Menopause Transition Linked to Increased Headache Risk

woman headache
woman headache
The results challenge the common myth that headaches improve with menopause.

Perimenopause is associated with a 1.4-fold increased risk of high frequency headache, according to data from the 2006 American Migraine, Prevalence, and Prevention study (AMPP).

“Perimenopause represents a time period of turbulent hormonal change as women transition into menopause,” study author Vincent Martin, MD, of the University Of Cincinnati College Of Medicine, told Neurology Advisor. “The hormonal changes during this time period represent one of the most significant triggers for migraine in many middle aged women.”

The menopause transition is often characterized by hot flashes, irregular menstruation, night sweats, irritability, decreased libido, and headache. These symptoms may be more prevalent in women with a history of depression or migraine.

For the study published in Headache, Dr Martin and colleagues used data from the cross-sectional observational 2006 AMPP study. Women aged 35 to 65 meeting criteria for migraine were included and data was obtained on self-reported details of their menstrual cycle. Menopause transition was defined based on the STRAW1 criteria. After exclusion, the study sample included 3664 participants with episodic migraine. Participants were further divided into premenopause (N=1263), perimenopause (N=1283), and menopause (N=1118) groups.

When compared to participants in the premenopausal group, those in the menopause (OR 1.89, 95% CI: 1.37-2.6) and perimenopause (OR 1.67, 95% CI: 1.21-2.3) groups were more likely to use migraine preventive medications. Likewise, there was an increased likelihood of medication overuse in the menopause (OR 2.28, 95% CI: 1.85-2.83) and perimenopause (OR 1.63, 95% CI: 1.32-2.02) groups.