Women may experience headaches because of the ebb and flow of hormones in their bodies. Specifically, estrogen and progesterone (or the relative lack thereof) are to blame. These headaches are also sometimes called menstrual migraines (but not within earshot of anyone who's experiencing them). This may account for why more females report migraine headaches than males, since hormone headaches and migraines share many of the same symptoms.
The days leading up to menstruation are when women are most likely to experience hormone headaches. The amount of estrogen in a woman's body plummets shortly before menstruation begins, and sometimes this chemical shake-up can trigger a killer headache. Using birth control pills may also trigger them.
Applying a cold compress to your neck and head can help, as does massaging your neck and shoulders. Relief from hormone headaches can also be found in the (doctor-consulted) use of diuretics, Advil, Motrin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), as well as prescription drugs.
Another somewhat unconventional (and temporary) treatment for hormone headaches is pregnancy. Most women report their hormone headaches go away sometime around the second trimester, but that's not always the case.
Menopausal women who battle hormone headaches can try estrogen patches that deliver a steady, daily release of estrogen and progesterone.
Next, we'll learn how good medicine can sometimes lead to worse headaches.