For migraine headaches, the link with the pill has long been recognized, and most migraine sufferers are advised to avoid the combined estrogen pill, especially because the pill carries a higher stroke risk for migraine-sufferers than it does for other women. Progestin-only methods can sometimes give relief from migraines because they flatten hormones but they can also worsen migraines in some cases.
For non-migraine headaches, the advice is less clear. “Headaches are probably from the estrogen,” say some sources and “should lessen over time.” Except that for many women, pill-induced headaches don’t lessen over time. And progestin-only methods such as the hormonal IUD and the mini-pill can also be a problem. “Daily headaches from the arm implant,” observed by one of our patients about headaches and birth control, and her experience is backed by the little bit of research that’s actually looked into as progestin-induced headaches.
Tip: If you develop a new throbbing type of headache on the Mirena IUD, it could be a condition called intracranial hypertension which can occur with Mirena.
So, what can you do if you suspect your headaches are from birth control? The first step is to just try stopping it. If you’re like many of my patients and readers, your headaches could dramatically improve within a few weeks. And if you need alternative birth control and/or period treatment, please feel free to reach out to me at the clinic for a free consult.
And if you experience hormonal headaches that are not from the pill, here are a few tips:
Natural Treatment of Hormonal Headaches and Migraines
- Reduce estrogen excess because premenstrual migraines are triggered by a drop in estrogen. Calcium D-Glucarate is one of the the best supplement for reducing estrogen. Addressing histamine intolerance can also be helpful.
- Take magnesium, which improves migraines by calming the nervous system, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing serotonin receptors. Magnesium also prevents the release of substance-P, which is the pain-promoting neurotransmitter involved in migraines. A 2016 meta-analysis supports the use of magnesium for migraine prevention.
- Consider avoiding wheat or gluten to reduce the inflammation that drives migraines. One study found that avoiding wheat eliminated migraines in 89 percent of patients.
- Consider taking melatonin, which has outperformed conventional migraine medication in at least one clinical trial.
- Consider taking vitamin B2, which reduces migraines by normalizing the production of serotonin and improving the function of the MTHFR gene, which has been linked to migraines.
- Seriously consider taking micronized or natural progesterone, which shelters the brain from the migraine-triggering drop in estrogen. With my migraine patients, I have found natural progesterone to be highly effective and works best as a capsule works rather than a cream. The standard dosing is to take it at bedtime during the final two weeks of the menstrual cycle and continue it until day 2 or 3 of the next cycle, past the “danger-window” for migraines.
Tip: Post- menstrual migraines or end-menstrual migraines are not triggered by hormones like premenstrual migraines. Instead, end-menstrual migraines are triggered by the brief iron-deficiency anemia due to menstrual blood loss. The best treatment is to take iron.
If you are struggling with migraine headaches and believe it may be related to your birth control and would like more information, click the link below.
Need more personalized help with your birth-control and migraines? Contact me for a consultation.