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Menstrual Migraine

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.

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