Q: What happens to migraine during menopause?
A: Menopause and migraine sometimes go well in that migraine attacks decrease in frequency after menopause in most women. However, in some women the frequency of attacks increases in the years preceding menopause.
Q: Why does migraine change with menopause?
A: In the years preceding menopause, migraine attacks can be triggered by changes in estrogen levels just as they are in menstrual migraine. Estrogen plays a significant role in brain cell function, probably as a result of its effect on the brain chemical serotonin. Decreased levels of estrogen at menopause cause symptoms similar to those related to low levels of serotonin. Along with migraine attacks, anxiety and sleep disruption occur.
Q: Does migraine get better in a woman after menopause?
A: Not every woman who has migraine has a decrease in attacks after menopause, especially if the earlier attacks were frequent and not associated with menstruation. Migraine may get worse over time if attacks are not controlled or if certain medications are overused, leading to medication overuse headache. It is important that migraine be treated with a comprehensive approach instead of waiting for menopause to bring relief.
Q: If I have migraine can I use hormone therapy (HT)?
A: Hormone therapy for menopause is not a simple answer for migraine since estrogen replacement carries with it the risk of other medical problems. Hormone therapy must be discussed with your doctor before starting treatment. Migraine during menopause should be treated in the same way as at any other time during life.
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