A woman clutches her head while hammers pound towards it in the background.

How I Deal With My Hormonal Migraines

Menstrual migraines or what I fondly call “my hideous migraines” affect millions of endometriosis patients worldwide. In my case, a migraine will render me useless for anything from a day to three. I am unable to do my job as a writer, I can’t look at my phone, or face talking with anyone. The light bothers me so much, that I have to shut myself off, like a recluse, and it ends up affecting my mental health.

What does a migraine consist of?

Hormonal migraines can vary in intensity, going from mild to severe. To some people, they can feel like a regular headache and dissipate after a short while. In the worst cases, they can last days.

Some sufferers experience what is known as an “aura”, which may include flashes of light. These can precede a migraine, generally warning you about what’s coming. Others complain from a sharp or pulsating pain. This is something I suffer from, from time to time. My migraines also come with light-sensitivity. Fellow patients I've talked to have explained how theirs result in a heightened sensitivity to sound, while others mention nausea and vomiting.

Is there a cause?

There are several theories surrounding migraines. Most experts concur that a fluctuation of hormones, or an imbalance of these, seems to be the culprit behind hormonal migraines. Some migraines happen the days right before a period and are linked to a drop in estrogen. These are the so-called "menstrual migraines". Other theories blame an excess of estrogen, which would explain a lot for endometriosis patients who suffer from migraines regularly.

What nobody can refute is that hormonal migraines are very debilitating and also not exclusive to those of us living with a chronic illness. They can happen to anyone who gets a period, and can occur during perimenopause and menopause.

How I deal with migraines

While I can't get rid of them quickly when they happen, there are things that I can do to prevent them. Drinking lots of water makes a huge difference. If I haven’t drank enough water in the day, you can be sure I will get a mild migraine by bedtime. Not overdoing with my phone or my laptop screen is another way to limit these painful episodes.

Diet and exercise definitively pay a role on how often I get these migraines. Because stress and anxiety tend to give me migraine, I look to do activities that help me release stress or simply breathe better. Going for runs or long walks helps me get tons of fresh air, and home sessions of yoga contribute to maintaining my anxiety levels low. Alcohol always result in a headache, even after just one glass of wine. I now only drink on special occasions, which has reduced the frequency and the intensity of my migraines.

Unfortunately, when I suffer from a fully-blown migraine, I can’t do much to stop it, only bear it. I generally rest, keep curtains closed and become a true creature of the dark. It can be terribly frustrating since all I can do is wait for it to dissipate, and I’m not great at being patient.Fortunately, I have found that a couple of drops of my CBD oil of choice generally reduces the intensity of the migraine.

It's essential to remember that migraines are always temporary

Migraines can be extremely painful, and can wreak havoc with your life. However, it is important to bear in mind their temporary nature, they always pass. At some point, you get to be you again, migraine-free.

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