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Scent Sensitivity?

I suffer from Migraines and scents/smells are my main migraine trigger – which sucks as they are impossible to control/avoid. However, I recently had a hysterectomy (in November) and I feel like my sensitivity to smell/scents has decreased. I mean, I still have had a few whoppers of a migraine – but only 2 and both from wood stove smells.

I work in an office environment w/clients – and when they come in with their perfumes/colognes, etc, usually I’m doomed form the first whiff. But since surgery, I have tolerated the scents with only minor to no headaches. I don’t want to jinx myself as it could just be the season or something – but I wanted to see if anyone else has heard about this, felt it, noticed it, etc. My Dr. says it’s unlikely because I still have my ovaries and that’s what drives the hormones, which makes sense. But I can cross my fingers and pray that this was a bonus to the surgery. But I have had considerably less headaches and def less migraines.

We have tracked my migraines for years and ruled out any correlation between my cycle and headaches, so I know that it was never a cause. But never correlated scent sensitivity with my female parts. Which when you think about it, kind of makes sense. I remember when I was pregnant, boy the smells/scents were ridiculous, of course, that was prior to the migraine nightmare I now live.

Anyone have any thoughts?

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  1. Hi there @Lacymi, What a great question! First I'd like to say that I hope your recovery went well from the hysterectomy & that you are feeling well. I do not have any personal experience with this, but do have some information to share with you from our sister site Migraine.com, that you might find helpful to explore. Some lively discussion has surrounded this topic of a hysterectomy and migraine and/or headaches. Are you by chance active on facebook? If so, we asked the community how a hysterectomy may have impacted their migraine. You can check that out here. Additionally, here is an article that you might find helpful to review here. Be sure to read the comments from members as well at the end of the article. Thanks for reaching out & sure hope the possible MAJOR bonus continues! Do keep us posted if you can! I am very interested to hear how things progress.

    1. Hi Lacymj. I'm glad you're getting some relief from your migraines! can't speak to your experience exactly; I still have my uterus. But I do get scent sensitivity and migraines. My husband calls it "super smelling." I've been told (by a migraine researcher) that what makes me more sensitive to scents is also what makes me more sensitive to migraines. And it all relates to a very sensitive central nervous system. I would be interested to know if it's possible that your hysterectomy has calmed down some of your central nervous system sensitivity. Have you experienced symptom relief from it? I tend to get heightened sense of smell when I'm really stressed OR if my hormones are shifting. When I use stress-reducing techniques, the smell sensitivity and the migraines tend to come less often. Do you have ways to treat your migraines when you get them? I couldn't live without my triptans! - Keri (endometriosis.net team member)

      1. Hi Keri - Super smelling! Yes, I've been told that my whole life. My family refers to me as the "mikey" of smells. (I don't know if you're old enough to get that reference but it's Mikey from the old Life Commercials - he'll eat anything. I smell everything - not on purpose though. LOL) Anyway - I know the feeling.
        Prior to my surgery, any smell would set off a migraine attack. It was like once a scent hit me, it was burned into the back of my nasal passage and nothing would get it out. At times, it's like I could actually taste it on my lips and tongue. Hard to explain, but they would almost tingle. Sometimes my headache pill (Rizotripton) would stop it, or at the very least keep it to a manageable headache - meaning I could still function. Most of the time though, any perfume, cologne, lotion, bonfires, etc would put me down for 3 days - dark room, ice pack, silence. I quit wearing my own perfume years ago. I tried everything - I keep a spray bottle of a water/cinnamon mix on my desk (cinnamon and black cherry are the only scents I can handle) which I will spray on a klenix and hold to my nose to try and stop some of those other scents. Sometimes it works. Mostly, I've come to the point where I'm avoiding places that will trigger a migraine as much as possible - concerts, stores, places where people seem to think they need to bathe in their scents. I work in an office environment, however - so I can't control my clients when they come in and have bathed in their scents. Or my co-workers. But I use the spray, I keep a small fan on my desk to try and blow the air away from my face. But honestly, in ways of controlling it - there isn't much I can do. But since my surgery, I do feel like I have less sensitivity. I can handle the scents, for example, when a client comes into the lobby - if they aren't in my office, I can tolerate it. I usually get a slight headache, but for us that have migraines - a head ache is nothing and I'll take that all day. Prior to, it was like I could smell them walk through the vestibule before even getting into the lobby area or near my office. I let my son have a bonfire a couple weeks ago, kind of testing my theory - and I didn't get a headache. Bonfires are a huge trigger and have sent me to the ER after causing a 5 day migraine. So that was not only a risk, but a huge feat for me! My dr doesn't think there is correlation because I still have my ovaries and she said that's what drives the hormones. But I disagree. For me, the proof is def in the decrease in migraines. And the fact that I'm not in immediate pain every time a scent hits me like I was before. And leading up to my surgery, every single scent - it didn't matter if someone walked past my office, or even co-workers in their own office not near mine, I could smell it and get a migraine. I was missing work almost weekly. It got really bad. *knock on wood*. I'm hoping my theory is correct. I did have a knock me down migraine last week for 3 days, which was smell induced. But again, that's only 3 severe migraines since my surgery in November. When I was having easily 5-6 a month before surgery. I honestly think as my issues with my uterus, fibroids, Adenomyosis, cysts etc were getting worse, so was my sensitivity to smell. It was just increasing. I probably could have been used in police work sniffing things out. So, I may have my ovaries but I don't think that's where my issue was. Again, the proof is in the decrease in migraines. *knock on wood*

        I don't know if that answered any questions, I sort of rambled. LOL.

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