Because Menstruation Itself Isn’t Enough

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


Do you get headaches at “that” time of the month?  I never used to but as I’ve gotten older, they’ve developed and will typically last for a full three days before dissipating.  It’s annoying and frustrating, especially given my travel schedule.  I don’t have the ability to call in sick and I can tell you this:  traveling or teaching with a splitting headache is not a good time.  Even if you don’t have my schedule, headaches can disrupt your sleep, work, and relationships.  There can be a number of reasons why we get these monthly headaches and I want to share this synopsis of an article written and published by the Women’s Health Network.


Headaches can be caused by hormonal, adrenal, or thyroid imbalance.

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HORMONAL IMBALANCE:  “We know that headaches can often arise during periods of shifting hormones, including the days leading up to your menstrual period, or the time leading up to menopause. Generally speaking, hormonal headaches occur due to imbalanced levels between estrogen and progesterone. This is why many women notice headaches right before their periods when progesterone naturally dips.

Progesterone can also drop during perimenopause (the period leading up to menopause) making some women, who have never experienced menstrual headaches, to suddenly begin experiencing them.”

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ADRENAL IMBALANCE:  “If your headaches arise with the onset of stress or after a sugar/caffeine ‘crash’, that might indicated an adrenal imbalance.  It’s extremely common for women with adrenal imbalance to get in the habit of using sugar and caffeine to spark the energy they need to get through the day. This vicious circle can leave the body depleted and cause headaches. Adrenal headaches may also come with other symptoms like light-headedness upon standing, fatigue, or salt cravings.”


Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 9.35.35 PMTHYROID IMBALANCE:  “If you’ve recently noticed that you have chronic headaches or migraines, they could be related to a thyroid imbalance. Daily persistent headaches related to thyroid tend to bother both sides of the head and have a pressing or tightening quality. They generally aren’t made worse by physical activity, but can be aggravated by intense light or sound. You may find that your thyroid-related headaches occur in conjunction with cold intolerance, skin issues, loss of energy, constipation, and/or fluid retention.”


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Figure it out.  Instead of (or maybe even in addition to, for a little while) merely popping Ibuprofen or Excedrin, for the rest of your life, the best thing you can do to try to figure out your headaches, is to buy a notebook and begin tracking them.  Write down all of the details:  When did you get the headache?  What did you eat just prior to the headache starting?  What was your stress level on that day/time?  How much sleep did you have the night before?  How much coffee and/or sugar prior to?  After tracking for a while, you may see patterns emerge.  It’s helpful to share this information with your doctor too.  Best case scenario, you can determine why you’re getting the headaches and find a solution for relieving, and possibly preventing, them.”

Find someone to help you.  My primary care provider had no answers for me, and refused to approve me for lab work or thyroid testing. I paid, out of my own pocket, for the tests and a private doctor.

In the meantime, please remember, “If you develop a serious and sudden headache that feels unbearable, check with your doctor right away, as this can be a sign of a serious health issue.”

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