While men also get headaches, women report them at a far more frequent rate. And, often, hormones are to blame, says Marla Ahlgrimm. Keep reading for a quick Q&A on headaches and hormones.
Q: Why are women more prone to headaches than men?
Marla Ahlgrimm: It has a lot to do with the way that our hormones fluctuate each month. Women still in their childbearing years see their estrogen and progesterone levels wane and rise throughout their menstrual cycle. This can trigger headaches, fatigue, and other side-effects associated with PMS.
Q: Are migraines common in menstruating women?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes, and hormones are to blame here as well. A sharp drop in estrogen in the days leading up to a woman’s period can trigger migraines.
Q: How do you treat a headache?
Marla Ahlgrimm: There are many different ways to find relief. One is using ice against the areas of the head most affected. Many women also choose, at their doctor’s advice, to take an over-the-counter pain reliever or anti-inflammatory. Biofeedback, which is a therapy method that helps you monitor your body’s response to stress, may also be effective. Relaxation exercises, such as yoga and meditation, have also proven successful in easing headache and migraine symptoms.
Marla Ahlgrimm: Not always. However, if your headaches are directly related to your hormones, using birth control pills or other hormone-based contraceptive methods may help. These allow you to control how much of each hormone is in your body, which may prevent many occurrences. Women undergoing menopause may find that hormone replacement therapy is their best weapon against headaches.