Did you know about 75% of all chronic headaches are suffered by women? This information is according to statistics provided by the US National Headaches Foundation. The distinction between the number of females and males who experience headaches is underlined by one factor: hormones.
The Relationship Between Hormones and Headaches
Every person in the world has hormones. Hormones are the compounds that are responsible for almost all impulses that related to pain in the body. Some hormones induce pain reception by the cells in our bodies. Different hormones enhance these responses while others transmit pain signals to the brain.
Men and women have different dominant hormones. While men have testosterone, women have estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone and estrogen are the hormones in the female body that control the brain’s reception of pain signals.
During certain periods in a woman’s life, the levels of these two hormones will vary considerably. These times are when a woman has her menstrual cycle, experiences menopause or is pregnant. Estrogen and progesterone levels spike and fall during these times. When a woman has high levels of these hormones, she will feel euphoric. On the other hand, when the levels of these hormones become too low a woman begins experiencing symptoms such as headaches or migraines. This is because reduced levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease the hormone endorphin’s ability to hinder the brain from responding to all forms of pain. The headaches caused by lowered levels of female hormones are known as hormonal headaches.
Signs of Hormonal Headaches
A physician may give a hormonal headache diagnosis if a woman frequently gets migraines or headaches about two days before her menses begin. These headaches are typically the lone symptom of hormonal headaches, but at times they may be accompanied by other signs. These additional symptoms include fatigue and poor sleeping patterns, slight tiredness, facial acne, intense cravings especially for red wine, alcohol, and salt, and dizzy spells.
Controlling Hormonal Headaches
Hormonal headaches are controlled in different ways depending on the woman’s medical history. Some ways of preventing and managing hormonal headaches include:
- Natural Methods – A woman with hormonal headaches can reduce the pain and frequency of a headache through her diet. Eating healthy foods and drinking lots of water while avoiding processed meats, overly salty or sugary foods, and red wine helps balance hormone levels in the body. Additionally, getting massages or taking up relaxation exercises like yoga and meditation reduces the tension thereby relieving some of the pain caused by the headaches. If the headaches persist, staying in a dark room and using a cold compress on the side of the head that aches could help.
- Medication – Medication is used to reduce the intensity of hormonal headaches. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen make the headaches bearable, and triptans shrink blood vessels to produce a similar effect. NSAIDs are taken when the headaches occur while triptans are ingested from 1-2 days before menstruation until the cycle ends. Supplements rich in magnesium can also be used to even out hormonal levels in women.
- Hormone Balancing – Hormonal headaches are caused by extremely low hormone levels in women. Therefore, they can be managed by balancing these levels. One way to do this is through taking hormone replacement therapy. This treatment comes in estrogen pills and patches and is used mainly by women who are past menopause. Women who have not reached menopause can use oral contraceptives to balance their estrogen and progesterone levels.
For more information on hormone replacement therapy contact Metro MediSpa at 888-637-7228 or 910-599-9925.