The Connection Between Hormones and Headaches

Estrogen is one of the hormones most linked to headaches. This is why headaches may appear when the menstrual period approaches. Continue reading to find out more!
The Connection Between Hormones and Headaches

Written by Carmen Martín

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Headaches are a common symptom of various conditions and hormonal imbalances are one of the causes. Almost any disease can manifest through this kind of pain, be it a cold or a vision problem. Today’s article will discuss their relationship with hormones.

Many people ignore it, but hormonal imbalances can trigger many discomforts, especially in women. This is because their hormones fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, which lasts about 28 days.

Similarly, they also vary according to the stage of life. The most important hormones in women are estrogen and progesterone.

Continue reading to find out their relationship with headaches and what to do about them.

The relationship between hormones and headaches

Scientists have been able to prove that certain headaches are more frequent in women than in men through various studies. Specifically, women are more prone to migraines and tension headaches.

Migraines are severe throbbing headaches usually felt on one side of the skull. This pain may present with other symptoms such as sensitivity to light and nausea.

In turn, tension headaches cause a more widespread headache. It can be difficult to differentiate it from migraine, but there are some distinctions. For example, migraines are often worsened by exercise, while tension headaches aren’t.

The fact that both types of pain are more frequent in women points to the fact that there’s a hormonal component. Moreover, this hypothesis strengthens by the fact that most women tend to experience them during their menstrual cycle.

Interestingly, most of these types of pain appear just before their period. This is due to the drop in estrogen levels at the end of the menstrual cycle.

A woman with a headaches.

Hormones and headaches

While it’s true that most women experience these headaches just before menstruation, there are variations. In some cases, the headache appears days before. In others, it predominates throughout the entire period.

This also varies according to the woman’s age and the incidence of headaches increases as menopause approaches. This occurs because estrogen levels fluctuate significantly during this stage.

The intensity of this symptom can be quite disabling. Note that hormonal variations often cause other symptoms as well, belly pain and mood swings among them. For this reason, you must do what you can to reduce the discomfort if you’re afflicted by them.

How to treat these headaches

There are treatments for hormone-related headaches; in fact, there are many effective ones out there. Keep in mind that they must be adjusted and tailored to every woman and her individual needs. Some of them are:

  • Applying ice to the area.
  • Doing relaxation exercises.

Painkillers are the most recommended, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in particular. For example, they can take ibuprofen preventively, that is before there’s any pain.

Antimigraine Drug headache

Hormonal contraceptives

These help women reduce hormone fluctuations and either decrease the intensity of headaches or make them less frequent. The most commonly used contraceptives are in the form of pills, patches, and vaginal rings.

However, the effect of contraceptives depends on the woman and they don’t work for many of them. Other recommended measures are avoiding stress, excess caffeine, and smoking as these apparently worsen the pain.

Oral contraceptives are a powerful pharmacological tool to control hormone-induced headaches.

In conclusion

Headaches have a strong relationship with hormones, especially in women. The fact that estrogen concentration varies during the menstrual cycle is definitely tied to this symptom.

Every woman experiences headaches in her own way. Moreover, not all respond equally to the same treatment. This is why it’s important to consult a doctor and to be aware that no remedy can cure all cases.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.