Headache and female hormones: what you need to know : Current Opinion in Neurology

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Headache and female hormones: what you need to know

Silberstein, Stephen D.

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Current Opinion in Neurology 14(3):p 323-333, June 2001.


The normal female lifecycle is associated with hormonal milestones, including menarche, pregnancy, contraceptive use, menopause, and the use of replacement sex hormones. Attacks of migraine without aura, but not with aura, are more likely to occur 2 days before onset and on the first 2 days of menses, but they are not more severe than those that occur outside the perimenstrual period. Oral sumatriptan and naratriptan are effective as short-term perimenstrual prophylaxis. Postdural headache can occur during the postpartum period. The International Headache Society Task Force assessed the efficacy of treatment of women who had migraine with combined oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy, as well as the risk of ischemic stroke associated with their use. There is no contraindication to the use of oral contraceptives in women with migraine in the absence of migraine aura or other risk factors. There is a potentially increased risk of ischemic stroke in women with migraine who are using combined oral contraceptives and have additional risk factors that cannot easily be controlled, including migraine with aura. There is no compelling evidence that postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy either decreases or increases stroke risk.

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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