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Understanding Menstrual Migraines: Causes, Symptoms, and Management

Dr. Vishnu Priya, Consultant in Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Aster Women and Children Hospital, Whitefield, Bangalore, sheds light on the often-overlooked phenomenon of menstrual migraines, which can significantly impact women's quality of life during menstruation.

Menstrual migraines are severe headaches that occur in relation to a woman's menstrual cycle, typically before, during, or after menstruation. These headaches are often more intense and prolonged than regular migraines and are associated with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Hormonal fluctuations, particularly a decrease in estrogen levels just before menstruation, are believed to be the primary trigger for menstrual migraines. This hormonal shift affects neurotransmitters and blood vessels in the brain, leading to migraine onset. Additionally, factors such as stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, and certain foods like caffeine and alcohol can contribute to the development of menstrual migraines.

Diagnosis of menstrual migraines typically involves a thorough medical history, including a description of headache symptoms and their relation to the menstrual cycle. Imaging tests such as MRI or CT scans may be conducted to rule out other underlying conditions.

Managing menstrual migraines involves lifestyle adjustments, such as maintaining a regular sleep pattern, staying hydrated, and avoiding triggering factors like stress and certain foods. Relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation, as well as complementary therapies such as biofeedback or acupuncture, may also provide relief.

Keeping a headache diary to track symptoms and triggers is essential for identifying patterns and preventing migraines. For severe or frequent migraine episodes, especially those accompanied by neurological symptoms, seeking medical attention is crucial to rule out underlying conditions and receive appropriate treatment.

Dr. Vishnu Priya emphasizes the importance of recognizing and addressing menstrual migraines to improve the overall well-being and quality of life for women experiencing these debilitating headaches. By understanding the causes and symptoms of menstrual migraines and implementing effective management strategies, individuals can find relief and regain control over their health.

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