We know that abnormal brain activity causes migraines, but beyond that, the causes of these headaches are a mystery. Certain foods can trigger a migraine attack, as can certain odors, missed meals, stress, exercise -- the list goes on.
The factor these triggers have in common is change. A change in the usual, like less caffeine or too much noise, sets off a neurological alarm that results in a debilitating headache [source: Goweke].
And what's more changeable than a woman's hormones during perimenopause?
It has long been believed that hormones have a great deal to do with migraines, since the majority of their victims are women. The withdrawal of estrogen during a certain phase of a woman's menstrual cycle often precipitates a migraine in women who are prone to them. This same estrogen withdrawal may be what prompts migraines during perimenopause in women who have never had them. Others find that the frequency of their migraines has diminished. No two women are alike, so just cross your fingers that you're a proud member of the migraine-free club.
Looking for more articles on women's health? We've got links below to more reading material you might like.
- Booth, Rebecca. "Menopause is the Ultimate Sleep Challenge." Huffington Post. Feb. 2, 2010. (March 26, 2012) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-booth/menopause-sleep-menopause_b_443902.html
- BreastCancer.org. "All About Hot Flashes." Aug. 17, 2011. (March 26, 2012) http://www.breastcancer.org/tips/menopausal/facing/hot_flashes.jsp
- Camillo, Patricia A. "What are the risks of central adiposity in women?" Medscape. Feb. 3, 2006. (March 28, 2012) http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/520724
- Carroll, Dana G. "Nonhormonal Therapies for Hot Flashes in Menopause." American Family Physician. February 2006. (March 27, 2012) http://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0201/p457.html
- Fries, Wendy C. "Menopause and Dry Skin: The Hormone Connection." WebMD. Last reviewed Aug. 23, 2010. (March 27, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/features/menopause-dry-skin-hormone-connection
- Geweke, Lynne O. "Menopause and Migraine." Menopause Management. September/October 2007. (March 27, 2012) http://www.menopausemgmt.com/issues/16-05/MM0910_feature.pdf
- Harvard Women's Health Watch. "Perimenopause: Rocky road to menopause." August 2005. (March 26, 2012) http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Perimenopause_Rocky_road_to_menopause.htm
- Khine, Khursheed et al. "The Perimenopause and Mood Disorders." Primary Psychiatry. December 2003. (March 27, 2012) http://www.afwh.org/pdf/primarypsy.Khine_2003.pdf
- Mayo Clinic. "Breast pain: an interview with a Mayo Clinic specialist." July 6, 2004. (March 28, 2012) http://health.msn.com/health-topics/menopause/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100096408
- Mayo Clinic. "Menopause weight gain: Stop the middle age spread." Sept. 11, 2010 (March 27, 2012) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/menopause-weight-gain/HQ01076
- Sternfeld, Barbara et al. "Physical Activity and Changes in Weight and Waist Circumference in Midlife Women: Findings from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation." American Journal of Epidemiology. May 26, 2004. (March 28, 2012) http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/160/9/912.full.pdf
- Stoll, BA. "Perimenopausal weight gain and progression of breast cancer precursors." Cancer Detection and Prevention. 1999. (March 28, 2012) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9892988
This menopause journal tracks the stories of one woman's journey into menopause. Get information and tips with HowStuffWorks's menopause journal.