Inside PMS Book

How to Deal With Menstrual Headaches

Do you struggle with menstrual headaches?

Do you have these headaches before, during or after menstruation?

headacheWhat are your symptoms and are these usually migraine headaches?

If so how do you get rid of them and what kind of remedies do you use?

What causes them and how long do they last?

These and other questions will be addressed here.

Symptoms and Causes of Period Headaches

So what are the symptoms and causes of these headaches?

Do you ask “Why do I get these terrible headaches?”

If your headaches are actually during your period rather than premenstrual cycle, there are different causes and perhaps symptoms for them. In order to understand let’s look at the cycle itself.

Premenstrual (pms): This stage lasts for two to three weeks prior to actually beginning the period of bleeding.

Stage One: This is the Follicular stage when estrogen is increased and lining of the uterus thickens.

Stage Two: This is the Luteal stage when estrogen is decreased and progesterone is increased.

Period: This is the stage of bleeding where the uterine lining, eggs and water is expelled.

Post Menstrual: Some women have symptoms for one to two weeks following the cessation of bleeding.

Various stages in the menstrual cycle are responsible for various symptoms and will respond differently to a potential cure or means to alleviate the symptoms. Many women experience fever and nausea along with the headaches. There can also be a lot of tension during the cycle that can cause these severe headaches as well.

The overwhelming majority of women experience headaches related to their menstrual cycle. The number may be as high as 65-70% of all women have this issue. Headaches tend to show up in the second and third stages of the cycle and can be at their worst right at the end of the Luteal stage before the actual bleeding begins.

The main causes for these headaches is usually vascular constriction and that is in itself caused by high levels of estrogen and they decrease when there is more progesterone than estrogen. This is why some women who take birth control pills with high amounts of estrogen experience more headaches than those that do not or those who take pills with less estrogen and more progesterone.

Another less known cause of these headaches is malfunctioning platelets along with a reduction in endorphins being released into the brain and lower magnesium levels. These factors can cause depression, moodiness and headaches. In addition the prostaglandins and arachidonic acid that is produced during the first and second stages of the cycle add to the headaches during and post period. Some women also have unusual nervous system response to these changes and they therefore feel more pain that others whether it be headaches or abdominal pain or even back pain.

Fortunately there are things you can do to prevent, avoid and relieve some of these headaches. Many women are asking every month what can I do for these headaches or what can I take for them? What works best to stop the headaches and give some relief?

Remedies and Treatments for Menstrual Headaches

Pharmaceutical Remedies: There are not a lot of pharmaceutical remedies whether they are prescription of over the counter. However there are a few if you choose to use pharmaceuticals.

The best over the counter (OTC) medications available are analgesics in general and medications made specifically for a woman’s menstrual cycle symptoms. The medication made for the menstrual cycle that can be effective for headaches includes:

Pamprin and Midol: Both of these should be taken during the PMS part of the cycle and then if needed continued throughout the cycle. Both of these will assist in the control of cramping, bloating, fever, or mood changes also associated with the cycle. In addition to these you have all the OTC analgesics/NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as acetaminophen/ibuprofen/naproxen and others.

The prescription medications used for this are also the NSAIDS with the most commonly prescribed for menstrual headaches being Naprosyn, Orudis, Relefen, Nalfon, Motrin or Advil. Diuretics have also been used along with other prescription drugs such as Verapamil, Migranal, Depakote, Propranolol and Cafergot. NSAIDS are the primary drug of choice for most physicians who are going to prescribe for menstrual headaches.

None of these medications will treat the causes of the migraine or menstrual headache. They can only treat the symptoms and they cannot prevent the headaches from happening unless you take them all the time which is explicitly not recommended.

Natural and Home Remedies:

There are a variety of natural and home remedies that can be used to prevent or treat headaches during the menstrual cycle.

The goal would be to prevent them first but if that is not possible to have adequate treatment and pain relief. There are a few very specific herbs that will help and they include:


This indicates that adding in magnesium supplements may be a cure for or a preventive agent in respect to menstrual cycle headaches. It appears that magnesium reduces the reaction of nerves that become agitated during the menstrual cycle. These nerve paths control the elements of blood pressure, sleep rhythms, hormone production, and temperature. All of these add to the increase in headaches.

Activities that Treat Headaches: