Headaches can be a big problem for many women who are approaching the menopause transition. Because the occurrence of some headaches is linked to the activity of female hormones, women suffer from five times more headaches than men. For this reason, many women not only experience an increase of headaches during menopause, but also during puberty, their monthly menstrual cycles, and pregnancy - other times when hormone levels are in a state of flux. Though headaches may be unpleasant, it is important to remember that menopause is not an illness, but a natural and normal change in a woman's body.
Since many headaches occur as a side effect of the changes in hormone levels - namely estrogen and progesterone - it is possible to treat headaches by rebalancing hormones. While medications may be the traditional method of treating menopausal headaches, they have been discovered to carry the risk of adverse side effects, which has prompted doctors to reconsider how this treatment option is prescribed. Instead, many women are turning to natural means, namely a combination of lifestyle changes and alternative medicine.
Three Approaches to Treating Headaches
Three approaches are relevant when treating headaches. These are classified as: (1) Lifestyle Changes, (2) Alternative Medicine, and (3) Medications.Women are advised to start with lifestyle changes, since that approach carries the least amount of risk. In general, medications should only be used in extreme cases when headaches become incapacitating and no other method has been effective.
Women are advised to start with lifestyle changes, since that approach carries the least amount of risk. In general, medications should only be used in extreme cases when headaches become incapacitating and no other method has been effective.
1. Lifestyle Changes
The first stage of treatment involves the lowest level of risk, but it demands the most self-discipline of any approach. For many women, simple lifestyle adjustments help alleviate headaches and lead to an overall greater wellness.
Management Tips for Headaches:
- Scalp massage
- De-stressing regularly
- Hot or cold compresses
- Cool, dark surroundings
Studies have shown that diets rich in foods that supplement estrogen levels - such as soy, apples, alfalfa, cherries, potatoes, rice, wheat, and yams - may help in reducing menopause symptoms like headaches. In addition, enriching the diet with vitamin B12 and decreasing salt and caffeine intake can help to alleviate recurring headaches.
Implementing a regular exercise routine is also essential. Physical activity helps to improve blood flow, letting more oxygen and nutrients reach the scalp, resulting in fewer headaches. Exercise also raises overall health and provides many other benefits, such as a lower resting heart rate.
Finally, it is important to moderate or eliminate bad habits, if applicable. Smoking tobacco constricts blood vessels, often resulting in headaches. Alcohol consumption is another common trigger of headaches. It is also essential to get good quality sleep every night.
Making lifestyle adjustments may be a healthy way to combat frequent headaches, but most elements do not address hormonal imbalance, the root cause of menopausal headaches. However, alternative medicines are able to relieve headaches naturally by aiding hormonal balance.
2. Alternative Medicine
This approach encompasses many distinct treatment possibilities. Herbal supplements are the most popular method, given their easy use and smaller time and monetary commitment compared to other treatments. In addition, herbal supplements are the only form of alternative medicine capable of balancing hormone levels.
- Therapeutic massage
In the case of herbal supplements, two types can be used particularly to address hormonal imbalance: phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating supplements.
These supplements, such as dong quai, function by introducing phytoestrogens, or estrogen compounds that come from plants, into the body. This can raise estrogen levels for a time. However, because using external hormones can eventually lessen the body's ability to produce natural hormones, their long-term use is not advised.
Rather than using outside hormones, these supplements, such as Macafem, work by providing the hormonal glands with necessary nutrients for them to carry out proper hormone production. This balances not only estrogen, but also progesterone. These natural supplements can also be taken for an extended time if necessary.
From "Nature and Health Magazine," Dr. Gloria Chacon says:
"Macafem nutrients help restore natural hormones in women. Unlike hormone drugs, which are basically resumed in taking synthetic hormones, Macafem acts totally different in your body. It nourishes and stimulates your own natural hormone production by inducing the optimal functioning of the endocrine glands." Click on the following link to find out more about Macafem.
A combination of approaches - especially lifestyle adjustments plus herbal supplements - is often an effective way to treat headaches. However, in rare cases that headaches interfere with daily life and do not respond to the first approaches to treatment, medications may be necessary. The risks associated with this option should first be evaluated before beginning treatment.
Many women reach for aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen when a headache strikes. However, for hormonally caused headaches, this treatment option will be ineffective and the will for a stronger pharmaceutical may set in. Interventions at the third level involve the highest risk and often the highest costs. The most common drug therapy for treating hormonally caused headaches in the United States is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This may be a quick and strong way to combat hormonal imbalance; but, unfortunately, it entails serious side effects and increases the risk of different types of cancer among women, as the following study has proven.
In 1991, the National Institutes of Health began the largest clinical ever carried out in the U.S., the Women's Health Initiative. The goal of this research was to pinpoint the risks and benefits of HRT, but in 2002, the study was canceled when the link between synthetic hormones and the heightened risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and heart disease was established.
Sometimes, prescription painkillers or anti-seizure medications are used, but only in severe cases. Therefore, it is crucial to always talk to a healthcare professional before turning to this approach to headache treatment.
These three levels of treatment are not mutually exclusive; in other words, they can be used in tandem as necessary to address the symptoms. A growing number of women are finding that a combination of lifestyle changes and alternative medicine is the best way to alleviate menopausal headaches.
A Safe Way of Treating Headaches
Making lifestyle changes:
- Getting enough quality sleep
- Eating estrogen-boosting foods
- Making environments comfortable
- Excess salt and caffeine
- Alcohol and tobacco
- Loud and stressful situations
And taking hormone-regulating herbal supplements:
- Support a healthy hormonal system
- Natural, safe, and effective
A good option is Macafem - learn more about it.
- Dr. Lichten, Edward.(n.d). "Menopausal migraine: The Role of Hormonal Replacement." The Menopausal Syndrome. Scottsdale, Arizona January 27, 1990. Reid-Rowell, Inc. Pages 21-24
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.(n.d)."Migraines".Retrieved from www.womenshealth.gov.
- MayoClinic.(n.d)."Migraines." Retrieved from www.mayoclinic.com.