Are drops in estrogen levels more rapid in women with migraine?

June 1, 2016, American Academy of Neurology
Credit: Sasha Wolff/Wikipedia

Researchers have long known that sex hormones such as estrogen play a role in migraine. But there's been little research on how that works. Do women with migraine have higher estrogen levels in general? Higher levels at the peak of the monthly cycle?

Research published in the June 1, 2016, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, shows that, for with a history of migraine, estrogen levels may drop more rapidly in the days just before menstruation than they do for women who do not have migraine history. For other hormone patterns, there were no differences between women with migraine and women who did not have migraine.

The study also showed that the women with a migraine history had a faster rate of estrogen decline regardless of whether they had a migraine during that cycle.

"These results suggest that a 'two-hit' process may link estrogen withdrawal to menstrual migraine. More rapid estrogen decline may make women vulnerable to common triggers for such as stress, lack of sleep, foods and wine," said study author Jelena Pavlovi?, MD, PhD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, NY, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

For the study, researchers reviewed migraine history, daily headache diaries and hormone data for 114 women with a history of migraine and 223 women without a history of migraine. The women were an average 47 years old. The investigators measured hormone levels from daily urine samples for one monthly cycle; the participants' peak hormone levels, average daily levels and day-to-day rates of decline were calculated over the five days following each hormone peak in their cycles.

In the two days after the peak estrogen level in the luteal phase of the cycle, which is the time after ovulation and before menstruation, the in the women with migraine dropped by 40 percent compared to 30 percent for women without migraine. The rate dropped 34 picrograms per milligram of creatinine (pg/mgCr) in women with migraine, compared to 23 pg/mgCr in women without migraine.

"Future studies should focus on the relationship between headaches and daily hormone changes and explore the possible underpinnings of these results," said Pavlovi?.

While the study's size and amount of data are strengths, limitations include proportionately more Chinese and Japanese women in the group of women without migraine and more white and black women in the group. The level of may differ according to racial and ethnic differences.

Explore further: Pregnancy often leads to changes in migraines

Related Stories

Pregnancy often leads to changes in migraines

June 5, 2015
(HealthDay)—Women who suffer from migraines may notice changes in their headache patterns when they're pregnant, experts say. For example, many women will have fewer migraines during pregnancy.

Women with migraines have higher risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality

May 31, 2016
Women diagnosed with migraines have a slightly increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, and are somewhat more likely to die from these conditions than women who do not have ...

Migraine linked to increased risk of depression in women

February 22, 2012
New research suggests women who have migraine or have had them in the past are at an increased risk for developing depression compared to women who have never had migraine. The study was released today and will be presented ...

Prevalence of migraine up in patients with cardiac syndrome X

April 26, 2016
(HealthDay)—The prevalence of migraine headache is elevated in patients with cardiac syndrome X (CSX) compared to patients with coronary artery disease or healthy controls, according to a research letter published in the ...

A new marker for migraine?

September 9, 2015
Researchers may have discovered a new marker found in the blood for episodic migraine, according to a study published in the September 9, 2015, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. ...

No evidence of an association between silent brain infarcts and having migraine with aura

May 3, 2016
A large cross-sectional study focused on women with migraines with aura and compared their brain MRI images with those of women not suffering from migraine. No differences between these two groups of women were found with ...

Recommended for you

How returning to a prior context briefly heightens memory recall

December 11, 2018
Whether it's the pleasant experience of returning to one's childhood home over the holidays or the unease of revisiting a site that proved unpleasant, we often find that when we return to a context where an episode first ...

The importins of anxiety

December 11, 2018
According to some estimates, up to one in three people around the world may experience severe anxiety in their lifetime. In a study described today in Cell Reports, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science have revealed ...

Neurons in the brain work as a team to guide movement of arms, hands

December 11, 2018
The apparent simplicity of picking up a cup of coffee or turning a doorknob belies the complex sequence of calculations and processes that the brain must undergo to identify the location of an item in space, move the arm ...

The richer the reward, the faster you'll likely move to reach it, study shows

December 11, 2018
If you are wondering how long you personally are willing to stand in line to buy that hot new holiday gift, scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine say the answer may be found in the biological rules governing how animals typically ...

Study: Age, race differences determine risk of stroke in women and men

December 11, 2018
A new study found that, between the ages of 45 and 74 years, white women were less likely to have a stroke than white men, but at age 75 and older, there was no difference in stroke risk between white women and men. In contrast, ...

Using neurofeedback to prevent PTSD in soldiers

December 11, 2018
A team of researchers from Israel, the U.S. and the U.K. has found that using neurofeedback could prevent soldiers from experiencing PTSD after engaging in emotionally difficult situations. In their paper published in the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.