Menstruation-Related Headaches

What Causes Headaches During Period?

Headaches during period can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'very serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose headaches during period, we could:
  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "headaches during period" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Stress
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • Low Female Testosterone
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Migraine/Tension Headaches
  • Magnesium Need

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
afternoon coffee/sugar craving
inability to work under pressure
red palms/fingertips
darker/redder skin color
numb/burning/tingling extremities
male characteristics
frequent unexplained fevers
prednisone use
history of adolescent acne
history of hypoglycemia
allergies to certain foods
high platelet count
... and more than 160 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of headaches during period:
Cause Probability Status
Hypoglycemia 90% Confirm
Stress 24% Unlikely
Magnesium Need 18% Unlikely
Adrenal Fatigue 4% Ruled out
Low Female Testosterone 4% Ruled out
Migraine/Tension Headaches 1% Ruled out
Sarcoidosis 0% Ruled out
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate chronic headaches, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you regularly have headaches that occur in association with your menstrual cycle?
Possible responses:
→ Not Applicable / don't know
→ No
→ Only before menstruation begins
→ Only during menstruation
→ Both before and during menstruation
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate no menstruation-related headaches, premenstrual headaches or menstrual headaches, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Migraine/Tension Headaches

Up to 25% of women have migraine during their reproductive years, with an average prevalence of 16% (11% without aura and 5% with aura).  In 60-70% of cases in women, the headaches are related to the menstrual cycle.  Attacks that occur exclusively with menses, called "true menstrual migraine", affect about 14% of sufferers.  Some researchers have suggested that migraines occurring on a regular basis between days -2 and +3 of the menstrual cycle be considered menstrual migraines; premenstrual migraines occurring between days -7 to -3.

Aspartame/Neotame Side-Effects

Double-blind studies have demonstrated that aspartame causes headaches.  [Headache 1988:28(1) pp.10-14, Biological Psychiatry 1993:34(1) pp.13-17, Neurology 1994:44 pp.1787-93.]

Environmental Illness / MCS

Central nervous system dysfunction is common, resulting in headaches, chronic fatigue, poor short term memory, hyperactivity, and increased appetite leading to food cravings and overeating.

Estrogens Low

Women must first be exposed to elevated estrogen levels before low estrogen levels will trigger headache activity.  Constant low levels of estrogen, as in menopause, are less likely to be associated with increased headache pattern.

Liver Detoxification / Support Requirement

A 'sluggish liver' often contributes to headaches.

Low Female Testosterone Level

Migraines are more common among women who have very low testosterone levels.

Low Melatonin Level

Migraines sufferers often are found to have reduced blood levels of melatonin.

Lupus, SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythromatosis)

Vascular or migraine headaches occur in 10% of lupus patients.

Magnesium Requirement

Migraines sufferers often are found to have reduced blood levels of magnesium.