Update on menstrual migraine: from clinical aspects to therapeutical strategies
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Migraine occurrence is strongly influenced by the hormonal fluctuations of the female reproductive cycle; at least 60% of women affected by migraine relate the periodicity of their attacks to the menstrual cycle. The so-called menstrual migraine, which occurs immediately before, during or at the end of the menstrual flow, has been a largely undefined condition, including some clinical subtypes which are not well defined. In the last edition of the International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD-II), menstrual migraine gained new attention in the Appendix, where three clinical patterns were pointed out: pure menstrual migraine without aura; menstrually related migraine without aura and non-menstrual migraine without aura. Menstrual migraine attacks show severe intensity, long duration (lasting even more than 72 h), marked unresponsiveness to pharmacological treatments, and present higher recurrence rate and work-related disability than non-menstrual attacks. The pharmacological treatment of menstrual migraine can require specific cyclic prophylactic approaches (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, coxibs, magnesium, long half-life triptans or oestrogen supplements in various formulations), but usually the low frequency of attacks suggests a first approach with specific symptomatic drugs. Preference should be given to triptans, due to their specificity in controlling migraine pain and its accompanying symptomatology; among them, in particular for sumatriptan, many specific studies proved a real effectiveness in the management of acute menstrual migraine attack.