Article

Current Treatment Options in Neurology

, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp 489-498

Menstrual migraine

  • Lisa K. MannixAffiliated withHeadache Associates
  • , Anne H. Calhoun

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Opinion statement

The initial treatment of menstrual migraine (MM) should be the same as that of migraine that occurs at any other time during the month and should include lifestyle modifications and the use of appropriate acute therapies aimed at decreasing attack symptoms, duration, and disability. If results of acute therapy are incomplete or unsatisfactory, then preventive strategies may be required. Comorbidities may, however, influence choice of preventive therapy or accelerate initiation of preventive therapy. Comorbid dysmenorrhea, menometrorrhagia, and endometriosis argue for early use of hormonal therapies. Hormonal strategies may be appropriate because the premenstrual decline in estradiol concentration predictably precipitates MM, and targeting and preventing this decline can decrease headache occurrence. Continuous combined hormonal contraceptives can reduce hormone fluctuations and, for some MM sufferers, can deliver more than contraceptive benefits. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are appropriate for treatment of co-occurring dysmenorrhea or when hormonal strategies are contraindicated; their efficacy may be caused partly by the role of prostaglandins in MM and dysmenorrhea. As with the use of hormonal therapy, use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs allows for treatment of breakthrough headache with triptans. Results of clinical trials suggest that daily use of triptans in the menstrual window may bring about as much as 50% reduction in headache frequency, but such use still requires acute treatment of breakthrough headache and adherence to daily triptan limits. Use of this strategy requires that headache occurrence be highly predictable.