need to bring up headaches again

AndierutDecember 16, 2001

Who else is suffering from excruciating headaches or possibly migraines from perimenopause or menopause?

I suffered from "sick" headaches as a child and they went away for years. Both of my grandmothers developed migraines as they proceeded into menopause. I was always afraid that would happen to me when the time came, and unfortunately it has.

Generally, I get the headaches on the second day of my period. My periods are still coming every month, but somewhat irregular. I'm 49 and have been having perimenopause symptoms for about 9 years now.

This month 2 days before my period I felt like I had morning sickness and yesterday 1 day before, I woke up with one of my terrible headaches. I take Advil right away and it never helps; neither does aspirin or Tylenol. The only thing that helps is when it finally is so bad that I'm just physically "knocked out" by it, I lay down in the dark and after an hour or two of sleep it fades. It starts all over my head and seems to finally land on the upper left side of my head over my left eye.

The pain is so bad that I become nauseous and I get very hot and sweaty.

Any thoughts on meds that might help or any other remedies?



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You are correct in the fact that if you had headaches going through puberty, your chances of them coming again with menopause is good. I too had terrible migranes going through puberty into my late 20's, then they faded...maybe one a year. Now that I am 48, I have had them more often, now maybe four a year...and I am not looking forward to having them as often as I did in puberty...I had at least three a week!

One thing that helps me when I first get the signs of a migrane (I get the aura) is to brew a pot of really strong coffee and drink the whole pot black. It keeps the blood vessels from constricting in your head, and helps the blood flow without constriction. There is also a new asprin just for migranes on the market now from Excederin that contains high amounts of caffine which acts much the same as the pot of coffee. The key is to catch it ASAP. Pain from migranes are actually brused blood vessels from the constriction caused by the vessels not expanding enough to let the blood through. Fun....oh sigh...I hope this helps some.

There are also new meds that you can spray up your nose available through a DR that will help you if you suffer often.

Good luck

    Bookmark   December 16, 2001 at 6:03PM
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Oh Jeez...I never had headaches in my life, now in the last year I get ones just like you describe. I've had one for four days now, and prescription Motrin only takes the edge off, doesn't kill the pain really. Last night I took Vicodin to try sleeping without waking up with a headache & I swear it was worse this morning.

Mr Carina is a doctor and says its sinuses, even though I don't feel stuffy. If you tap sharply with your finger over the bridge of your nose & under your eyes and you feel pain, it could be...he suggested antihistamines but I haven't taken any yet. You may want to try that.

I drink TONS of coffee, and it seems to make it worse, so perhaps it depends on what kind of headache it is. I occasionally get ocular migraines (aura & weird vision, but minimal headache) that respond well to painkillers.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2001 at 6:19PM
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I get these same headaches every month just before TOM arrives. As a matter of fact I had one over the weekend that lasted 2 days. The first day that it hit I took 2 Aleve and 1 Advil Cold & Sinus tablet and laid down to rest for about an hour. This got rid of most of the pain but I still had some pressure which I still had into the next morning when I woke up. As soon as I got up I took 2 more Aleve and another Advil C & S. This really helps to relieve my symptoms.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2001 at 10:54AM
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Happy to report that non-drowsy formula antihistamine worked great, finally that headache is gone!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2001 at 4:59PM
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Actually, caffeine shrinks the blood vessels back down (constricts them). Migraines are when those blood vessels are swollen up. Some people get migraines from coffee due to food allergies; some others feel relief from caffeine due to the shrinking back down of the blood vessels.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2001 at 8:12PM
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Oops, thanks Jo Jo, I got it backwards! Thanks

    Bookmark   December 18, 2001 at 8:30AM
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Who can think forwards when having a migraine! hahaha

Speaking of which, I've had a bad one for 3 days now. YUCK! It's starting to back down some this afternoon. I hope it goes the heck away. I don't know if it's food allergy or hormones (but I think probably both).


    Bookmark   December 18, 2001 at 7:19PM
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I, too, suffer fromt he same "monthly" migraines, even though I don't get the "monthly" period. I am on HRT and I have had to resort to some of the new migraine meds to get relief, such as zomig, amerge or imatrex. I try to use the liqui-gel advil first, because the other pills are around 22 dollars a pill (that's about a quarter in American dollars). My daughter seems to be starting into 16 year old's migraines at the onset of her periods. I am sorry to have passed this on to her. I am finding that the frequency is somewhat decreasing as time goes on. I hope this helps.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2001 at 6:04AM
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Oh my! that is Exactly the headache I get. I started getting them over 10 years ago, 3 days every month right before my period. Now I get them when I ovulate - ugh! I have tried the coffee trick, helps just a tad, tried the Excedrine migraine, no help and other various migraine remedies. Since these are hormonal I would suspect that they don't respond to the regular migraine "cures." One thing that seems to help me is midol - go figure! I don't know why it seems to work for me but it does!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2001 at 12:25PM
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Andierut, I have been cursed with headaches ever since my periods became irregular about 3 years ago. I have them alot, but mostly around my period (or when I'm supposed to have a period, but don't). I have Fibromyalgia, which confuses the issues. I decided to come off my HRT about a month and a half ago.......I wanted to see if it helped my Fibromyalgia to be off. Well, my headaches, nausea and dizziness are out of control. I keep hoping my ovaries will just finally burn out, and I'll be able to stabilize.......but so far, they're still hangin' on. I put my combi-patch back on yesterday.....I just can't take all these headaches and dizziness. I'm just praying it helps. It's very hard to live life, with all these headaches. And sometimes, it feels just like a sinus abcess.....but it's just the hormones, weaving their "magic" on my brain vessels, I'm sure. Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2001 at 11:50AM
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What has worked for me is getting my previously undiagnosed hypothyroidism diagnosed and treated with a T3 T4 combo replacement (Thyrolar). Natural dessicated thyroid is best for most people and was/is my choice but my doctor refused/s to prescribe. Possibly time to fire him. And prescription natural progesterone. The one I found (there are more) and asked to have prescribed was Prometrium. The gynecologist (she) was ready to put me on synthetic estrogen and progestogens (birth control), but as I had done my homework I was able to choose natural replacement...therefore no side effects.

Note: The general doctor sent me to the gynecologist. He was expecting I needed a D&C or worse. She listened to me and allowed me to assist in my healing.

No more headaches. Progesterone (natural) alone may be helpful because often hypothyroidism (or its symptoms)is caused by estrogen dominance. However untreated hypothyroidism causes estrogen dominance. Therefore you may need the thyroid treated as well as progesterone support.

Read The Estrogen Alternative by Raquel Martin. Borrow from your library or ask for interlibrary loan if they don't have it or the books I listed below. The author had severe perimenopausal symptoms and used HRT, no relief, but kept searching, found NHRT and had all her symptoms relieved. Others encouraged her to write this book with extensive medical input and research from physicians, biologists, etc. It covers every question you may have and many you wouldn't have thought of. I bought this book used.

You can read sample pages at for this book and perhaps others mentioned.

Also read Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness by Broda O. Barnes Excellent, suggested to me by Dr. Peat. I read this from our local library and then purchased my own copy.

Both have websites if you search for them.

This site is invaluable Read ALL articles, especially don't miss the ones on menopause.

See if your library has Dr. Peat's book Progesterone in Orthomolecular Medicine Scientist who has studied women's hormones for over 30 years. Also counseled many women and a few men with his findings and they experienced relief from hormone imbalance symptoms. Dr. John Lee got his information from one of Dr. Peat's lectures many years ago. Time has only proven the validity of the research he has conducted and others. All Dr. Peat's articles have extensive references...sometimes more pages than the article. I have one of Dr. Lee's books, Menopause, but I prefer the others I have listed to his. It's still a good book for starters. It lists many places to get natural progesterone....Not just his product.

I have all but one of Dr. Peat's books available from the website. Used to take the newsletter, but quit as I had not budgeted for renewal.

See also a recent addition to my favorite websites
Another been there/done that author who was encouraged to share her research on NHRT. She also has a book, either e-book or hardcopy paperback. The purchase of e-book allows for continuous update. You can read samples at the site. I have not purchased either.

If you have skin that looks like it belongs on a 70 year old, don't walk to the nearest doctor who believes that hypothyroidism exists in over 40 percent of the population and will also prescribe or at least support your use of natural progesterone.

My skin looks like it belongs on me now...age 46. My hands, that for the last 10 years were winter dry and cracked year round, are almost clear now since starting replacement the first week of September 2001. And it's 30 degrees outside. No gloves, no problems. Wow!

I know this is past information overload, but...

    Bookmark   December 31, 2001 at 7:47PM
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I too got the hormonal migranes and even tho I havent had a period for almost a year, I occassionally get a migraine. Mine could last for 2-3 days and no amt of Ibroprofen would help. Then a friend told me to try "Dristan Sinus" and it really does help. It is about the only sinus headache medicine that has Ibroprofen in it, all the other brands have the tylenol(which is like sugar pills for me). The only place that I can seem to find it is at Rite Aid on the bottom shelf. I take 2 and then one reg. Ibroprofen and usually within a hr or 2 my headache has really eased up.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2002 at 12:31AM
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I've gotten migraines for the past 17 years, all mostly hormonally linked. Imitrex is really the only thing that has really zapped almost each and every headache. I have tried everything from No caffeine to extra caffeine, watching food, etc. I do take B6 and 500mg. of magnesium as studies have shown a 50% decrease in the amount, stregnth, and duration of headaches after placebos were compared with migraine sufferers. (This was in the New England Journal of Med.- my dad is a Dr. and gets it) I had a hysterectomy 2 years ago and have lowered my estrogen to .625 and that has helped, but I still get migraines occasionally. Who knows why. So, when I do I take Imitrex(100 mg. worth.. it comes in 25, 50 and 100mg tablets. I have found that either 50 or 100mg. is really the only amount that really works- at least for me) and my life is back to normal in an hour or so. Just thought I'd throw that in the mix. :) If your gynocologist thinks it would be safe for you, maybe you ought to give it a try. Good Luck Andierut!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2002 at 10:21PM
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A follow up to my last Post. Imitrex does work well for me, but I'm trying to not to take it too often- so because I'm still getting quite a few headaches I'm trying to see if maybe there is another Hormone that will work better for me. (I'm taking Cenestin .625 1x dy.) If you get headaches daily, your Dr. might want to try something that helps level out your hormones. But if you need something to have on those bad days, definately try one of the new migraine medicines. Good Luck!! Kristy

    Bookmark   January 7, 2002 at 2:36PM
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I am 46 and have had peri-menapausal sxs for the past 10 years. It started with headaches. Imetrex works for me, but our medical insurance will no longer pay for it...does anyone have any suggestions on what to take for head-aches that comes close to Imetrex, but not so expensive?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2003 at 4:39PM
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Delora, at the very first sign, and I mean the VERY first sign of one of these nasty headaches, I take 4 Advil caplets and wash them down with a can of Coke (I get upset stomach with the headache and the Coke helps; also it has caffeine). Avoid bright light and noise as much as possible. I find if this doesn't work, then I'm just going to have to suck it up, or worst case, go to bed.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2003 at 8:43AM
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Whoa...I had one of these yesterday. I am 49 and have had regular periods and no symptoms of menopause that I was aware of. However I'm now about 6 days late and yesterday I had the killer headache from hell. Took 2 advil and lay down in a dark cool room for 2 hours for it to go away. I never thought it might have been a perimenopausal thing, but it makes sense. I used to get headaches a lot when I was younger, but haven't since I quit working in a stressful environment.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2003 at 3:57PM
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Hi, I get intermittent migraines very seldom, but they are massive when they happen. Terrible aura first...flashing zigzag pattern if eyes are open or closed, naseous oftentimes. My jaw even goes numb and my left arm and my speech can slur. The only thing I've ever done other than sleep it off is drink something with caffeine, eat chocolate and stand under a shower and let it hit my head for as long as over the counter medicine can touch the pain when it comes. I would love to take something prescription wise, but the last time I went to a doctor about a headache they put me in the hospital for three days, several tests and a lot of money afterwards I was told I had "classic" migraines. The only good thing is I rarely get them and don't really have them touched off by hormones. Light is usually the culprit in my case.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2003 at 3:54PM
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I had terrible "sinus" headaches for years and did not realize it was caused by the HRT I was taking. When I quit taking those synthetic hormones I didn't have a headache for a full year!!!!! I had never realized it was caused by those drugs!

Popcornhazel is right - the Natural Progesterone smooths out and balances the estrogen in the body. As the body never stops making estrogen, it does stop making progesterone!

I would have recommended the Natural Progesterone Cream myself! I have heard people tell me it has stopped their headaches too!


    Bookmark   November 27, 2003 at 4:50PM
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I've suffered from hormonal headaches for 17 years. Sure wish "modern" science was more helpful, I've found out most of what helps by reading on my own. I think each person's case is different, so it helps to try different ideas. Also, stick with a treatment for a couple of months at least, some take longer to work than others. For me, these are the helpful hints.
#1 - This is KEY. Take whatever pain killers you use at the very first sign that a headache is coming on. Take a moderate amount. DO NOT wait until the headache is bad before you take any pain killers. This strategy will avoid you having to take huge doses of painkillers that won't work when the headache has gotten to the problem stage. Then you will get on a roller coaster of painkillers and you will always have a low grade headache. This is called "rebound" headaches. Use over the counter painkillers to nip headaches in the bud, not tame a roaring one. Try to avoid getting the roaring ones.
#2 - Eat small meals regularly to keep blood sugar level. Never eat sweets or refined carbohydrates alone, always have carbs with protein
#3 - Watch your trigger foods. For me it is red wine. I can have one glass but not two.
#4 - Watch your salt intake. Low salt is very important.
#5 - Caffeine boosts the effectiveness of painkillers. It also upsets your stomach and makes you jittery. A little is good, a lot is bad.
#6 - Having regular routines helps. Especially regular sleep hours.
#7 - Thyroid can play a role, especially if you're having trouble sleeping. If you're tired all the time and having sleep irregularities, have your thyroid level checked. It doesn't give me headaches, but it made fighting them harder for me until I was diagnosed.
#8 - My personal theory is that prostglandins contribute to headaches. If you are having bad menstural cramps, try and get those under control and your headaches may not be as bad. Try herbal teas for cramps before your period, and with phytoestrogens when it starts to taper off.
#9 - I suppose exercise would be a real help, but that's a hard one for me.
#10 - Try some of the new headache drugs. Imitrex pills were just sweet tarts to me, but the nasal spray works fairly well to take the edge off the worst ones. It's pricey though, so I try 1-9 first. If you can't afford Imitrex, try Vanquish, or for something cheap, take asprin 250 mg and acetomyaphin 250 mg with some coffee or coke. Don't start with 500 mg., this is for EMERGENCIES only. The best thing to do is start with a half dose at the first sign of a headache, and if that doesn't nip it in the bud quickly, then add the extra pill. I have both regular strenght and extra strength versions of asprin and acetomyaphen, (sorry, I have no idea how to spell the generic tylenol drug) so I can adjust my doses so I don't take more than I need to. If you're allergic to asprin or acetomyaphen, then just take one or the other. If they don't work for you, try a non-steroidal pain killer like advil or motrin. Watch how much of these things you take, because they are bad for your tummy and bad for your kidneys, and probably bad for a whole lot of other things. A little is good, a lot is bad.
#11 - At the first sign of a roaring migrane coming on, arrange your schedule to get the quiet and rest you need. Don't try to be a hero or superwoman. You will only prolong your agony. Abort all non-essential missions, take a time out, and then pick up things with gusto once the headache passes.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 6:15PM
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Andierut's original post was more than 2 years ago. I wonder how she's doing?
I've had migraines since I was 17 (really started at 8), but they didn't occur too often......until I started perimenopause and was put on HRT. Fioricet worked wonders for me......but I got somewhat "addicted" to it, and had to quit taking it. Fioricet is phenobarb and caffeine. I substituted Exedrine Free for it, and it helped alot. Exedrine Free is Tylenol and caffeine. It's the only caffeine I would take, so it really worked well for me. I had chronic daily headaches for a year and a half. It was totally ruining my life. I found taking 1 Exedrine Free every day kept them from happening. I think some of us have spastic arteries and veins, and are extremely sensitive to any dilation of them...... That's why the Exedrine (caffeine) worked so well. sort of was addicting, in that if I tried to NOT take one, I would get a horrible headache.
I would take Maxalt for the really bad ones......which was really hard on me. Some people can't take it 'cause of the muscle aches it can cause......but muscle aches are better than a migraine!
After 6 years of these almost constant headaches, I was put on Toprol LX for my blood pressure, and guess what?? I haven't had a bad headache since (and that's been about a year and a half ago!). I had heard that beta blockers help some headache-sufferers, but I have fibromyalgia with incredible fatigue, and I'd heard that a side-effect of beta blockers is I refused to try them. But when I had to treat my high blood pressure, I found out that Toprol LX took care of those horrible headaches too!! gave some great tips. I used to be on a headache forum on, and it helped alot to talk with others about this horrible problem.
I haven't had a period for a year......but I don't know if I'd still have the headaches or not, since I'm still on Toprol. I'm 54. Several women on the headache forum have hormonal migraines, and it's awful for them. Some of them are in their late 30's and early 40's. I'm thankful that I'm 54, and hopefully, will soon "grow out" of some of the bad things that have happened while going through menopause.
Andierut.....I hope you're over the worst of yours.
Hahaha.....I was watching Life with Bonnie a few weeks ago, and her son said something about his mom having problems 'cause she was going through "mentalpause"......hahaha.....yep, I've been going through mentalpause too!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2004 at 9:05AM
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I'm in perimenopause; I know exactly when my period is coming because I get a wicked headache the day before. I'm going to start a journal to see if my other symptoms (moodiness, exhaustion) have a pattern.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 9:02AM
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