12/27/2003  - Donnica Moore, M.D.