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Oral Contraceptives

Migraine headaches are the most common side effect reported by women taking birth control pills, and many women stop taking them because of the headaches. The birth control pill tends to increase the frequency, duration, severity, and complications of migraine by intensifying the fluctuations of female hormones in the body.

It is interesting to note, however, that the longer some women take the Pill, the fewer headaches they have. Some women have less migraine headache pain while taking birth control pills. In other words, the body may be able to adjust to this artificial input of female hormones — at least in terms of headache.

If you are a migraine sufferer, you should know that the Pill is likely to increase the severity and frequency of your headaches. Furthermore, although it is a very small number, women who have migraines and take the Pill increase the possibility of Pill-related stroke, especially if they use tobacco.

Menopause

Menopause — the complete ending of ovulation and menstruation — does not happen in one day. Your body may undergo changes for months or even years before and after this natural phenomenon, and some women do not notice any changes, except that their periods stop. About half of all women do experience slight physical or emotional changes as they progress through menopause. Another 25 percent may suffer irregular heartbeat, joint pains, flushing in the upper torso, and headaches.

Estrogen Replacement Therapy
More and more women going through menopause are taking female hormones (estrogen and progesterone or estrogen alone) to treat symptoms such as irregular or prolonged periods, osteoporosis, hot flashes, excessive sweating, vaginal dryness, or depression. Some women also take estrogen replacement therapy to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease linked to menopause.

While migraines tend to become less frequent as women get older, they can also spontaneously increase or worsen during menopause. It is the drop in estrogen that triggers the migraine. Migraine sufferers should realize that hormones may immediately worsen their headaches, or prolonged use may worsen them over time.

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