Migraines and the Menstrual Cycle

The New York Times

July 28, 2010, 4:03 pm

Several readers had questions for the Consults blog about hormones and migraines. Here, Dr. David Dodick of the Mayo Clinic responds to one reader who wondered if birth control pills can prevent migraines tied to the menstrual cycle.


Dr. Dodick — I have been getting non-aura migraines since childhood, around the time my menstrual cycle began. I cut out caffeine, chocolate and red wine in my mid-20s but continue to have migraines once a month in conjunction with my cycle. I am curious if taking a birth control pill that limits the number of periods will also lessen the frequency of migraines?
Lauren, Austin


Dr. David Dodick of the Mayo Clinic responds:

Menstruation is a very common and powerful trigger in women who suffer from migraine. There is evidence — and it has certainly been my experience with patients — that in some women, these attacks are also more severe and last longer than those attacks that occur outside the menstrual period. By definition, attacks of migraine that are triggered by menstruation occur within two days prior and three days after the onset of menstrual flow.


Balancing the hormones is another effective way of taking care of migraine headaches without adding synthetic hormones (BCP’s) to your body.


Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.