The right balance of hormones dictates a person's quality of life. As soon as something is off, you can experience all types of symptoms with different intensities. Even a slight change in estrogen or progesterone levels could cause a headache.
In the United States, headaches result in 112 million sick days annually. Women tend to suffer from headaches more than men do. They occur due to the fluctuations in the levels of estrogen.
When a headache hits, it's impossible to think about anything except "make it go away, please." Let's take a closer look at what hormonal headaches are as well as effective ways to stop and prevent them.
Why Do You Get Headaches When the Menstrual Cycle Starts?
Menstrual-related migraines are the most common type of hormonal headaches. They usually start about two days before the period and can last for two to three days after the menstruation begins.
Just before your period starts, estrogen levels drop. This could cause severe headaches that disrupt your everyday activities. In fact, more than half of women who suffer from migraines notice their link to the menstrual cycle.
While your period is the most common trigger of hormonal headaches, other causes of such symptoms include:
- Birth control pills — While hormonal oral contraceptives can regulate your periods and alleviate many unpleasant symptoms associated with them, they can also worsen headaches. So if you've noticed an increase in migraines after starting the pill, it could be the culprit.
- Perimenopause and menopause — During this period, levels of estrogen can wildly fluctuate and eventually drop. This could lead to severe headaches and migraines, which coupled with other unpleasant symptoms, worsen the quality of life dramatically.
- Hormone replacement therapy — Pills women take to regulate their hormone levels during menopause may also worsen headaches. It's imperative to speak to your doctor to adjust the dosage in order to minimize this side effect.
If you experience a severe headache before your period or several days after it begins, it's likely to be a menstrual migraine. While waiting it out or taking NSAIDs is a common strategy women choose, it's not always the right one. With numerous remedies available, it simply doesn't make sense to suffer.
What do Hormonal Headaches Feel Like?
Hormonal headaches are hard to miss. They may last for as long as 72 hours. The symptoms of a hormonal headache or migraine can include:
- Head pain
- Throbbing pain on one side of the head
- Nausea and vomiting
- Aura (vision changes and tingling on hands and face)
- Light, smell, and sound sensitivity
Additionally, you can have such symptoms as:
- Sweating and chills
- Joint pain
- Decreased urination
- Bigger appetite or a loss of it
- Cravings for certain food like chocolate
- Mood swings
- Problems with coordination
Tension headaches may produce similar symptoms. However, they are also associated with a feeling of a tight band around your head while migraines feel more like throbbing and pounding.
To check if the headaches you are getting are related to hormones, you can consider keeping a symptom diary for several months. If you discover a link, this diary can help you find the point of the cycle when you start getting headaches. This information can be helpful when setting up treatment.
What Vitamin Deficiencies Cause Headaches?
Hormonal headaches aren't always severe. However, they may be worsened by vitamin deficiencies. The combination of an estrogen level drop and a vitamin deficiency causes serious pain that lasts for days.
- Vitamin D — Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common issues people face, especially if they live without regular exposure to sunlight. In fact, more than 42% of Americans suffer from this deficiency. The lack of sufficient levels of vitamin D can cause headaches and other unpleasant symptoms.
- Magnesium — Research found a correlation between magnesium deficiency and headaches. The causes of this deficiency vary. Some people may not get enough magnesium from food while others lose it due to medical conditions. Besides headaches, a magnesium deficiency could cause muscle cramps, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, asthma, and more.
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) — This vitamin helps your cells function properly. The deficiency could lead to headaches, migraines, reproductive problems, stomatitis, sore throat, hair loss, and more. According to research, high doses of riboflavin can prevent headaches.
Another important deficiency that could lead to headaches isn't related to vitamins. It's an H2O deficiency. Dehydration is a common problem, which busy women often overlook. Meanwhile, the lack of water could lead to severe headaches. If you are too busy to remember drinking water, consider setting up reminders on your smartphone or laptop.
What Vitamins Help Headaches?
If you experience a vitamin deficiency, your body may feel ok at first. However, with time, it's likely to produce disturbing symptoms, which in turn could reflect on your daily activities. If you suffer from headaches, you could consider adding the following vitamins to your diet:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B6
While it's possible to get these vitamins from foods, not too many busy women manage to eat balanced meals. That's why you may want to consider taking supplements.
Does Vitamin D Help with Headaches?
If your headaches are caused by vitamin D deficiency, adding more vitamin D to your diet and taking recommended supplements can be the key to relieving the symptoms.
While more research needs to be done on the subject, existing studies show that taking vitamin D can reduce the frequency of migraines, even in patients who don't have a deficiency. However, it's important to watch the dosage in order to avoid a vitamin D overdose.
Does Magnesium Help with Headaches?
Studies show that taking magnesium can help prevent headaches. According to the American Migraine Foundation, 400 – 500 mg of magnesium oxide supplement daily can contribute to migrate prevention. This dosage is also safe during pregnancy.
Can B12 Deficiency Cause Headaches?
A human body doesn't produce B12 naturally, so you need to get it from food and supplements. The lack of B12 causes anemia, which in turn can result in headaches.
Other symptoms of B12 deficiency include pale skin, mouth ulcers, irritability, anxiety, depression, and problems with vision.
How Do You Get Rid of Hormonal Headaches?
Even if they don't come often, hormonal headaches can easily poison your existence. Here are a few things you can do to help:
- Adjust your diet to introduce as many helpful vitamins as possible.
- Consider taking supplements to prevent vitamin deficiencies.
- Lead an active lifestyle.
- Drink sufficient amounts of water. Check out ZeroWater's 5-stage Pitchers and Dispensers to always have filtered water on hand!
Prevention is the key to getting rid of hormonal headaches. However, if they persist, talk to your doctor about medication (triptans, antidepressants, blood pressure meds, etc.) or an estrogen patch.
Battling Hormonal Headaches with BINTO
If you are suffering from hormonal headaches, your life can be miserable. Waiting this condition out, especially if it comes in a form of a severe migraine, isn't an option. Supplements can help you prevent and treat hormonal headaches while improving your quality of life.
At BINTO, we have a wide variety of supplements created specifically for women who battle hormonal headaches. Our team can design a personalized kit for each woman to help her forget about the pain and enjoy a headache-free life.