Headaches commonly occur during menopause - affecting up to 60% of women in some surveys - and none more severe than migraines. Migraines affect more than a quarter of peri-menopausal aged women, some of whom will have suffered from migraines before menopause, while others will get these headaches for the first time.
Studies have shown quickly fluctuating oestrogen levels, such as in peri-menopause or around your period, are associated with migraines and headaches. On the other hand higher oestrogen levels, such as during pregnancy, may reduce migraine frequency.
There are changes that can help your headaches, including avoidance of triggers (e.g. caffeine, chocolate, smoking, cheese or alcohol) and staying active. Many women also find acupuncture good for relieving stress and pain, and there is some evidence to show it may prevent migraines too.
Replacing oestrogen through hormone replacement therapy may also help reduce headaches and migraines. Note that even if you suffer from migraines with aura you can still use some forms of HRT. This should be discussed with your GP.
Something we can also overlook are our eyes and vision. Making sure your glasses or contact lens prescription is up-to-date will reduce the strain from screens that may trigger more headaches.
Headaches and migraines are not necessarily here to stay: research shows the frequency of migraines gradually improves after menopause.