Headaches In Menopause

Headaches are common in menopause, especially if you experienced pre-menstrual headaches.

Types of headache

There are various different types of headache, which may occur during menopause, including:

  • migraines: migraines are severe headaches, which may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as sensitivity to light, nausea and seeing flashing lights
  • tension headaches: these are often linked to stress
  • sinus pain: sinus pain generally occurs when the sinuses become congested, usually when you have a cold or flu; sinusitis is often characterised by pain when you move your head forwards and facial pain

Why am I getting more headaches?

Like most symptoms associated with menopause, the hormonal changes that take place in the body are blamed for headaches; oestrogen causes blood vessels to dilate and reduced levels may cause vessels to constrict slightly and apply greater pressure, which may result in headaches. Headaches can also be triggered by stress and dehydration, both of which are common effects of menopause.

Treating headaches

Taking over the counter pain relief is usually sufficient to shift headaches, although this may not be the case with migraines; if you do have a migraine, it's usually best to avoid caffeine, rest in the dark, stay hydrated and take it easy. There are migraine treatments available from pharmacies, but if headaches or migraines persist, it's advisable to see your GP.

Heavy Periods In Menopause

Changes to your periods are among the most common and noticeable signs of perimenopause. Many women experience longer or shorter, heavier or lighter and less frequent periods as they go through perimenopause and reach menopause. Every woman is different, but the majority go through changes to their regular periods; sometimes, periods may not appear for months on end while in other cases they may come around much more frequently than usual; some women may experience lighter bleeding, while others have very heavy periods compared to normal.

Heavy periods are caused by fluctuating oestrogen and progesterone levels; normally, the levels balance each other out and this results in normal periods. When you're approaching menopause and the levels are unstable and changing, periods become irregular.

Heavy periods can make life difficult in terms of practical concerns about wearing certain types of clothing and being worried about going out in public, heavy periods can also result in excessive blood loss, which may cause anaemia and a subsequent lack of energy. Other factors that may increase the risk of heavy bleeding include stress and taking some types of medication.

When should I see a doctor?

Heavy and irregular periods are common during menopause, but you should seek medical advice if bleeding is very heavy or prolonged; if you bleed for longer than 10 days, it is a good idea to see your GP. When you see your GP, they will ask you some questions about your symptoms and they may carry out tests to check that there is no other underlying cause.

What can be done about heavy periods?

Steering clear of stress, taking care of yourself and getting plenty of rest can all help. Heavy periods are normal during menopause and they tend to tail off without any need for treatment; however, if they are getting you down or affecting your day to day life, it's a good idea to see your GP and discuss some treatment options. Your diet is also really important and you should try to ensure you get plenty of iron; iron can be found in leafy green vegetables and meat.

Possible treatment options for heavy periods include some types of contraceptive pill and HRT (hormone replacement therapy).

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