I approached menopause with some trepidation due to the fact that my mother and her mother experienced severe migraines prior and during menopause. Lying in bed in a darkened room with a cold washcloth applied to the forehead was their only relief. Fortunately, for whatever reason (maybe 20 plus years of taking birth control pills), I did not experience this particular menopause symptom but I knew plenty of women who had.
Fun fact (or maybe not!): Women are three times more likely to get migraines than men because female hormones and migraines are linked. For some ladies, menopause may bring an end to migraines, but to others the hormonal changes leading up to menopause can make matters worse.
Those experiencing migraines complain of nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity and flashing lights or auras. Many things can trigger a migraine such as stress, lack of sleep, foods or drinks, strong scents, bright lights and a drop in estrogen level. (It’s interesting to note that many women experience migraines right before their periods due to low estrogen levels and, during pregnancy when estrogen levels increase, the migraines disappear.)
As women approach menopause, hormone levels may become erratic and periods more irregular. So, if migraines are tied to a menstrual cycle, they can also become unpredictable. Some women experience migraines for the first time in the years just prior to menopause. Those who have had their uterus and ovaries removed often encounter more problems with migraines.
Talk with your doctor about medications that may help you manage migraines. In addition, there are devices that stimulate parts of the brain and/or nerves to relieve pain.
And eating chocolate can be beneficial once you feel a migraine developing. Though the jury is out on this (some people find that chocolate helps while others complain that chocolate is a trigger), I worked with two people who swore by chocolate chip cookies as a way to reduce the discomfort of their migraines. The kitchen area on our floor was always stocked with fresh baked cookies, which was much appreciated by the rest of the staff!