Women who are approaching menopause may experience an increased number of migraine headaches, according to a new observational study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, a publication from the American Headache Society.
The study used data from the 2006 American Migraine, Prevalence and Prevention study survey, which included women who met the modified ICHD-3 beta criteria for migraine and were aged 35 to 65 years. The survey was used because it had included detailed questions about the participants’ menstrual cycles. The stage of menopausal transition was defined based on self-report of cycle length and/or duration of amenorrhea. The primary outcome, headache frequency, was defined with a cut score of ≥10 headache days per month.
Two logistic regression models were used to assess data. The first model included adjustments for menopausal transition and sociodemographics and the second model included sociodemographics, depression, medication overuse, preventative medications, and body mass index.
The mean age of the 3664 women in the sample was 46 years. A lower frequency of headaches was reported in 8.0% (99/1242) of the premenopausal women compared with 12.2% (154/1266) of the perimenopausal women and 12.0% (131/1095) of the postmenopausal women. The adjusted odds of being in the high-frequency group was 1.62 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.23, 2.12) for perimenopausal women and 1.76 (95% CI = 1.23, 2.52) for postmenopausal women compared with the premenopausal group in Model 1. In Model 2, only the perimenopausal women had a high frequency of headaches, with an odds ratio of 1.42 (95% CI = 1.03, 1.94).
The investigators concluded that women in perimenopause were at increased risk of high-frequency headache in comparison to women in premenopause. They believe that this increased risk during the menopausal transition indicates a need for better treatments for migraine during that period in a patient’s life.