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Can Periods Cause Headaches?

Can Periods Cause Headaches?

May 23, 2024

On our blog, we’ve covered LOTS of period correlations, from whether your period can affect your mental health to the impact of stress on your period. One question that seems to keep coming up, though, is, “Can periods cause headaches?” 

But first, let’s dive into what a period headache is!

What is a Period Headache?

Some menstruators experience headaches that are specifically linked to their menstrual cycle, known as menstrual migraines or hormone headaches. These often occur anywhere from 2 days leading up to their period to 3 days after it starts. According to the National Headache Foundation, period headaches affect 60% of women who regularly have migraine attacks.

Why Do I Get Headaches During My Period?

There are a number of reasons why you may get period headaches. Here are a couple of ways in which periods may be linked to headaches:

Hormonal Changes

Your hormones fluctuate during your menstrual cycle. Specifically, the fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone can affect blood vessels and trigger headaches in some individuals. Just before your period starts, estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest. It’s this decrease that causes some menstruators to experience headaches.

hormonal changes gif

PMS Symptoms

For some menstruators, headaches may be a part of a broader range of PMS symptoms, which can include mood swings, period cramps, irritability and physical discomfort.

IMPORTANT: Your period is not the only trigger of period headaches. Some menstruators even have headaches during menopause or perimenopause due to the drop in hormone levels. Even pregnancy can cause headaches, as one’s hormones fluctuate over nine months.

What Does a Period Headache Feel Like? 

The symptoms of period headaches are very similar to those of other kinds of migraines, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light, sound or smell
  • Severe throbbing pain on one side of the forehead

Period Headache Relief

  • Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can be a trigger for headaches, so it’s essential to stay well-hydrated, especially during your period.
  • Manage Stress: Stress can impact headaches, so finding some stress management techniques like yoga, meditation or deep breathing may help reduce the frequency and intensity of menstrual migraines.
  • Over-the-Counter Pain Relief: Non-prescription pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be an effective menstrual migraine relief. However, it’s crucial to follow the recommended dosage and consult with a healthcare professional if needed.
  • Prescription Medications: In severe cases or for individuals with chronic menstrual migraines, a healthcare provider may prescribe specific medications to help prevent or reduce the frequency of headaches.

If you’re experiencing headaches or migraines related to your period, consult a healthcare professional. They can help identify the underlying causes and recommend appropriate treatments tailored to your specific situation. 

Stay in the flow — we’ll send you period positivity + timely updates on the menstrual movement.

claire coder,founder + ceo

claire coder,
founder + ceo

Hi! I’m Claire. I founded Aunt Flow after getting my period in public without the supplies needed.

At 18 years old, I dedicated my life to developing a solution to ensure businesses and schools could sustainably provide quality period products, for free, in bathrooms. Our products are made with organic cotton and we are constantly working to reduce our environmental impact! Since 2021, we've donated over 6 MILLION period products to menstruators in need. I call this people helping people. PERIOD.®